Humidors: Elie Bleu
Elie Bleu Where function, precision and beauty collide.
Read Montys review.
Nat King Cole once sang: When I fall in love it will be forever. So it was for me when I first discovered Elie Bleu, creators of wonderful marquetry items for discerning customers all around the world. Sauntering through Londons Burlington arcade one morning about fifteen years ago, I spotted a mustard-coloured box in a shop window, its border simply inlaid with ebony and mother-of-pearl. Entering the boutique I felt hypnotically drawn to this beautiful item, my heart raced, hairs stood up on the back of my neck. In short, it was love at first sight. There was more excitement to come; when the assistant opened the lid she revealed an interior lined in butter-soft black suede, small compartments for cufflinks, collar stiffeners and shirt studs, two soft pillows for watches; it was like meeting a beautiful woman and then finding out she owns a cigar shop!
Elie Bleus work starts long before any item is seen gracing the window of a high-class retailer in one of the worlds great cities.
All solid woods used are first cured in the open air for a minimum of 10 years, so as to guarantee there will be no cracks or warping. The veneers are then hand selected and any imperfections discarded, indeed Elie Bleu are famous for choosing only the most beautifully grained veneers. The designs for which these items have become rightly famous are made by cutting and gluing a multitude of veneers in various geometric shapes to the box, creating differing forms, tones and motifs. To give the characteristic brilliant finish, numerous layers of varnish are added, then sanded and polished; always by hand and up to eight times.
Since my first purchase in the Burlington Arcade I have bought several other Elie Bleu items, including a traditional Flor de Tabacos humidor in scarlet, designed to look like a traditional Cuban cigar box and with a wonderful central motif of a cigar. My collection also includes a fountain pen display box in the darkest striped macassar ebony, lined in grained black leather and an intricately grained burr walnut humidor which resides in pride of place in my drawing room, perfectly complementing both antique and modern pieces of furniture.
For those of us who enjoy seeing things in their natural habitat, a visit to Elie Bleus Parisian boutique is essential. However, seeing so many pieces in such close proximity can leave the head of even the most fervent shopper reeling. The finishes range from the most conservative natural burr to the stunningly colourful ï¿½Flor de Albaï¿½ design which is now Elie Bleuï¿½s most popular humidor. Jewellery boxes reside in sparkling glass cabinets next to match box covers, cufflink trays, table lighters and humidors, forcing the senses into overdrive.
Late in 2004 Elie Bleu sought a licence to reproduce Alberto Kordaï¿½s famous portrait of Che Guevara on a range of limited edition humidors. When I first heard about this in March I immediately ordered one from Havana House in Windsor, one of the retailers hand-picked by Elie Bleu to sell their products. Like all Elie Bleu humidors it is lined with best Spanish cedar and contains a top quality humidification system. Having waited 8 (yes, 8!) months my humidor no. 50/50 has just arrived in Windsor, were Matt Hampton the shop manager has set it up for me (a service they routinely offer their customers). Now I just have to buy the 200 cigars needed to fill it! Any ideas?