La Païva And Precursor Of The Belle Epoque Style

She wanted to build the “most beautiful hotel in Paris” – and it still resides 25 avenue des Champs Elysées. La Païva was both a grande horizontale and patron of the artists that made the grandeur of the Belle Epoque style. 

Esther Lachmann, aka La Païva (1819-1864) was without a doubt the most brilliant of the Parisian cocottes. Arrived alone and with empty pockets, she met the composer Henri Herz. Quickly, the later introduced her to all Paris. Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Théophile Gautier, Emile de Girardin, La Païva makes a sensational impression in all men of good taste but soon prefers a certain Portuguese Albino Francisco de Araújo de Païva. She married and took his name, but barely had the marriage been consummated that she took leave. She divorced in 1852 having caught her eye on a young Prussian lord, Guido Henckel Von Donnersmarck. A cousin of Bismarck and second largest fortune of Prussia, he was for La Païva the missing puzzle piece in accomplishing her dream. During her marriage in Passy, she is already honoured when the public notices her tiara – so remarkable that it rivalled in its splendour to that of the French Imperatrice. A few months later, her husband would begin the great works for her hotel particulier  in 25 avenue des Champs Elysées. Her influence on luxury and the arts was just beginning. 

Hence, as it were in bon tom at the time, La Païva would furnish and decorate her hotel in the pure pomp and splendour of the Belle Epoque. It took ten years of works for the edification of one of the most sumptuous hotels of the capital – and close to 40 million euros were spent. Commissioning artists that were unknown to the public, La Païva contributed to the reputation and to the elaboration of the Belle Epoque style. For example, there bathtub made from the same bloc of Algerian yellow onyx – equipped with three faucets. One for water, the second for lait d’ânesse, the third for champagne. It is also the artist Paul Baudry that was entrusted with the realisation of the high ceilings of this hotel particulier. An execution of such beauty that  he would receive the Prix de Rome in 1850. A few years later, Charles Garnier called on his talent to create the iconic foyer of the Opéra Garnier.

Once again the silverware is signed Christofle. The goldsmith maison at which César Ritz would later acquire the crockery for his palace. At the Musée d’Orsay are visible two console of a wild beauty – created in bronze by the illustrious Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse and Aimé-Jules Dalou. A most accomplished incarnation of the taste of the Belle Epoque, La Païva’s hotel particulier became the place to be. Napoleon III himself would pass a few times to see with his own eyes the exceptional taste of which all of Paris was talking. However, the influence of La Païva was not only a question of taste for design. 

She was also a figure of fashion. Contributed to making khôl fashionable. It is towards her that, Charles Worth – pioneer of Haute Couture- turned to when he wanted to remove crinolines from his dresses – the fascination was so that La Païva would serve as a muse to the couturier for a long time. To jewellers as well! Her vision, all in extravagance, allowed the nascent reputation of today’s legendary houses. Among which Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels, La Païva had indeed very precise taste in jewellery. After having noticed a jewel at the exposition universelle in 1878, she passed an order for a collerette of 407 diamonds with François Boucheron! Her “babies” as she called them were part of one of the most spectacular sales at Sotheby’s. It was in 2003. The sale of two large yellow diamonds named Donnersmarck – they flew for 3 million euros. A sign that the inspiration of the greatest of the cocottes resides even today in the pantheon of objects of desire!

Icons of Art and Icons of Luxury: When the first Remodels the Latter

May iconic pieces of our universal heritage inspire themselves form art and artists in order to renew their character of desirability. A very inspiring affair!

If the connection between art and fashion leaves no doubt, the ability of one to replace the other is yet to be explored. Indeed, many artists and artistic practices have been able to depend on fashion to raise their throne. The more these worlds seem paradoxical at first, the more complete the revolution. If proof would be needed, we can look the most skilful of designers in the subject. In 2001, Marc Jacobs succeeded in bringing a once scorned discipline to the patrimony of one of the most respected maisons.

In 2001, he invites the artist and designer Stephen Sprouse to revamp the emblematic canvas of Louis Vuitton. In a few strokes of colourful graffiti with quasi-exaggerated movements on the monograme, the duo entered both the universe of luxury and another all while placing street art at the pantheon of the coolest practices of the beginning of this century. 

What follows is a string of artistic collaborations all reinventing the habillage of Louis Vuitton’s icons. In 2004, Takashi Murakami is given the same task. This time, Murakami’s pop and motley universe comes to play with the monogram to create a most psychedelic illusion. In 2012 we see the work of Daniel Buren and in 2017 we reach the apotheosis: Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton reveal a series of bags offsetting a jumbled Titian, Da Vinci, Gaugin, Van Gogh and more on the iconic Speedy and Neverfall bags. 

