Renewal of a Parisian Legend


Lapérouse, preferred restaurant of Zola, Colette, George Clooney and Kate Moss, is hosting what might be fashion week’s most impressive celebration.

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Credit Roberto Frankenberg for The New York City Times

PARIS– “This has constantly been a home of pleasures– of gastronomy, of the flesh, of drinking, smoking and seduction, of discussion, literature and the arts,” stated Benjamin Patou, the jovial, workaholic 42- year-old business owner who has actually been described in the French media as the king of Parisian night life.

He likewise is the newest owner of what as soon as was one of Paris’s a lot of risqué institutions, the restaurant Lapérouse, whose grand reopening event is arranged for Wednesday.

” It’s a famous house,” he said. “It’s had 150 lives.” Now it is on its 151 st.

The christening during guys’s fashion week promises to be an epic event, with a masked ball (” it’s going to be ‘Eyes Wide Shut’,” Mr. Patou said jokingly), nearly 500 visitors, torchbearers, costumed stars and a synthetic elephant stationed in front of the dining establishment’s exterior at 51 Quai des Grands Augustins. The film director Claude Lelouch is to be on hand with a team to record the scene for his next movie, “Les Fantômes de Lapérouse.” And the author Frédéric Beigbeder is working on a collection of narratives about the location, to be published by Albin Michel.

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Credit Roberto Frankenberg for The New York City Times

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Credit Roberto Frankenberg for The New York Times

After all, the revival of a style home is an old story. But the rebirth of a home more than 250 years of ages, with a world-class cellar of Burgundy wines; a hotbed of politics, literature and the arts from the time Jules Lapérouse took it over and gave it his name in the mid-19 th century well into the 20 th; a place that Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Honoré de Balzac, Colette, Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor went to for its popular sauces? That’s something to get back at the most seasoned style-setter delighted.

The bar location and two dining rooms were revamped by Laura Gonzalez, the interior designer behind such jobs as the Pierre Hermé and L’Occitane cooperation on the Champs-Élysées and the revamping of Régine’s. She also revitalized the 7 salons and produced a new boudoir-like area from a former back office. The entire now looks like a Venetian palazzo compressed into the Orient Express.

The table dressings, menu illustrations and “L” logo that appears on floral china by Bernardaud, frosted glass doors, chair backs and carpeting are the work of Cordelia de Castellane, who also is the imaginative director of Child Dior and Dior Maison

The chef Jean-Pierre Vigato, previously of the Michelin-starred restaurant Apicius, is in charge of the range; desserts are by the pastry chef Christophe Michalak.

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Credit Matthieu Salvaing

Mr. Patou is the founder and president of the restaurant and nightspot empire called the Moma Group (other venues include Manko Paris, a dining establishment with a racy after-midnight cabaret, and Victoria, whose downstairs club was created by Lenny Kravitz). Moma, an independently held business, doesn’t release profits figures however Mr. Patou said it made 80 million euros (or $898 million) in2018

The Berluti president Antoine Arnault, scion of the LVMH founder and chairman Bernard Arnault and partner of the model Natalia Vodianova, is a minority owner of Lapérouse, the very first time he has actually bought a dining establishment.

” Lapérouse is a myth and as such instantly brings to my mind both the heritage and storytelling of a lovely Parisian sleeping charm,” Mr. Arnault stated. “I find that it has many resemblances with my activities within the [LVMH] group, where creative talent and heritage work together.”

Mr. Patou initially set eyes on Lapérouse in his 20 s, throughout a short stint as a press officer there. He has been out to dominate it ever since.

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Credit Photographs by Roberto Frankenberg for The New York Times

” It was a coup de foudre,” he stated, using the French phrase that is the equivalent of falling head over heels. “I informed myself that someday it would be mine.”

In 2015, he landed his reward, purchasing the location from the business owners Jérôme Schabanel and Grégory Lentz. Mr. Patou decreased to elaborate on the purchase and renovation costs, stating only that Lapérouse has been his most ambitious job to date.

The passages still feel as though La Belle Otéro, the legendary Belle Époque courtesan, is relaxing right around the corner. Her name is emblazoned on the tiniest of the intimate dining salons, one simply large enough for a table, 2 chairs and a love seat. On its walls are restored old paintings of monkeys at play, embossed leather wallpaper and one of the scratched-on Venetian mirrors for which Lapérouse is famous.

Generations of rich and influential power brokers came here to charm ladies not their spouses– and dining establishment legend has it that demimondaines who got diamonds from their enthusiasts utilized to check the gems’ authenticity by scratching the mirrors’ surfaces. Throughout the years it became a ritual and among the guests who have actually scrawled for posterity are Madonna, Amber Heard, George Clooney and Kate Moss, whose contribution reads: “It’s 2 late 2 go 2 bed.”

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Credit Roberto Frankenberg for The New York City Times

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Credit Roberto Frankenberg for The New York Times

In couture’s golden age of the 1950 s and ’60 s some women, too, would slip over to Lapérouse to see and to seduce without being seen. The dining establishment’s published history includes Hubert de Givenchy stating a check out to study the sumptuous design for a faithful client who had actually asked for matching gowns in gold, red and green, but with zippers in back so her enthusiasts might remove them quickly.

Lapérouse ended up being one of the very first Michelin three-star restaurants in Paris, in 1933 (the other was La Tour d’Argent). However it lost its luster as the century endured, becoming something like the Rainbow Room of Paris, where well-to-do households would celebrate their young passing the baccalaureate evaluation, or an engagement. Mr. Patou remembered bringing a date here; years later on, he stated, he returned to celebrate his child’s First Communion.

Fashion brands have actually used the location for personal dinners, discussions and programs. Now, presumably, they’ll be back in force. And next spring, as part of the remodelling of the Hôtel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde, Mr. Patou and Mr. Arnault plan to unveil a Café Lapérouse flagship, with a menu developed by Mr. Michalak. It will remain in company with a new Moma Group restaurant managed by the chef Jean-François Piège, of Le Grand Restaurant, La Poule au Pot and Clover Grill.

All of which highlights why Mr. Patou said he thought about Lapérouse “the observatory for Parisian life. Anything can occur here. There was the Transformation, the Commune, the flood of 1910, May1968 You could state the entire history of Paris and of France without going anywhere else.”

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