All the buzz about Valentino: The Last Emperor had me going back to look at the Paris Penthouse of Giancarlo Giammetti, the business brains counterpart to Valentino’s creative genius. There is luxury and then there is the luxurious and lavish lifestyle of Giancarlo and Valentino. It’s beyond perfection and so is this duplex penthouse a top a 1930’s building on the Left Bank’s Quoi d’Orsay that was created by combining three apartments that were first gutted and carefully crafted by architect Peter Marino. I hear Marino is working on a book right now and I hope this apartment is front and center since it’s one of my all time favorites.
There are two great articles that have been written about this apartment, the first was published in Vogue in 1997 that has since been published in Vogue Living: Houses, Garden, People
in which Giammetti and Marino outline all the amazing details. The second was published in the November 2004 issue of Town and Country that showcases the details in better photos by the late photographer Fernando Bongoechea. Both are definitely worth checking out.
Giammetti did not just give Marino free reign to do as he pleased and was very involved in the decoration. “All my homes are about my style and taste, which I have developed over the years,” he stated. “This apartment is from the 1930’s, a very good period for contemporary art. It’s also very good for old furniture. I like the idea of clean architecture and eclectic decoration.”
Giammetti has a superb collection of modern art including two Andy Warhol Lenin’s, one red and one black, found years apart but paired up in the dining area. He also has a Warhol Double Elvis
that was moved to London and replaced by a Rothko. There is also the Cy Twombly piece over the fireplace. The fireplace is Belgian black marble that Marino stated was the only kind without veins and is instead inlaid with silver which complement the skirting boards of hammered silver-plated bronze.
The furniture also to die floor and includes pieces by Jean-Michel Frank, Lalanne, Eileen Gray, and Adnet in addition to a 17th-century Japanese lacquer chest and pair of tables inspired by Eugene Printz in the dining room that are surrounded by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann chairs. The colors in the apartment are mostly black, silver and grey with touches of red in the artwork.
The show stoppers in the apartment at the Francis Bacon painting, Study for a Portrait
, of George Dyer, in front of which sits a Claude Lalanne alligator chair. It was mentioned in both articles that the curves of the painting mirror those of the bay window which turns out was not a coincidence. “We changed the bay,” said Marino. Evidence that no detail was overlooked and no expense was spared!
When talking about Giammetti, Marino remarked that he “will always go for the one great object because he knows it’s an important object. he’s in the style making business and while Valentino’s a sensualist, Giammetti’s an intellectual. He’s a trend spotter; he directs business that business. Keeps it modern.” Just like his apartment.
In the master bedroom, the wrought-iron and gilt-bronze bed from Ariane Dandois (remember her?) depicts serpents so of course the spread was woven to resemble snakeskin. The photographs in the room are by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Giammetti loved the attention to detail from Marino saying, “I adore the way Peter works on the total look; everything’s so smooth and the craftsmanship is so incredible. He was calling this house a couture apartment.”
Marino said that the apartment proves his theory that, ” you can mix good contemporary architecture with antiques, modern paintings and modern textiles and still be comfortable.” He also calls it a standout and one that people remember. I know I certainly did! But what I love about the apartment was even though it was completed in 1997, it doesn’t look dated at all. Giammetti also hasn’t left it as a shrine to Marino. He moves paintings and objects and so it continues to look fresh and new even more than 10 years later. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the sumptuous lifestyle of Giammetti and Valentino in the documentary. It’s just perfection!
Photos by Fernando Bengoechea