PaperCity Magazine

September 2016 - Houston

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Page 134 of 197

I n the world of Prosper Assouline, books are elevated beyond words and pictures to exquisite objets d'art. His eponymous publishing company, which he runs with wife Martine, creates some of the most coveted books on style found anywhere in the world, on topics ranging from architecture, art, design and fashion to gastronomy, lifestyle, photography and travel. Known for lavishly photographed, hand-bound volumes, Assouline has partnered with luxury brands Cartier, Dior, Valentino and Louis Vuitton to produce limited-edition books and collaborated with fascinating tastemakers such as Lee Radziwill, to tell their stories. At Assouline, a book is often judged by its cover; as such, the dapper, elegant and slightly impish Prosper is a thriller and a page-turner. As he walked into a private dinner in his honor at La Table restaurant in Houston this spring, heads swiveled. There was no fanfare, no back-slap greetings from Prosper; it was more akin to a bookish pope gliding into a room of apostles. Prosper was in town to view the new Assouline bookstore installed along the walls of the mighty staircase that ascends to the second-floor La Table dining room with its views of glistening Post Oak Boulevard. The clever French publishing company, along with Alex Gaudelet of Invest Hospitality, came up with the idea, and the shop within a restaurant was soon installed, with Prosper's guidance and blessing. W ithin the walls of the Assouline offices, the book is tantamount to art — for instance, the Chanel Luxury Set, a sold-out 2011 book about the legendary fashion house, included a three-volume case made from signature black quilted leather and stamped with a silver metal Chanel logo (the slipcase is still in stock). South Pole: The British Antarctic expedition 1910-1913 (2016, $4,500) is a hand-bound, oversized limited edition signed by MORE THAN MERE COFFEE-TABLE TOMES, ASSOULINE'S ULTRA-SOPHISTICATED BOOKS HAVE LAUNCHED THE COMPANY, FOUNDED 22 YEARS AGO BY PROSPER AND MARTINE ASSOULINE, INTO A SMART, LUST-WORTHY LIFESTYLE BRAND. BY REBECCA SHERMAN GLORY BOUND for Monaco's Prince Albert and Britain's Princess Anne and touted as the world's first waterproof coffee-table book. Only 150 were made, so time is of the essence. This month alone, Assouline will release 40 new books, including one of Prosper's favorites, The Impossible Collection of Wine, an oversized limited-edition, hand-bound treatise on the 100 most exceptional vintages of the 20th century, which comes packaged in a wooden wine crate for $845. "I'm very excited about this one. It's spectacular," Prosper says of the book written by Enrico Bernardo, the acclaimed former sommelier at Four Seasons Georges V in Paris. He's also enthusiastic about The Queen's People, ($845), covering English royal protocol, past, present and future. A Buckingham Palace commission, Prosper worked with Queen Elizabeth II on the book and included her letters and photographs. W hen they launched their Paris-based publishing house in 1994, Prosper had a background in fashion and magazine publishing, and Martine was an attorney and a publicist at the fashion house Rochas. Their first book, La Colombe d'Or, celebrated the hotel in the South of France where they often spent weekends. "We were Assouline Interiors armchair and lamp from the High Society collection in love with this place, so we decided why don't we do a book?" recalls Prosper from Assouline's New York offices. Martine handled the text for the book, while Prosper did the graphic design. It was a small, quiet hotel without pretense, but the book captured La Colombe d'Or's charm, the kind of savoir vivre that eventually became Assouline's trademark. Almost 1,500 titles later, the French version of how to live the good life is paramount in all of Assouline's books, and continues to drive its focus, no matter the topic. The Assoulines' roles at the company have remained constant: Prosper, 57, is the company's creative director, while Martine, 63, is editorial director. Each project is a joint effort from start to finish. "Sometimes we have a different point of view," he says, "but we don't fight. Martine sees something different, and I see something different, but 95 percent of the time, we agree on everything. It's a conversation." O ver the last five years, the publishing house — which has offices in New York, Paris and London — has been quietly building itself into a luxury brand, with offerings ranging from candles and stationery to ambitious library design services. Their series of lifestyle products capture the kind of literary life Prosper and Martine adore: Assouline aromatic candles based on the scent of a library, glamorous handcrafted bookcases, desks and library lighting, special- edition Goyard travel trunks, rugs and case goods that evoke the written word, all layered with vintage books, objects and antiques scouted by Prosper on his travels. Assouline now has more than 20 shops located across the globe, from Istanbul, Seoul, Mexico City and Los Angeles to Prosper and Martine Assouline in their NYC apartment Martine & Prosper Assouline's Paris apartment 131

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