Monday, December 19, 2011

A Quiet Moment: A Poem by Pablo Neruda

Inspiration to Ponder Over the Holidays 

–Pablo Neruda
And it was at that age...
Poetry arrived
In search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
It came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
No, they were not voices, they were not
Words, nor silence,
But from a street I was summoned,
From the branches of night,
Abruptly from the others,
Among violent fires
On returning alone,
There I was without a face
And it touched me.

And I wrote the first faint line,
Faint without substance, pure
Pure wisdom,
Of someone who knows nothing
And suddenly I saw
The heavens unfasten and open
Palpitating plantations
Shadow perforated
With arrows, fire and flowers,
The winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
Drunk with the great starry void,
Likeness, image of
Felt myself a pure part
Of the abyss
I wheeled with the stars,
My heart broke loose on the wind.

Thank you, Pablo.

Neruda’s poem recalls Gerald Manley Hopkins...especially at the end.

For soaring beauty and insight, a sense of worlds and wonder, Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poems can offer a moment of ‘wheeling with the stars’. 

Soaring into 2012
And I would like to add this lovely inspiration sent to me today by my friend Jan Shrem, owner of Clos Pegase Winery in the Napa Valley:

‘I wish you an ethereal sense of search in life towards love, longing and wonderment of the world.’

I wish you every happiness


Photography exclusively for THE STYLE SALONISTE by Diane Dorrans Saeks
Blog art direction: Brian Dittmar

Monday, December 12, 2011

A New Fabulous Reason Why I Adore Paris: The Newest 5-star Hotel in Paris

Le Royal Monceau—Raffles Paris hotel in the Eighth Arrondissement, just opened, very exciting, and every inch of the 1920s building has been brilliantly re-imagined by the great Philippe Starck.

It’s intelligent, chic, witty, and such a fresh and thrilling experience. It’s a few steps from the Arc de Triomphe and the Parc Monceau.

Just back from Paris
Among treasures that make the Le Royal Monceau Raffles-Paris (the official full name) one of my new ‘top’ hotels in Paris:

An entrancing restaurant, La Cuisine; an art library with rare and arcane books; a wonderfully crated selection of contemporary art pieces to acquire; an art concierge, Domoina de Brantes. More about those in a second after I’ve shown you some pictures.

The hotel has lovely, cheerful and professional staff, plus rooms that feel residential and wonderfully inventive. And it is near the upper reaches of the Champs-Elysees.

Oh, and did I say it has a private cinema, so you can show your new film to your pals or a beloved select group (Carine Roitfeld, Catherine Deneuve, Pierre Berge or Jack Lang, for starters?) 

When I arrive and check into a hotel, I want to be swept away to an experience I will never forget. I love a warm and polished greeting at the door, a swift pace from the arrival to my room, and a sense of arriving somewhere I’ve never been before. I want a totally new territory…a dream factory, really.

I can instantly tell if a hotel is well managed and directed—and if it has a soul. And in this case, Raffles management and Philippe Starck, at his best and most mellow and thoughtful, has imbued the hotel with charm, wit, comfort, and a sense of place, a character that's welcoming and not trying too hard to be hip.

It's a new way of being in Paris. Starck’s hand is on every aspect of the hotel—from the chairs in the lobby to the cluster of historic chandeliers above the stairway, to the lighting (magical) and the ‘lovers’ rendezvous’ secluded seating off the main salon. While the images look quite dramatic—in fact the salon and dining rooms could be described as chic cozy.

Love it. 

Le Royal Monceau has a salon/bar/lounge where you could happily linger all day, grabbing the Financial Times, enjoying a bite of lunch, sipping a power drink later, flirting, reading Le Monde and Le Figaro, finding a book to bury in, chatting with some new friends, meeting a lover, more flirting, and later sitting at the Starck-imagined Long Bar as it swings into action.

For fun and poetry and flirting: dial Le Royal Monceau.

Originally built in 1928, Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris had a soft opening last year after undergoing a complete transformation spearheaded by renowned designer Philippe Starck.

His concept is to emphasize the hotel’s connection with the art and film life in Paris. Staff can connect guests in a very ‘insider’ way with cultural events, gallery openings, exhibitions, films, events and museums. Starck curated the photography collection of the hotel—which is dramatic and leads guests to discover new photographers and talent.

