See Inside: Diane Von Furstenberg’s Parisian Apartment

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG’s apartment has played host to some fabulous parties but most of the time the NYC-based designer uses it as a STYLISH PERSONAL RETREAT …


Seeing how fashion designers live is always fascinating. Their homes are often extraordinary, sometimes to the point where we just cannot imagine how it must be to live in a space that’s so demanding. Too grand, too white, too full of impossible-to-live-with art. But, some designers’ digs reflect a more genuine sense of who they are (no surprise often those whose clothes we find easy to wear), and are full of ideas we long to borrow.

Although the Belgian designer, Diane von Furstenberg married a prince in the sixties, then a billionaire in the nineties, was friends with Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol and many other icons of the fashion and art world, in between she lived a rather less luxurious life in Paris, with the novelist Alain Elkann. And, although she left Paris when this relationship ended in 1989, her very European sensibility was brought to bear on her homes in Manhattan and Connecticut.


Returning often to Paris, it was on one of these trips that she discovered this apartment on the Left Bank and decided that, in spite of its poor state, the views over the neighbourhood of Saint-Germain more than made up for its shortcomings.

She engaged the help of a friend, the discreet interior designer François Catroux whose work for other designers – among them Yves Saint Laurent whose apartment was also on the Left Bank – is known for how cleverly it flatters the personalities of his clients. The brief was to create a stylish retreat with all the comfort and ease of the best hotel suite in the most luxurious hotel in Paris, but to incorporate the DVF way – the mix of styles, periods and patterns she loves. The outcome of their collaboration is a gorgeous refined space with a touch of the exotic that retains her signature sense of informality. 


Responsible for wrapping generations of women in practical patterned dresses (she invented the wrap dress in 1974 that appeared on the cover of Newsweek in 1976 and made her a household name: “That dress paid my bills”), her whole view of design is based on creating effortlessly wearable clothes and workable spaces.

For both fashion and interiors, pattern is key and her inspiration is nature: animal print from leopard to zebra to python, is reinvented in every shade, scaled up and scaled down, and there are florals and chain-link geometrics. Not for her the anodyne neutrality of the plain and simple school of interiors: each room is a jumble of patterns, a mix of looks and books, objects and photographs crowd every surface.


The apartment has an open layout, perfect for entertaining. This is where DVF hosted her famous Americans in Paris cocktail party during fashion week: guests moved from room to room admiring the pieces collected over decades, the quirky touches and catching a glimpse of the glamorous canopied bed in the master bedroom, its drapes puddling on a leopard-print rug of her own design.


Images: The wenge bookshelves in the living room are crowded with books. The elaborate antique daybed, upholstered in rich brocade contrasts with the simple tartan-covered armchair; the dining room with traditional french doors to the balcony overlooking the Romanesque Sacre-Coeur. A pair of Hervé von Straeten taboret capsules are used as low tables beside the acrylic coffee table.

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