In 2008, Fendi called the most sought out the most covetable artists on the contemporary art scene to reinvent the iconic Baguette bag. The first it-bag created in 1997 passed through the creative hands of André, Sylvie Fleury, Jeff Koons, Tom Sachs or even Damien Hirst – proving it’s ability to to be an image of it’s time. The roman’s maison’s double F logo fashions itself into “Fun Fur” by the digital artist Reilly. This makes sense for an age where art is experienced through Instagram. 

At 30 Avenue Montaigne, the arrival of Kim Jones and Maria Grazia Chiuri strengthened the connection of Dior with art. With Kim Jones we saw the return of the emblem, the lucky charm of Monsieur Dior. The bee, so dear to Christian makes a comeback in the Brit’s first collection. However, in 2018 it draws itself in the figure of Kaws, key artist of our time. Making an appearance on the Saddle imaged from the  brand’s iconic cannage, the bee like the other icons of Dior cosies up to the lightness of our time.

Here once again we can see the benefit of making the two meet – the latter help the first in staying desirable under commercial constraints. Take the example of Lady Dior as the perfect case. A bag that had stayed in the shadows of the ateliers until Bernadette Chirac took over the prototype in order to gift it to Princess Diana for her Paris visit. This is how an icon was created and then produced for the public. Even so, when the Art Lady Dior project came to life, it came under the creative licence of John Giorno, Jack Pierson and Lee Bul. In 2016, Maria Grazia Chuiri launches a feminine and feminist version, the result? A series of Lady Dior bags just as divine and revolutionary as the works of Olga De Amaral, Polly Apfelbaum, Burcak Bingol or even Pae White. 

In the same spirit, Hermes continues its quest for fantastical and original prints inspired by the same creative energy as Robert Duman. The spirit behind the very first Hermes carré. Under the name of “Hermes Editeur” the project sporadically calls upon artists to imagine new prints for the iconic carré. It is thus that Daniel Buren would imagine 365 carrés for Hermes, one for each day of the year. Definitely something to refresh the desirability of an icon born in 1937.

Christmas in the Sun, Luxury and Voluptuousness in the Canaries

From snow to sun, sand and volcanoes – the archipelago reveals itself as the best spot for the end of the year. At the same spot as the milky way. 

The most luxurious destination of this winter? The Canary Islands. Birthplace of the superb Manolo Blahnik, the Canary islands are above all the place where we can feel the softness and luxury of living! The seven-island archipelago is caressed by the winds, coiled in the anticyclone of the Acores. Small corner of absolute pleasure and softness at all times of the year, it is above all else the place to be for an inspiring end of the year. Between luck-bringing dips in the ocean at the stroke of midnight under the world’s most starry sky, passing by the traditional Nochebuana (New Year’s Eve) seafood – the Canaries have more than one delicacy to offer. 

leave your luggage at the Gran Hotel Bahia Del Duque or at the iconic Abama Ritz Carlton for an experience where tradition meets surprise. At the many Christmas Markets, the Mont Teide shows it’s fresh snows in the distance under a balmy 22°C in the middle of December. Even better is to watch the sunrise on Mont Teide in it’s white coat contrasting against the black lava – a breathtaking experience! This is Christmas celebrations at the Canaries. A touch less convoluted than Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” filmed for 17 years on the archipelago… but just as iconic!

Sarah Bernhardt, Actress, Cocotte and Fashion Icon

The Belle Epoque actresses are wrongly confined to the status of courtesans . After all, they are the ones who, through their extravagance, have made it possible for luxury and fashion to take off. Of which Sarah Bernhardt is an absolute icon!

At the age of 15, the Duke of Morny introduced her to the world of theatre. The man behind the founding of Deauville sets his eyes on Sarah Bernhardt – the first great international actress. Her count? More than 120 roles. It is said that she invented the “star” status; that she initiated countless extravagances in clothing, which today have become commonplace in women’s fashion. She was a woman that inspired women of the time but also those of the times that followed.

It must be said that during the Belle Epoque, the actress, at times cocotte, at times large and horizontal, represented everything that was impossible for a woman of high society. So much so that theatre and opera performances often distributed leaflets describing with fervent precision the outfits worn by the star artists. Among them, Sarah Bernhardt was an absolute icon!

Cocteau would say “un monster sacré!” It was for her that the most mundane of academics thought up the term… What can be found in the papers? The exact description of the pioneers of sewing who, for love of art and for the beautiful, also made theatre costumes. Before Chanel and Nijinsky, Dior and Grace Kelly, Deneuve and Yves Saint Laurent… It is Sarah Bernhardt and Charles Worth and Jacques Doucet. Dresses, hats, perfumes, make-up – everything is described in such a way that the bourgeoisie copied and bought pieces of Sarah Bernhardt’s free and bohemian life.

It contributed to the launch of the S line in 1898. Soon, Fortuny’s Delphos dress became an icon. Better yet it became celebrated all over the world for the way she died on stage, in a negligee, a death so splendid that she made this outfit a basic part of domestic life. And this is true for women all over the world!

