The French Connection – Honoring Jacques Grange
Jacques Grange’s Wikipedia bio—166 words—doesn’t do him justice. But it’s fitting. He’s known as a designer to the stars who prefers to let his rooms speak for themselves. Despite his minimal public persona, or perhaps because of it, I’ve always been fascinated by his personal story.
Imagine being in your twenties, just starting out in your career, and one of your most satisfied clients is Yves Saint Laurent. (Truthfully, Grange says his first “important client” was an Iranian princess living in exile.) Over the course of his career, he’s worked on six homes for the late Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge, starting with their 1920s villa and botanical garden in Morocco. Although he’s well versed in North African and even Oriental styles, Grange is undeniably French. He even lives in the former home of the country’s most famous female novelist, Colette (author of Gigi). Decorated with rare 18th, 19th and 20th century art and furniture, the avid collector’s Palais Royal apartment could easily be another museum in Paris!
Although he was classically trained—studying at Paris’s E‘cole Boulle and then under the wing of Henri Samuel, he takes risks. He’s often described as fearless, amusing, and inimitable. Many of us like to say we mix old and new, East and West, etc. Still, few of us do so as boldly as the man who used Monet’s Water Lilies as the inspiration for the ground floor of Saint Laurent’s French Chateau and also first experienced New York during the days of Andy Warhol. Simply put, his inspiration, and execution, runs the gamut.
His client list, on the other hand, is pretty predictable: influential, accomplished and rich—think billionaire. Princess Caroline of Monaco, Francis Ford Coppola, Karl Lagerfeld, Aerin Lauder and Valentino all have homes graced with Grange’s timeless, yet comfortably sophisticated, touch. On my next trip to New York, I’d love to stay in The Mark hotel and shop at The Row (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Upper East Side store) to see some of his work in public spaces.
He’s not a very public person—no website, although his phone number is listed in his bio on the 2017 AD 100 list—but the 72-year-old does have Instagram! In fact, I read in an interview with Olivia Palermo that it’s one of her go-to sources for inspiration. But perhaps the best way to really get a feel for his amazing aesthetic is to get your hands on his book, Jacques Granges Interiors. Written by his longtime partner, Pierre Passebon, the book is an intimate look at some of his grandest rooms. Trust me, you’ll never be able to look at your coffee table again. Regardless of what you’re in the middle of, you’ll want to stop and open the book. In doing so, you can escape into an idyllic world of carefully curated interiors. A world created by someone who was clearly put on this earth to create.
“If you are a creator and you love art, you need to reevaluate. You cannot stay the same.” – Jacques Grange