The designer has changed the entry, and re-configured the reception (private) and the restaurants, which now overlook a pretty courtyard.

With more suites than any other hotel in Paris, the property features eighty-five rooms, fifty-four suites and ten apartments, each well-thought out and with a hint of Starck’s signature hint of droll humor. 

Intensely focused on art and culture, Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris offers a series of unique amenities designed to spark creativity among guests.

OK, you might not want to take up the acoustic guitar you’ll find near your bed (Philippe Starck thought it would add a sign of life). As Starck noted, there is also a desk that offers multiple scenarios (writing, dining, painting). 

But most intriguingly, the hotel has Paris’ first art concierge

Domoina de Brantes, fully immersed in the art world, has a most helpful site,, which lists daily cultural events, films, shows, and art openings.

For me, she mapped out an afternoon of fascinating art viewing. She created a map, proposed a possible route, and suggested options of new shows, a private viewing at a top gallery, and introduced me to new galleries I’d never visited. She’ll find you the newest exhibits, propose an up-and-coming gallery, and send you to neighborhoods seldom visited.

De Brantes will arrange for bespoke cultural experiences and artistic discoveries beyond the hotel. At the adjacent the hotel bookstore that offers more than 700 titles focusing on design, art and architecture she can find books on the exhibits you’ve just seen, or monographs on favorite contemporary artists. This is such a fantastic service at the Monceau. 

Recently I had a little chat with Domoina:

DDS: What special access can you provide to your guests outside the hotel? 
DDB: My role is to be the link between the art and cultural world and the guests of the hotel and to satisfy each guest’s demand. My team and I are working on special packages for guests and our objective is to provide a very unique and exclusive service. For example I can organize for a guest, a private visit of an exhibition that is taking place in Le Centre Georges Pompidou.

DDS: Have new technologies affected how guests can interact with you? 
DDB: I am really lucky because the service of Art Concierge is totally new and therefore the guests of the hotel are very interested in meeting the person in charge of this service. And everyone can see the art and cultural activities of the hotel, some recommendations from the Art Concierge and also some interviews from artists specially done for the Royal Marceau’s blog,

DDS: What are some idiosyncrasies about your destination that visitors should know?
DDB: I am a fan of street art. So I recommend to travellers who come to Paris to go and have a look at the street art spots of the City of Lights. There is one that I particularly like in the 11th district of Paris, which is called “Le mur”. Every two weeks a new poster measuring four metres by eight meters is done by a local artist. This is at the corner of the rue Saint-Maur and rue Oberkampf. 

Creativity: I love this sense of life and art at Le Royal Monceau
Recently there was a show of Dennis Hopper’s work at the hotel. Or the art concierge will lead you to the most discussed contemporary art. Showcasing four major installations annually, the gallery encourages open dialogue among artists in tune with the world at large.

Art concierge, Domoina de Brantes

Contact Domoina at or check on

On the Menu
Paris is the total exception to the adage ‘never dine in a hotel restaurant’. Many top hotels (Costes, definitely, and Plaza-Athenee, Crillon, Meurice, Raphael, spring to mind) have an atmospheric restaurant where dining is superbly presented and Parisians make up most of the clientele.

Le Royal Monceau leaps forward to first among many—with Pierre Herme as the patissier, and a fabulous ‘casual/dressy’ La Cuisine (The Kitchen) restaurant, where you can gather at a long table for lunch, or snuggle in a private banquette for a romantic dinner.

I was so impressed with the freshness and modernity of the ultra-seasonal fresh menus at La Cuisine restaurant. Everything on the menu is what you want to eat that very day, that moment. Dishes are classically inspired-but arrive at the table looking inspired, beautifully presented, high on flavor and visual delight. I dine there even when I’m not staying at the hotel. I met my friend Jean-Louis there, and he loved it.

You might want to dash over to the hotel for brunch on Saturdays (until noon)…or for lunch (until 2.30) on Sundays. 

Here are some selections from the Royal lunch on Sundays:
I’ve gone a bit overboard with the following menus…skip over them if you are not interested in Paris dining (Hah!)

Sweet …

La Boulangerie: A selection of Pierre Hermé Paris breads and viennoiseries (croissants, Ispahan, pains au chocolat), Kouign-amann cakes, Kugelhopfs, pumpkin muffins, seasonal fruit tarts.

