SPEC CHECK
RESIDENT
Diane von Furstenberg

LOCATION
Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris

DECORATOR
Francois Catroux

THE LOOK
The Parisian home of fashion icon Diane Von Furstenberg exudes simple elegance - accented with her bold prints, of course. The flat, tucked in an old Parisian building, is the designer's private hideaway. The luxurious materials and stunning city views make it the perfect place for the busy designer to relax.

 

 

 

 

Diane von Furstenberg told Vogue in 1976: "Simplicity and sexiness, that's what people want. At a price that's not outrageous." It was two years after the fashion designer introduced her iconic wrap dress, which would become synonymous with her name, and propel her into the realms of international fashion icons.

True to her word, von Furstenberg's design aesthetic transcends fashion and into her Parisian home. As the initial wrap dress is of obvious importance to her, she holds her French abode to the same levels.

"Paris is me - me alone," she explains.

When she returns to her home in New York, Connecticut or the Bahamas, she drops her bags to enjoy moments with her family. But, in Paris, it's quite another story. Quite simply put, her pied-a-terre in Paris is more than just a home - it's her refuge.

Von Furstenberg scouted for a cosy sanctuary in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the world's great haute Bohemian neighbourhoods. In a beautiful 18th century building, two doors down from her old address, her humble abode is a stark contrast to the glitzy apartments she could have easily acquired in one of Paris' chic bourgeois neighbourhoods.

Such a location is fitting. Saint-Germain-des-Prés was once playground to dancer Josephine Baker, who pranced around in feathers and tap shoes, and where Ernest Hemingway sat for hours in cafes to concoct Moveable Feast. To this day, the neighbourhood remains an artistic hub, and von Furstenberg sees some of the city's most prestigious museums, smaller galleries and art dealers as her neighbours.

Francois Catroux, the designer's long-time friend, helped with the interiors of the house. Combining their shared sense of glamour and earthly simplicity, they set to work on von Furstenberg's Parisian haven. Like von Furstenberg, Catroux's work is also the epitome of elegance. Together, their aesthetics meshed in perfect harmony to create an elegant home.

Von Furstenberg wanted a living space that doesn't feel overtly decorated, but at the same time be filled with beautiful objects, family relics, and paintings by friends like Andy Warhol and Francois-Marie Banier. It's a dichotomy exemplified in her very designs - the simple, stylish dress often decorated with eye-catching motifs - and one which represents her well.

Like her dresses, the décor of the house is practical and comfort-orientated. The result is a refined, timeless universe where von Furstenberg's collection of original ethnic chic ornaments and eccentric designs fuses harmoniously with contemporary designers' and antique pieces.

Any von Furstenberg fan can instantly find elements of the iconic designer. Her signature prints, such as her zebra motif, appear in different nooks and corners. From the rug in her living room to throw pillows on various sofas and plush chairs, it's hard to miss and easily puts a smile on one's face.

The designer's wish for a fully adorned, but decidedly uncluttered, home is achieved beautifully by Catroux's choice of furnishings, where subtle pieces are placed next to eccentric, overtly embellished and patterned furniture.

Step into her living room, and you'll be welcomed by two large sofas in a lusciously soft golden eggshell tone. It's the perfect foreground to show off the multicoloured art hanging on the clean beige walls.

Where the living room bursts with colour and life, the designer's office brings a more subtle and organised vibe. Avedon black and white photos dress the walls of her work space, while a beige and grey toned sofa is accompanied by patterned cushions Catroux designed. A copper-toned pouf style coffee table by Herve Van der Straeten strikes a glamorous tone, homage to high fashion and Hollywood at the height of the golden era.

And what's more enchanting than a beautifully crafted Wenge floor-to-ceiling bookshelf? The statement piece in her library is filled with books, personal mementos, photos and Warhol's famous pop-art portrait of Marilyn Monroe. It's the perfect relaxation room for the designer's Parisian refuge, a place she can just kick back with a cup of tea and a book, a place to escape.

The calm tones continue into her bedroom. A four-poster bed sits in the centre of the room embraced by rich silk curtains. Simple wooden furniture melds into the rest of the room, but von Furstenberg keeps her distinctive style by employing a light pink leopard-print rug - a motif which features in her designs.

The guest room is where the fashion designer embraces her wild side. The room is lavishly rich in textures and patterns. A beautifully crafted silk folding screen lined with antique nails takes the place of a traditional door and an eye-catching stripped carpet contrasts the abundance of animal motif upholstered furniture, which includes plush chairs and cushions and throw pillows. It's a cacophony which works - and one which attests to von Furstenberg and Catroux's impeccable styles - because of the repetitive but diverse use of both elements. The stripes extend from the grey and red carpet to a more subdued blue green wall, while the animal theme is extended in the artwork hanging above the seating area. As she had wished, her refuge represents the designer. Whether in the quiet low-key rooms or the extravagantly ornate quarters, from the moment you step in, you know you're in the middle of a masterpiece.

It's simple. It's sexy. It's very Diane von Furstenberg.