“Saint Laurent’s Paris apartment on the Left Bank was originally designed by Bérard’s friend and sometime collaborator—the icon of Art Déco design—Jean-Michel Frank. Frank and Bérard’s interiors were madly dapper and stylish yet at the same time modern classics. The pair were celebrated not only in France but also in America, where they designed one of New York’s greatest Déco interiors: the Nelson Rockefeller apartment on Fifth Avenue. Yves Saint Laurent’s apartment was also originally designed for an American, which may in part account for its international modernist feel that makes no reference to time or place. It was an ideal background for Saint Laurent’s unabashedly eclectic treasure trove of extraordinary objects new and old, gathered from seemingly every culture with a legitimate claim to high style.”
– from Architectural Digest, September/October 1976 and September 1988
Jean-Louis Forain, Max Ernst and Christian Bérard works hang among theatrical sketches and memorabilia on the study walls. “Though I never stop working,” the designer has said, “I’m still happiest here, in the midst of these.” An Assyrian fragment is behind a Jeanne Laurent chair.
The library opens onto a garden. Whimsical bar and sheep chairs by Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne are clustered at right. Over the Le Corbusier console are Léger and Picasso works and a drawing by Modigliani, which was willed to the designer by Jean Cocteau.
The red hues of the music room evoke the designer’s native Algeria. “Color is a reflection of the soul,” he once noted. Lacquered fish are behind a Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann low table and piano displaying Dunand vases. The lamp is by Armand Albert Rateau.
Jacques Grange found the 18th-century mirror in the dining room. A Louis XV chandelier lights the space, which includes Gobelins tapestry panels. On the marble-topped Ruhlmann table is a silver-gilt ewer and basin that once belonged to an archduke of Austria.
“I like the airy presence of the crystal sconces in my bedroom. Nearly everything comes from the 1930s, and yet the atmosphere remains timeless,” Saint Laurent has said. The costume sketches are by Bérard.
A 19th-century black-and-white-marble bust overlooks the garden. “I like my garden to be peopled with statues,” the designer has said. “I like it to be mysterious—like the garden in Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête.” The marble bird chair is by François-Xavier Lalanne.
After Saint Laurent’s death, his and Bergé’s interiors were sold, auctioned at Christie’s in 2009 for an astounding $484 million—the Gray chair alone brought just over $28 million. Despite, or perhaps because of, that dispersal the legend of the apartment will surely continue to grow. As Saint Laurent’s favorite writer, Marcel Proust, once observed, “The only paradise is paradise lost.”
Photography by Pascal Hinous, Marianne Haas ; source architecturaldigest.com