Seasonal fruit salad, plain or with juice.

Smoothie shooters: The “Energizer”—low-fat or regular yoghurt with orange juice, banana, strawberries and honey; the “Relaxer”— strawberries, mangoes, bananas, guava nectar and coconut extract.

Sublime deserts by Pierre Hermé Paris: Miss Gla’Gla, the “instant millefeuille,” waffles and crepes prepared to order, Tarte infiniment caramel, Ispahan, and Pierre Hermé’s classic.

And savory …

Dairy/ Laitiers: Organic yoghurt, ripened cheeses, relishes and chutneys, fromage frais or faisselle, plain or with fines herbes and pepper.

From the farm: Eggs to order

Selection of salads: Classics and more. The traditional Caesar; the Pommé (mango and green papaya, walnut oil and sesame); organic endives with Roquefort and chestnut honey; mâche and duck foie gras croutons. 

La Cuisine restaurant
Breakfast from 7am to noon (€45)
And from noon to 2:30pm (€69)

Royal Brunch, Sunday from noon to 3pm (€95)

Reservations: 01 42 99 88 00

For lunch or dinner, for the winter season:
Seafood jelly, avocado cream, emulsion of warm Royal
29.00 €

Served on a salad of autumn vegetables, Paris button mushroom marmalade
35.00 €

Charlotte potato salad, baby onions and pickles
23.00 €

Barolo vinegar preserved shallots, mesclun salad
25.00 €

From the sea: 
Potato and shellfish stew, gratinated razor clams, mortar-mixed green herb
41.00 €

Polenta, black olives and dried tomato condiments
45.00 €

Spinach, Paris button mushrooms, shrimps and potatoes Arbois wine sauce
43.00 €

From the land:
Chartreuse of offal meats, romaine salad, souffléed potatoes, beef jus
55.00 €

Autumn vegetables with garlic butter
47.00 €

Turnips, carrots, baby onions, blanquette sauce
45.00 €

The Genius of Paris Patissier, Pierre Herme
Pierre Herme is the patissier at Le Royal Monceau—and that would be one great reason why I love this hotel. Pierre Herme is the genius patissier whose Left Bank shop on rue Bonaparte I visit almost (well, almost) every day when I’m in Paris. That’s where I buy Ispahan pastires with rose petals, and his wonderful white truffle divine macaroons (in season), and the passionfruit macaroon.

Pierre Herme makes the most wonderful Mille Feuille pastries—that you can custom design, with pistachio crème and fresh fruit with crisp crunchy carmalized pastry.

Here’s a recent menu of deserts at the hotel:
Rose ice cream, litchi compote, raspberry sorbet, two macaron biscuits
15.00 €

Pistachio ice cream, strawberry sorbet, two macaroon biscuits
15.00 €

Pure origin Madagascar dark chocolate sorbet, Nougatine with small pieces of cacao beans, fleur de sel, Pepper from Sarawak, two chocolate macaroon biscuits
15.00 €


Macaroon biscuit, rose petal cream, raspberries and litchis 16.00 €

Tender chocolate cake, rich chocolate cream,
Chocolate mousse and chocolate crisp, thin sheets of crisp chocolate
16.00 €

Shortcrust pastry, roasted peaches and crème Chiboust with caramelized cinnamon 16.00 €

Pâte sablée, white chocolate and vanilla ganache, Soft biscuit moistened with a vanilla infused clear sauce And vanilla mascarpone cream
15.00 €

Pâte sablée, tender pistachio cheesecake, Morello cherries and Morello compote, Pistachio cream with a cream-cheese base
16.00 €

Also on the Menu: (sorry…wish I had pictures of all them to show you. You’ll have to go to the restaurant to try them yourself.)

Choux pastry, chocolate crème pâtissière
15.00 €

Crunchy meringue, vanilla mousseline cream Soft biscuit with toasted almond slivers Strawberry and exotic fruit marmalade
16.00 €

Brioche dough moistened with old agricultural rum, Chantilly cream
16.00 €

Ispahan / Mosaïc / Glace envie
12.00 €

The Spa
I must say, confidentially, I am not a spa groupie nor a spa junkie. Not at all. Other than the Hammam treatment at the Royal Mansour Hotel in Marrakech (more about that in a future post) I seldom spend time in hotel spas, or any spas for that matter. Boredom sets in after about two minutes. (Make that one…). 

