'Midnight at Paris' Reawakens Vintage Parisian Style

Gil Pender, the major character in Woody Allen’s Midnight at Paris, is a man torn between the past and the present — something a lot of home layout fans can relate to. Many homes today have a mix of everything: Eames with Louis XIV, or Saarinen with Art Deco. Since Gil (played by Owen Wilson) travels back and forth from 1920s Paris into the present, he gets a glimpse of everything, together with inspiration for both modern and vintage design fans.

Take a peek at a few of the memorable insides from this movie and learn how to make this Oscar-worthy look to your home.

Oscar Sunday: 7 p.m. Eastern, 4 p.m. Pacific, Feb. 26, 2012

Sony Pictures Classics

In the scenes that are present-day, Parisian style is filled with history. While on holiday, Gil and his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams), wander around a few of their most iconic architectural pieces in Paris. Whether a building was created from the 21st century or the 19th century, it looks at home there.

Sony Pictures Classics

Movie set: When Gil first melts into 1920s Paris, he finds himself bombarded with a cast of iconic characters. Cole Porter, Salvador Dalí, Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein all quickly become a part of his dual life. After learning that Gil is a writer, Hemingway drags him to Stein’s quirky and cluttered apartment for a literary review.

Anne Seibel, the Oscar-nominated set designer for the movie, went to Stein’s first Paris apartment to find a very clear sense of the author’s style. Virtually everything is an antique — Stein loved things with a background. Dark forests, heavy fabrics, golden brown walls and a huge marble fireplace were part of the group’s period-specific appearance.

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Get the look: Elements of this rich and warm style are typical in many homes now. Try playing with textures and patterns while remaining inside the exact same color palette. Show off natural substances — glossed wood, bold stone and lush leather will wear beautifully with time. Lighting is essential also; Stein’s apartment had lamps every surface. Layer floor lamps, table lamps and ceiling lights for just the correct glow.


Get the look: Portraits and paintings clutter each single wall in these scenes. Each of the paintings in Stein’s impressive collection were reproduced to the movie. Even though most of us do not have access to Picasso originals, vintage portraits can be found by the dozen in flea markets and on Etsy. Try hanging up a couple in a similar style for a museum-like appearance.

Giannetti Home

Get the look: Publications, collectibles and antique paintings filled every corner of Stein’s apartment. Seibel was careful to pay attention to all the facts to keep things authentic — she found a set of conservative cigarette holders after learning that Stein gathered them.

A product’s wear and tear make it exceptional. Seek out well-loved accessories using a story behind them on Craigslist or eBay, and also at flea markets or antique shops. If you have a collection, show it off! All of this history and personality will increase your house’s personality.

Sony Pictures Classics

Movie set: Later on in the film, Gil is hurried to a whirlwind of dazzling 1920s parties, courtesy of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The couple hosts a fantastical circus-themed celebration, complete with a carousel and fairground games. This scene was filmed in the Museé des Arts Forains (Museum of Fairground Arts) in Paris.

Susie Harris

Get the look: When circus memorabilia has that vintage twist, it may easily jump from playful to chic, which makes a fantastic addition to home décor. A shelf filled with antique circus-theme toys or an older carousel horse might be exactly the dose of pleasure that your home needs. The owner of this beautiful carousel horse saw it in a thrift store in New Orleans (read the story here).

Allison Cosmos

Get the look: If you’re searching for something a little more dramatic, a tented circuslike ceiling stays right on the line between whimsical and elegant. Try using striped fabric to make a smaller version above a canopy bed, and stick with gentle colours to keep it feeling modern.

Sony Pictures Classics

Movie set: After a few time-traveling excursions, Gil falls for the alluring Adriana (Marion Cotillard). Torn between his two lives, he finally decides to confess his feelings and down her in an extravagant wedding celebration held in the famed French taxidermy store Deyrolle.

This well-known taxidermy store is almost like a museum, and it was Woody Allen’s thought to deliver its menagerie into the set. A stuffed tiger on a table, along with white rabbits and ducks side tables, signify the extravagant party décor which was so widespread in the ’20s. Chandeliers were also covered in fans of ostrich feathers.


Get the look: In 2012, taxidermy is generally linked to the past and makes a lot of people uncomfortable. However, a few pieces still pop up occasionally, and animal prints, cowhides, feathers and antlers (both artificial and actual) are more widespread than ever. If a stuffed tiger isn’t exactly your idea of celebration décor, try putting up a pair of faux antlers instead.

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Bamileke Feather Headdress (white) | Juju Hat – AUD 595

Get the look: Feathers and light fixtures may not be the safest mix for full-time decor, but using faux or real feathered accents has recently resurfaced in the home design world. Try not to go if you’re searching for something which may be set outside for regular usage. A single accessory or a vase filled with peacock feathers is all you want.

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