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Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
November 21, 2013 
Maria Pergay 
Photo credit Ed Alcock / M.Y.O.P.


MARIA PERGAY'S modernist stainless steel sculptures won the Parisian designer high-profile fans in the 1960s and '70s. Everyone from Salvador Dalí to Pierre Cardin had a piece of her bold and playful work.

After coming out of retirement almost a decade ago, she is once again in high demand. Next month, Ms. Pergay will be exhibiting at Design Miami with the Demisch Danant gallery. She has also collaborated with Fendi to produce a range of pieces, which will be shown at Design Miami. "My pieces are like jewelry," Ms. Pergay says. "People will only have to look at a piece and they will guess it is Maria."

I am happiest when I am happy with my myself, where I am feeling more at peace with myself. It can be anywhere, except where it is bloody, where there is hurt. I need kind, peaceful people.

My favorite city? In general I love antiques and antiquities. I adore Florence, Paris, Greece, Egypt, where man is close to God. God is the biggest architect.

I love Russian literature. There are big masters coming from there, ones that speak the truth. But it can also be Mickey Mouse, Peanuts, or it can be the Bible.

It is impossible to have a favorite piece of art—you cannot say that. It is like asking which flower is the best. But one of my favorite artists is Benvenuto

Cellini, and I love Michelangelo.

I made my name with silverware, not just stainless steel. In 1957, [silver] looked like brand new. Then I found it was too weak. I like to make big things, so stainless steel was there. One form from another one.

If I wasn't an artist, I think I would write music. I don't read music—I heard a lot but I never know enough. I get completely newborn when I hear my favorite composers. I love classical, the voices are so beautiful. Part of Rossini when you listen to it is so fantastic; also when you hear Mahler, you forget everything. Vivaldi, you are in the sky. I love anything that will make you feel like a human being. The best piece of advice I

received was: be always yourself. Even if you are bad, at least you have the truth.
I start my day passionate, work with pleasure. I am smiling happy when I jump out of my bed.

The best holiday ever was when I went around the world. I had fabulous moments in Afghanistan just before the war in 1976. I saw there only friendship around me. Also, going deep into Russia, the heat in Saudi Arabia. But the word favorite doesn't exist. I just like things.

My phobia is people who are very bad—méchant in French.

My favorite fashion designer? In each period there was a fashion, there was something that was new: it popped out, was fabulous and very pure. In each time there is something blooming. I shop at Galleries Lafayette, Printemps. But I also know all the fashion makers, big people— Karl Lagerfeld ... I love also Gianfranco Ferre, he was magnificent, and the fashions from Dior and YSL. But also new designers must be born and grow up.

Restaurants I love—sometimes it is the next door Chinese, other times a superb bistro. If you come in France I will show you where—an atelier, where people are working, a family place often where the grandma is making the cooking, an old-fashioned recipe, so fresh, so good.

I don't really have a signature dish. When you have four children you cook for them, then, thank God, they have grown up... They now cook for me. I like making cakes at Christmas, it is holy.

I regret not to be able to live again 83 years. But I am not sorry as life is too wonderful, too good. I enjoy myself, which comes from somewhere.

The art I feel most emotional about is my first baby born, my "Flying Carpet" daybed from 1967.

I don't have an icon as such but I admire people who support love.

My favorite scent, which I cannot forget, is the smell of the snow in Russia. When it falls the sky falls onto the ground. There is no little snow, it is big snow, and smells like a perfume.

I cannot say that I miss Russia, but I miss my family, and that nostalgia of the song of the voices, because for me it is the language of my born place.

God gives me a fantastic memory. I have very good memory of forms.
My advice to the young: Listen to your own feelings, even if you feel like you should listen to the others. Do not be blocked, listen to what makes you feel alive. —

By Jemima Sissons 

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