Mark Keshishian and Sons
Hubert de Givenchy’s Surprisingly Cozy Mansion
How the French fashion legend married opulence and intimacy in his Paris salon—and how you can get the look
HARMONIC CONVERGENCE The dusky tones and flashes of gold that recur throughout fashion designer Hubert De Givenchy’s Green Salon in Paris keep the room’s décor from looking too haphazard and busy. PHOTO:FRANCIS HAMMOND
Updated Nov. 9, 2016 12:53 p.m. ET
LONG BEFORE New York interior designer Alexa Hampton was traveling the world for clients—or, for that matter, taking her first steps—she was being molded by a master of the trade. Her father was Mark Hampton, named one of “The World’s Twenty Greatest Designers of All Time” by Architectural Digest. He was also a personal favorite of Presidents Bush, Sr., and Clinton, for whom he decorated rooms in the White House—an impressive and quaintly bipartisan résumé. At 13, Ms. Hampton started summer interning for her dad.
BIO IN BRIEF: ALEXA HAMPTON
· Her résumé: Fans of PBS’s Emmy-winning “This Old House” might recognize Ms. Hampton as the only female cast member in the show’s history. Off-screen she’s created an ever-expanding portfolio of interiors for clients. In addition, she is a member of the boards of trustees for the New York School of Interior Design, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Institute for Classical Architecture & Art. Regularly included on Architectural Digest’s AD100 list, she’s also earned (among other distinctions) the swagger of Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Female Award.
· Her clients: Ms. Hampton’s customers seek her out for her ability to combine taste, knowledge and a lack of pretension. Some recent projects have taken her to New Orleans, China, Denver, and Miami (she’s racked up 253,000 frequent-flier miles this past year alone) and she’s designed everything from apartments to country houses to private airplanes.
· Her style: Comfortable elegance with a neoclassical bent. Rooms in which Mr. de Givenchy’s friend and muse Audrey Hepburn would have felt very much at home.
In her 20s, she came across a Christie’s catalog of items from the hôtel particulier (don’t try to book a room; that’s French for “mansion”) of fashion legend Hubert de Givenchy. “I became obsessed with his interiors. They were luxurious and enormous but cozy,” she said.
Ms. Hampton, who took over her father’s eponymous company when he died in 1998, sits on the Board of Trustees for the New York Landmarks Conservancy and for the New York School of Interior Design, which celebrated its 100th anniversary by asking designers to Instagram photos of rooms that have influenced them most. Ms. Hampton chose the “Green Salon,” in Mr. de Givenchy’s former home in Paris, still one of her favorites.
The room in the Hôtel d’Orrouer, named
after the Marquis for whom it was built in 1731, teems with
artifacts from 17th- and 18th-century France, including Louis XIV
andirons, sconces, a table and a gold-framed mirror that evokes that
monarch’s narcissistic hall at Versailles. The salon’s Louis XVI
chairs, side tables and busts are thought to reflect the more
elegant taste of that king’s fashion-forward wife, Marie Antoinette.
The décor mixes rococo and neoclassical styles while
adhering to standards of symmetry and harmony that keep the entire affair looking neat and purposeful.
But ultimately, said Ms. Hampton, it’s Mr. de Givenchy’s ability to combine grandeur with intimacy that makes the room special—the balance of structure and comfort, past and the present, book smarts and the invitation to curl up with a good book.