Le Royal Monceau has the largest swimming pool of any hotel in Paris. That I could go for.

Starck created an ethereal white retreat/spa of luxurious simplicity.

Definitely a great way to relax. 

The Bookstore
“La Librarie des Arts,” the bookstore of Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris is the first and only bookstore in a Parisian five-star hotel dedicated to not only contemporary art but also architecture and design. La Librairie des Arts has on its shelves more than 700 contemporary works, rare objects (photography books, limited editions, etc.) and meticulously chosen multiples. 

Marie de Jacquelot is the brilliant bookstore manager of Le Royal Monceau — Raffles Paris. 

Raffles Hotels & Resorts: Raffles Hotels & Resorts is an award-winning, luxury international hotel company with a history dating back to 1887 with the opening of Raffles Hotel, Singapore. The portfolio currently comprises nine luxurious properties, from secluded resorts to chic hotels in key locations around the world: in Singapore, Cambodia, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles and Paris, each one is an oasis of calm and charm. The company is embarking on a new phase of expansion, with openings in Istanbul, the Maldives, Indonesia, the Philippines and China scheduled over the next two years. Every hotel in the Raffles group has its own personality and story, and Le Royal Monceau is a one-of-a-kind.

Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris 
37, avenue Hoche 
75008 Paris
Tel 01 42 99 80 24
Images: All photographs courtesy of Raffles, and used with express permission.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dodie Rosekrans Treasures Go Under the Hammer

This week, Sotheby’s holds a sale in New York Dedicated to Furniture & Decorative Arts from The Collection of Dodie Rosekrans, including treasures from her San Francisco, Paris and Venice residences.

New York, 8 and 9 December 2011 with earlier viewings.

Yikes—the beauty! It’s one woman’s eye—superbly edited. From Codognato table décor and jewels, and a set of George II giltwood chairs selected by Michael Taylor, as well as six Russian winged neoclassical giltwood chairs, and a Jean-Michel Frank gilded plaster lamp, Queen Caroline’s coronation chair, screens galore, and as well as edgy conceptual art, and enough gilded chairs, drawings of nudes, Moroccan rugs and mother-of-pearl and japanned tables to cause palpitations in antiques connoisseurs and dilettantes alike. Oh, the beauty.

For more than sixty years, Dodie Rosekrans was a style-setter in San Francisco, and she cut a swathe through Venice and Paris. I’ve written about her several times, and these insider features (check THE STYLE SALONISTE archives) have been among my most popular.

The eyes of the design, style, antiques and collecting world will be on Sotheby’s this week as her extraordinary life-time collections of art, furniture, decorative arts, sculpture, jewelry and exquisite objects are first displayed and then sold at auction. 

Dodie Rosekrans, the late, great style doyenne died earlier this year at 93.

Dodie was honored as an Officier of the Legion d’Honneur for her generous contributions to the Centre Pompidou and other Paris museums.

This is the last formal portrait taken of Dodie, standing at the front door of her San Francisco house in late 2010. Los Angeles photographer Lisa Romerein and I were shooting a feature on Dodie and her house for C magazine. We had shot the interiors of the house (images shown here) and were preparing to depart. We hoped to take a portrait of Dodie, but left this discreetly until the end. She came with use to the door, and Lisa asked her quietly if she would stand at the door. She captured the moment. Perhaps I project my own wistfulness onto her. She was a woman who loved life, loved people. She was shy but always attentive. Adieu, Dodie. 

Dodie, who grew up in San Francisco, was encouraged by her second husband John Rosekrans to acquire dazzling Paris couture gowns, dramatic jewelry, worldly antiques, and contemporary paintings and sculpture. They commissioned the San Francisco interior designer Michael Taylor to design their residence in Pacific Heights. I called it ‘the most beautiful house in San Francisco”. It has since been sold to a couple that lived just a few doors to the west of Dodie's, and they are said to have hired the great Peter Marino to design their new residence. 

Dodie, whose life revolved around art, museums, and encouraging young artists, was known internationally for her charitable work, and her fashion, often Gaultier/Yamamoto-inflected. It was Dodie, always sympathetic to emerging talents, who financed John Galliano’s first private and tentative fashion shows in Paris.

The auction will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 3 December, and follows the May 2011 sale of Modern and Contemporary art from Dodie's collection – highlighted by works from Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. 

