Hotel Watch: Hôtel Montana with Vincent Darré
Hotel Watch: Hôtel Montana with Vincent Darré
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Vincent Darré
Portrait by Christophe Roué

Imagine being handed the keys to the home of a Parisian eccentric. That was the thinking behind the six apartment suites of the recently reopened Hôtel Montana in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, marking the first hotel project of Vincent Darré. For this storied Parisian establishment, it makes for the perfect match with the designer's signature Surrealist-led interiors evoking a cast of iconic personalities past and present including Christian Bérard, Jean Cocteau, Pierre Le-Tan and Le Corbusier. In marked contrast, the site’s strict black façade, designed by architect Elisabeth Lemercier, gives nothing away.

The legendary Café de Flore is only a hop away but Le Montana guests can also choose to be entertained at home, moving from cocktails in the hotel’s cosy ground floor bar, with its blue velvet sofas and black wallpaper illustrated with plant specimens, to the La Gauche Caviar restaurant on the first floor to feast on signature dishes like salmon and Petrossian Caviar before hitting the site’s iconic basement club, which opens at midnight. A top-floor sushi bar is also in the works.

The spacious themed suites, each boasting a Serge Gainsbourg-style black-tiled bathroom and a mix of quirky designs by Maison Darré and unique flea market finds, are reached by lift and prefaced by mini corridors clad in eye-popping carpets and wallpapers by Maison Darré and Hermès. Once inside, a riot of texture, print and colour delivers a double whammy to the senses, from Surrealist-inspired Pierre Frey fabrics and bespoke carpets in spiralling geometric motifs by Maison Darré to hand-painted Cubist-style fresques and Le Corbusier-esque palettes.

Each suite is a mini world in itself, each boasting a different shape, be it curved or hexagonal, from Noir Métaphysique, where striking marquetry-style black and white panels of painted perspectives form the walls, with an eye-print carpet underfoot, to the distinctly Seventies-Sci-Fi, Paco Rabanne-style Miroir d’Argent suite clad in brushed metal, with this idea of “reflecting the Parisian skies”. Esensual Living met with Darré in the hotel's Noir Métaphysique suite to talk projects, bedrooms and vivid dreams.




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Vivid furniture by Maison Darré in the Noir Métaphysique suite
Courtesy of Hôtel Montana
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A black Serge Gainsbourg-style bathroom at the Hôtel Montana
Courtesy of Hôtel Montana
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The Hôtel Montana bar
Courtesy of Le Montana

ESENSUAL LIVING: Tell us about the history of Le Montana.

VINCENT DARRE: Today it is a luxury hotel but it was always an underground address. It was the hotel of the Existentialists, like Juliette Gréco, and later, at the end of the Seventies, all the Antonio Lopez girls – Grace Jones, Jessica Lange...

EL: What was your vision for the suites?

VD: I was given carte blanche and this was really an exercise in style for me, the opportunity to do something totally unexpected. For me it's not like a hotel at all. I had this idea of an American in Paris having access to something very Parisian. There’s also this feeling of a private members club, where each floor boasts an apartment belonging to a personality.

EL: What does the bedroom symbolize for you?

VD: The bedroom is the most important room in my home. It also serves as my office: I work in bed, read in bed, make all my calls and hang out with my friends. I once threw a pyjama party dinner for friends on my bed and it ended up collapsing!

EL: What’s the most special bedroom you’ve ever stayed in?

VD: It was in the apartment of Marie Brandolini in the Palazzo Brandolini in Venice, a chapel-like room with behind my bed a fresque by Lila de Nobili, an amazing woman who worked with Visconti.

EL: Each of the suites at the Montana boasts a bespoke headboard. What do headboards add to a bedroom? 

VD: For me, the bedding always has to be white but I love a dramatic Baroque or Surrealist-inspired headboard. It’s such an important detail; I hate it when beds are just set against a wall without anything behind them.

EL: Your design universe is so imaginative, do you tend you have vivid dreams?

VD: I always dream, if I have a banal dream I wake up in a bad mood. I had this dream where I was on a cliff overlooking turquoise waters and Pegasus suddenly emerged from the sea, touched my fingers and flew off. I was having a conversation with Pierre Le-Tan and he agrees that the night is like a parallel universe.

EL: What’s in store for 2016?

VD: I’m working on a Saint-Germain-des-Prés boutique for a trendy eyewear designer whose name I can’t yet disclose. It will be quite different from anything I've done before. I'm also looking for a new base for Maison Darré, this time it will be in an apartment. It’s a new chapter for me.

EL: And your Christmas plans?

VD: I hate Christmas but I’ll be spending it in Morocco with Arielle Dombasle who absolutely loves it, she always does this huge tree and gets more excited than the kids. She often asks me to dress up as Father Christmas to offer the presents but the last time I had a little too much to drink and it all went a bit pear-shaped. [Laughs.]


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