Having travelled ten times around the world; having travelled to the Amerindian tribes; performing throughout America… Sarah Bernhardt has greatly contributed to the reputation of these couturiers, and jewellers working in Paris. The fue de la Paix and the Place Vendôme owe their fame to her. Boucheron, in particular – with her, and for her, he created breathtaking jewellery… Of which, in 1882, the most iconic piece of Sarah Bernhardt’s outfits: a breastplate like a garland of flowers, set with 317 diamonds.

René Lalique was also a great collaborator. With the taste and audacity of Sarah Bernhardt, he refined a style that soon placed him in the pantheon of Art Deco artists. At the 1905 World Fair, he attracted praise and excitement. Sarah Bernhardt had the eye, and particularly the right eye, to notice the talents that still to this day provoke an unparalleled emotion. Take Alphonse Mucha, for example. It is Sarah Bernhardt who took notice of him and offered him to make the advertisements for his shows. Displayed on the Morris columns, the posters inaugurate the advertising, and the Art Nouveau style!

From rice powder to aperitifs, Sarah Bernhardt embodied the aspiration of the women of her time. And it is Marcel Proust who captured the character perfectly in his masterpiece A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu. She is “La Berma”… The one who launched the fashion for cinema in 1905. She ended her career shooting in one of the first films in history. But that, precisely, is another story!

Via Monte Napoleone: Symbol of Italian Style


The history of Via Monte Napoleone is first and foremost that of Italy itself. Following the path of ancient Roman walls along the bed of the river Seveso, Via Monte Napoleone is one of the primary thoroughfares of Italian fashion. Its name is owed first to Monte Camerale di Santa Teresa, abbreviated to Monte, a bank closed in 1786. At the dawning of the bourgeois revolution, the Milanese aristocrats, despite only accounting for 9% of the population, decided that Milan needed more space. Previously occupying two-thirds of the city, a number of convents and cloisters were thus transformed into boutiques in the 19th century. The great names in jewelry began to flourish on Via Monte Napoleone, notably Buscellati.

The Quadrilatero della Moda would take on the international renown it enjoys today when the Monte bank reopened in 1804 under the name Monte Napoleone, giving the street its current name. Almost all of the buildings on this street were reconstructed in a neoclassical style during the Napoleonic Wars throughout the first half of the 19th century. Via Monte Napoleone would then become the street for antique shops, tailors, and suppliers to royal courts before opening definitively up to fashion and international business in the 50s. The couturier Biki would dress Maria Callas, the Opera Diva, here while Bettina Rossi Arts Rosa would spread lace – celebrities and the media would all rush to new goings on at Monte Napoleone.

Today, all the big names in fashion are present and accounted for. Bulgari, Burberry, Cartier, Celine, Pucci… This street is synonymous with wealth, good taste, and elegance. The primary entry for great stylists into the fashion world, the windows of Via Monte Napoleone are the reflection of the exquisite taste and ancestral craftsmanship that have given Milan its talent and reputation. An emblem of style and beauty, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Dior all welcome clients from around the world who want to admire and acquire a piece of Italian refinement for themselves here.

Tod’s 2018 Collection: When California Meets Italy


Last week during Men’s Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018, Tod’s presented a collection largely inspired by surfing in the Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan. Driven by artistic director Andrea Incontri, the collection deftly combines inspirations from the California surf scene and the quintessential elegance of Italian style. What attracted Incontri is the idea of a spontaneous man, a refined man evolving in the natural landscapes of the West coast. Luxury becomes more intense here as the fabrics get lighter and the pieces become indispensable utilities for travel.

The Tod’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection is the wardrobe for a man ready to travel the world at his own speed, with his own style, without renouncing the elegance that his position affords him. With pieces that are lighter in a brand new way, leather, the manufacturer’s signature, becomes almost a new fabric of its own. This fabric is incarnated in hides that seem aged by the blazing sun of California. The result is imagined in deep colors, a mixture of vibrant shades that embellish the iconic pieces in the Tod’s wardrobe. These new textures and finishings can be found on the legendary 133-rubber pebble Gommino as well.

For Spring/Summer 2018, the shoe is taking on bright colors and a new, more graphic logo. The winds of the beach blow over the Gomminos and move Tod’s initials onto light and monochrome colors that look like color blocking. The Gommino features the famous double T on a number of fabrics; the perfect travel companion for the modern man is this time being released in a tender green, orange, or a blue as electrifying as the skies of California.


Discover Tod’s new collaborations with Mr. Porter and Chiara Ferragni: here and here



Dolce & Gabbana Crowns


Dolce & Gabbana’s fashion resonates in the creative sphere because it doesn’t settle for pragmatic – their pieces are grandiose, sublime, full of heritage, inspired, and sometimes difficult to transpose into daily life. No matter, since Dolce & Gabbana style isn’t made to mingle with the masses. There’s one accessory that often appears on their runways and can also be found on the heads of a number of elegant women: crowns, adorned with flowers, lace, jewelry, crystals, or gold.