Dodie Rosekrans was known internationally both for her sense of adventure and unfailingly generous spirit.

Dodie spoke to me vividly about working with Michael Taylor in the seventies—and it is a tribute to her consistent style and Michael Taylor’s incisive approach to design that her interiors did not change over four decades. His paled-down color palette was carried through into every corner of the Broadway house. His taste for low-key and classic antiques, and pieces with signs of time and age, is evident in all pieces in the sale. There's no glitz or flash (that came later thanks to Duquette's exuberance).

Dodie later worked with Tony Duquette, and his Technicolor interiors in Paris and in Venice (key pieces in the sale) are the antithesis of Taylor’s love of restraint. 

Michael Taylor’s eye and his influence and his strongly expressed opinions live on in the stone topped tables, the African sculptures, the stone urns, Chinese stone sculptures, and the staggeringly beautiful chairs he found and reproduced for her.

“Dodie was simply blessed with a great eye,” commented Charles Moffett, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman. “Her eclectic tastes and interests were not bounded by strictures, regulations, or other people’s values. She could always discern what was special, lively, and lovely, often in the most idiosyncratic ways. Whether collecting couture, Old Master, Modern or Contemporary paintings, decorative arts, or jewelry, the common threads were freshness, character, and, above all, quality.” 

Property from the Collection of Dodie Rosekrans – 8 & 9 December 2011. The furniture and decorations on offer this December come from Mrs. Rosekrans’s residence in San Francisco – designed by Michael Taylor – as well as her ‘Indian Jewel Box’ apartment in Paris and her palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice – both designed by Tony Duquette.
The works cover a wide range of geographies and styles, from Asian, American Indian and Pre-Columbian art to Italian, French and English furniture and 20th Century Design, reflecting Dodie’s constant curiosity about the world.

She acquired only objects she truly loved, but her mind could encompass Indian and Chinese pottery, Roman glass, Tom Sachs, Greek antiquities, fabulous Attilio Codognato place-card holders and witty costume jewelry.

Sotheby’s sent me the following details of sale items: 

Furniture in the sale will feature pieces by French designer Claude Lalanne: both a Pair of “Crocodile” Armchairs from 1994 (pictured top, est. $275/350,000*) and a “Crocodile Stool” circa 1994 (est. $100/150,000) are highly sought-after forms within the oeuvre of the Lalannes. Eighteenth-century designs from across Europe will be led by a Louis XV Ormolu-Mounted Chinese Lacquer and Ebonized Bureau Plat, circa 1750 (est. $250/350,000), a Genovese Baroque Parcel-Gilt, Black and Gilt Japanned and Polychrome-Decorated Bureau Cabinet, circa 1735 (est. $120/180,000), and Queen Caroline’s Coronation Chair.

A Highly-Important George II Giltwood Armchair Attributed to Richard Robert, the Upholstery Attributed to Thomas Phill, circa 1727 (est. $250/350,000). Queen Caroline was King George II’s consort, and her coronation chair became part of the collection at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, where it remained until being sold in 1994. 

Additional works demonstrating Mrs. Rosekrans’s eclectic and global tastes include a Marble Cuirassed Torso of an Emperor, Roman Imperial, Flavian Period, 3rd Quarter of the 1st Century A.D. (pictured right, est. $150/250,000). A relief decoration on the lower part of the armor shows the tropaion, or trophy, a memorial which a Roman army would erect on a battlefield on the very spot where the enemy had turned to flee. A large group of highly decorative Chinese works of art – featuring lacquered furniture and screens, Han Dynasty pottery, Chinese export porcelain and jade and other hardstone carvings – will be led by a Large Brown Ground and Gilt-Decorated Lacquer Cabinet (Gui) from the 17th/18th century (est. $100/150,000). And an Urhobo Male Ancestor Statue of the Founder-Hero Owedjebo, standing more than six feet tall, is one of the most monumental examples of the edjo re akare (“spirits in carved form”) that commemorate semi-mythic village-founding warrior heroes of the Urhobo, who inhabit the western edge of the Niger Delta region in southern Nigeria (est. $100/150,000) .

Credits: Most interiors photography by Lisa Romerein. Portrait of Dodie Rosekrans at the door of her residence by Lisa Romerein.

Images of sale items and final interiors images courtesy of Sotheby’s.