As Marcel Proust, Saint Laurent's favorite novelist, once noted, "The only paradise is paradise lost."

By Balthazar Malevolent


Few people have the assurance — or the means — to juxtapose Picasso and Goya's paintings with Jean-Michel Frank's furniture, and then top it all off with bronzes from the Renaissance. Yet this is exactly what fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his life and business partner Pierre Bergé, created at their nine-room duplex on Left Bank in Paris, one of the 20th century's superlative interiors.

Saint Laurent dines at home on January 21, 2002, the day before his last fashion show. Pierre Bergé enters the room as a servant walks past.

"It was just a picture of Saint Laurent's eyes," says Muriel Brandolini, Manhattan-based interior decorator. "There's such a disparity in how the gathering is being done today, just speculation. He was a real knower. Everyone he has gained has their own dignity, power and elegance.

The couturier, who died at the age of 71 in 2008, was fascinated with Art Deco, and the property at 55 rue de Babylone, with its provenance from the 1920s, appealed to the tastes of both him and Bergé. They were also delighted that former resident Marie Cuttoli, popular in the '30s for reviving the French tapestry industry, had covered up the walls of the duplex with weavings crafted by contemporary artists. The fashion couple, bringing the tradition forward, fitted the spaces — including the salon, seen, captured in 2008—with formidable paintings, sculpture, and furnishings.

Saint Laurent in his rue de Babylone bedroom in 1974, with Hazel, his Chihuahua. Behind the bed hangs a Pierre Colin study of Josephine Baker; a lynx spread covers the bed.

Interior designer Jacques Grange helped polish the decoration as the rooms of the apartment were abundantly enriched — by Old Master paintings, a rare Eileen Gray dragon chair, and the prolific Lalannes designed surreal fancies. The bronzes of the Renaissance represented the affection of Saint Laurent for the art-loving Rothschild dynasty, and his loyalty to Frank expressed his fondness for the irascible arts patron Marie-Laure de Noailles, Frank's seminal clientele.

His and Bergé's headquarters were sold after Saint Laurent's death, auctioned at Christie's in 2009 for $484 million — the Gray chair alone brought in just over $28 million. Notwithstanding, or maybe because of, the dispersal of the apartment's legend will certainly keep through. As Marcel Proust, Saint Laurent's favorite novelist, once noted, "The only paradise is paradise lost."

The dining room as it appeared in AD in 1988.

Next time we will invite you inside Rick Owens and Michele Lamy's mindblowing Parisian house. Stay tuned!

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