When your neighbours include Gucci, Dior and Chanel, it really wouldn’t do to look scruffy. Happily, this luxurious Paris flat has been dressed to the nines in one-of-a-kind, made-to-measure finery
There might be nothing but a river separating them, but the Right Bank of Paris is a world away from the bohemian rive gauche. There are no artists starving in garrets here, no students plotting revolution in the cafés. Instead, rich, glossy citizens and well-heeled visitors soak up the confident, moneyed atmosphere and spend big on the area’s twin attractions: haute couture and haute cuisine.
The Avenue Montaigne is the epicentre of this chi-chi world. At the top of the elegant tree-lined boulevard is the Champs-Elysées. At the bottom is the Seine, along with an eye-popping vista of the Eiffel Tower. In between is the crème de la crème of the fashion world: Chanel, Dior, Prada, Chloe, Givenchy and Gucci – everyone, in other words, who is anyone. Glamour has never been in short supply: Marlene Dietrich moved into number 12 following her triumphant comeback concert after the war and lived out her last years there. Another femme fatale, Mata Hara, was apprehended at number 25, the famous Plaza Athénée Hotel, and later shot for espionage.
The avenue’s current residents are not letting the side down. Behind the pale stone façade of one of its stately Haussmann buildings is a recently renovated second-floor apartment that fully lives up to its chic surroundings. The owners, a couple who travel frequently on business, wanted a base where they could relax and entertain in style between trips. Louis Henri Bührmann, a South African-born interior designer who has had his main office in London for the past decade, was the man charged with taking on the project.
His style, an unmistakable blend of elegance, craftsmanship and sophisticated luxury, has found its home here. Even so, this was no quick-fix solution. “I worked on the concept for a year before we even started, and then with the architects for a further five months,” says Louis. “Overall, the project took four years to complete.”
This lengthy timescale can be explained by the state of the apartment before the designer got his hands on it, and the intricate work he then lavished on it. “It was in a real mess, and didn’t function well at all. Most of the rooms needed a complete renovation,” he recalls. On the positive side, its position and large windows meant it got a lot of beautiful light, and it had owners who were happy to spend what was necessary to get it looking as good as it could: “The clients asked that the focus of the project be on creating a bespoke and unique interior. To this end, we were given free rein to use the best possible materials and the most highly skilled craftsmen.” It took him six months to find the right tradesmen, eventually employing several family firms that were established back in the 1800s. Fifth-generation marble masons were hired to create and install the hand-cut marble in the main bathroom.
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 194-205, issue 96.
Words Judy Diamond
Photography Richard Waite