Biennale des Antiques
September, in even-numbered years
True to French form, this antique fair is all about quality, not quantity. French and continental furniture, art, and antiques (especially from the 18th and 19th centuries) are incredibly displayed in gilded, intricate period rooms. Former French president Jacques Chirac?s wife has been known to preside over the goings-on, where a number of rich Americans snatch up the best stuff at top prices. The setting within the halls of the Grand Palais (a 1900 art nouveau masterpiece in itself) is within a few metro stops of the so-gay Marais district.
The sheer popularity and quality of this fair has led TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) to justifiably brand itself ?The World?s Leading Art and Antiques Fair.? Exhibitors were even complaining of too many customers, and in 2007 entrance fees were increased to keep out the riffraff. The emphasis is on classical paintings and art, with a growing modern presence, but you?ll find everything from snuffboxes to barometers here. The globe?s top collectors and dealers mingle in tasteful, gallerylike spaces lined up like boulevards through the huge show.
Art and Antique Dealers Show
The most la-di-da fair in the United States, known simply as ?The International,? takes over the Upper East Side?s stunning Seventh Regiment Armory. Its location near the millionaires? Manhattan neighborhoods means lots of socializing and air-kissing in Chanel suits among the meticulous, store-like exhibits. Increased inclusion of 20th- century decorative arts has attracted younger crowds of late. Emphasis is on Americana, and the glittering opening gala is not to be missed by any social climber!
Olympia Art and Antiques Fairs
June and November, annually
Under the graceful arched skylight roof of the Olympia exhibition halls (built in the 1880s and located in gay-popular Earls Court), the emphasis here is on English items from the 19th century and earlier, including paintings, furniture, ceramics, glass, silver, textiles, clocks, books, jewelry, mirrors, miniatures, prints, statuary, and objets d?art. The larger June fair coincides with the ?royal season? in London, and usually a blue blood or two are on hand at the posh dress-up cocktail receptions swirling around the hoity-toity fair.
The Original Miami Beach Antique Show
Who needs to travel the world when this mega-show (which bills itself as the largest and longest-running upscale antiquing event in the U.S.) brings the globe to you with over 1,000 exhibitors? The items run the gamut from 18th-century furniture to Asian art to mid-century modernism to Russian Impressionist paintings to (especially) antique jewelry. The show?s home at the Miami Beach Convention Center in the heart of South Beach makes a swim at the gay beach or a queer cocktail or two between shopping bouts an easy reality.