For each collection, Dolce & Gabbana takes on a specific theme inspired by their Italian heritage. Feminine, pretty, sweet, and dazzling, the D&G woman is a fantastic and phantasmic source of inspiration – she often fuses the artistic inspirations of an Italian princess with the ultra-femininity of a Disney one. Their crowns enthrone them with undeniable style. These crowns take gold, gems, and an almost baroque composition from the Renaissance. Exquisite and imperial, they are magnificent but too often absent from fashion.

This accessory is nothing short of hypnotizing. For several seasons, Dolce & Gabbana have been giving a more royal, aristocratic, and luxurious dimension to their fashion. This craftsmanship surges forth from the past so as not to be lost in the present; the two partners refer to it as a celebration of femininity. An accessory that was once essential is now coming back today front-and-center through a commitment to stupefyingly masterful creativity.

The 60th Anniversary of the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph


The Speedmaster is turning 60 – six decades of evolution for this style with the same aesthetics and history. It was at the dawning of man’s conquest of space that the first Speedmaster took off into the galaxy in 1959, on the wrist of Walter Schirra. The second version of the Speedmaster would take off on October 3, 1962, when it was chosen by the astronaut for the Mercury program’s Sigma 7 mission. Starting from then, Omega has made space its territory of exploration. Three years later, in 1965, the Speedmaster definitively became the watch that infallibly allowed for Apollo 11’s return to earth – on the wrists of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, it became the first watch to walk on the moon.

By celebrating the last six decades of the Speedmaster, Omega is presenting a vivid homage to the life of the chronograph, from 1957 to 2017, in London. With 60 memorable styles on display for a special soirée on April 26 at the Tate Modern in London, the brand told a unique story of rare editions or homages to technology, design, and the Speedmaster spirit. Hosted by Professor Brian Cox, the Speedmaster’s 60th anniversary soirée was orchestrated with a sensorial experience – inside the museum, an elegant and futuristic decoration plunged invitees into a universe of sound and light. The most impressive however was without a doubt the arrival of Buzz Aldrin in a space suit, 48 years after his stellar exploit.

Raynald Aeschlimann, President of Omega, explained during the event: “The Speedmaster is one of the most, if not the most iconic watches in the world. Not just for Omega, but also for the numerous men and women who’ve worn it and who’ve trusted it. Even after 60 years, its power and charisma are none the lesser. We’re so proud to have an event at this level and to share it with the biggest fans of Speedmaster.” Among the timepiece’s fans that night were Clemence Poesy, Pixie Lott, Arizona Muse, Erin O’Connor, and George Clooney, bringing the Omega galaxy even further up into the stars.



An Eau De Parfum, A Timeless Love: Boy Chanel


Arthur Capel was nicknamed Boy by Coco Chanel – three letters were all it took to seal an entire destiny. The love of Gabrielle’s life, the first to believe in the Mademoiselle’s talent, he would give her the means to reach her ends… She loved to borrow his custom tweed jackets. “Since you’re so attached, Capel told me, I’ll have you made an ‘elegant’ version of what you wear everyday, at an English tailor.” Coco once told. Thanks to the funds he invested in the opening of her very first boutique – which she would reimburse in its entirety out of her initial profits, a sign of her unfailing independence – Chanel would never cease to open up and to revolutionize the silhouette of women of her day. In the arms of the man she loved was born all the fundamental rules of the house on rue Cambon.

Boy was an intellectual of calibre, interested as much in politics as he was in frivolity – he was the one who initiated Coco into the occult, symbology, and Asian cultures. The rest is history. But what is lesser known is the power, the euphoria of their love that is today captured in the architectural flask of the label’s new fragrance, simply called Boy Chanel.

An olfactory homage to an eloquent passion and a perpetual game of masculine and feminine, this fragrance is today being added to the ranks of Chanel’s ‘Les Exclusifs’. For it’s this fleeting passion, this enchanted moment in time, that inspired the brand’s perfumer Olivier Polge – with the help of historical portraits, this nose took interest in Boy’s influence on Gabrielle. Inspired by the virile strength of man, in awe of Coco’s frail silhouette, Olivier Polge forges a masculine mythology here that pushed him towards ferns. Then, just like Gabrielle Chanel, who appropriated the male wardrobe without ever renouncing her femininity, the perfumer plays with a mixing of genders by imagining the lingering traces of a man on a woman’s skin. A sleek and aromatic burst announces the heart note of rose geranium – all sealed in a monolithic and purified glass structure with a double-C monogrammed stopper. This soft yet powerful fragrance is available now.