PaperCity Magazine

September 2016 - Houston

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 74 of 197

Y our stories still hang in your freshened air. Hem- ingway, Fitzgerald, Eva Perón, Ingrid Bergman. They all stayed. Dukes, duchesses, Dodi, Diana. They've been staying since 1898, when Swiss hotelier César Ritz flung open your doors. The heiresses, the aris- tocrats, the scions, the swans. Gossip col- umnist Elsa Maxwell threw herself a "little party" in the 1920s, inviting 300 guests for a buffet supper. (Serge Diaghilev sent his dance company to perform in the garden.) Audrey Hepburn and Maurice Chevalier — Mr. Paris! — filmed scenes for Billy Wilder's Love in the Afternoon. The stories go on and on: of wartime trysts, of parties divine. The fashion pack. The financiers. They all stayed. They did more than stay: They lived. Please, let's talk of Coco. Yes, Mademoiselle Chanel famously slept every night for almost 40 years in one of your suites — she furnished it herself — even though she had a very famous apartment above her very famous rue Cam- bon boutique, within walking distance. Let's talk of Marcel. The inimitable Mr. Proust is inextricably linked to you, too. For him, you were a haven. He may have written his stories from his cork-lined bedroom in his house on Boulevard Haussmann, but, as he said, he "went to the Ritz to live." He wrote much of his Remembrance of Things Past there. He had a warm friendship with your longtime senior maitre d'hotel, Olivier Dab- escat. And Proust's deathbed request? He sent for a bottle of his favorite beer, always kept on ice for him at the Ritz. A toast, before we sign off, to owner Mo- hamed Al Fayed, who bought you — lock, stock, and barrel — in 1979, renovated you through the '80s, and renovated you once again, just now. A toast, too, to Thierry W. Despont, Ltd., the New York firm that tackled this little pirouette between the past and the future. The disciples were nervous. Said its France-born principal — he has designed stores for Harry Winston and Ralph Lauren, the Decorative Arts galleries in the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and has overseen the renovation of everything from the Statue of Liberty to The Carlyle hotel — to Vanity Fair before your reopening: "If I don't do a good job on this one, I'll have to move to Patagonia!" Something tells us Monsieur Despont won't be packing his bags. (continued on page 72) 71

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - September 2016 - Houston