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20 March 2009

Le Style Safra


So Empress Bianca is now on her fourth husband and they have just moved to New York where she is determined to climb her way to the loftiest heights of high society. Her first step is to acquire a twenty-four room duplex on Fifth Avenue in one of the best buildings. She then picks up one of the sharpest weapons in her arsenal , decorator Valerian Rybar, with whom she forms "one of the most compelling relationships of her life." Besides providing Bianca with a suitably opulent backdrop from which to realize her social ambitions, Valerian gives her the skinny on everyone worth knowing and all the things they did to become so.

Naturally, my curiosity was aroused as to who was the Valerian Rybar to Lily Safra, the alleged real-life Bianca. The answer is Howard Slatkin about whom I know very little, except that he is very exclusive, very discreet, and has impeccable taste (and that his brother Harry has a scented candle line).

Below are several rooms he did for the Safras in various residences - all photographed by Fitz von der Schulenberg for the Sotheby's 2005 sales catalogue of the property of Lily and her late husband Edmond J. Safra.




This room looks as if one were meant to just pass through. It seems a bit cold, but the pair of side tables were too fantastic to not show you.








I initially found the dining room wall color a surprising choice, but by candlelight it probably glows. Billy Baldwin loved brown walls for entertaining as they are warm and flattering.






Although it is all undoubtedly exquisite, I prefer more color and a little less perfection - what do you think?

16 comments:

Mrs. Blandings said...

There are so many beautiful pieces it's hard not to have some appreciation for these rooms. This level of formality has never really appealed to me as it always feels a bit souless.

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Patricia, I think you hit it - souless is the word.... (which would definitely apply to Empress Bianca).

Rose C'est La Vie said...

To me it suggests the interior of a London gentleman's club (particularly The Athenaeum) meets Buckingham Palace. Neither of these locations, I am sorry to say, are overburdened with 'soul'.

Toby Worthington said...

In the third photo from the top, those curious painted tables~were they not designed by Jansen? Or copies of same?

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Golly, Mr. Worthington, they sure do look like Jansen, don't they? Apparently Mrs. Safra had the good sense to keep them as they weren't offered for sale in 2005.

Anonymous said...

I've followed this designer over the years and you're right, he hasn't been published much. The last apartment I clipped showed him in what almost looked like pajamas as he was guiding the house tour. He does work very exclusively and he basically does full-on historic interiors. The neoclassical work I've collected is truly stunning though and not so over-the-top as the Safra apt. This apt. feels like a historic house - devoid of inhabitants!

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Anonymous, how funny to think of the man creating these formal, immaculate rooms entertaining in host pajamas (or close to)... Hopefully, he'll come out of the shadows again soon so we can see more of his excellent work.

Jose said...

Did I adore to see the pictures of the Safra's house in London and do I ask for you if in the catalogue of sothebys have more pictures of interiors in London or other cities of their houses?Thank you very much.

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Jose, Yes, there are a few more interiors of the Safra residences that I did not include - unfortunately the catalogue does not tell you which residence is featured in each photo.

Jose said...

Dear Emily, thanks for your kind attention. I've appreciated a lot your comments about Safra's residenses.Even without identification it would be great to see how all these interiors were decorated. Thank you.Best regards.

Sacheverelle said...

Did you see the article in the New Yorker on Howard Slatkin's apartment renovation?
Bee-oo-tiful.
http://nymag.com/homedesign/fall2009/59890/

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Sacheverelle - wow-ee-wow wow!!! No, I hadn't seen it before - many thanks for the link!

JT said...

Ironicly, Mr Safra was killed by one of those Slatkin scented candles. A male nurse, wanting to save the billionaire's life in a staged heroic scheme, set the Monte Carlo penthouse on fire using the designer candle according to news sources.

Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

JT, death by designer candle???? NO!!! how did that detail evade me?

Anonymous said...

You would enjoy reading Dominick Dunne's article "Death in Monaco" at www.vanityfair.com. It mentions that there was a re-enactment held by the court and that a Slatkin candle was used to start the fire that led to Edmond Safra's death. Not that Mr Slatkin was responsible, it is just an interesting and ironic side note.

Duke of Loulé said...

Please see the grandeur of Lily Safra, believe that she would like a modern apartment? No.

Of course, the pictures are unique, we are talking about Lily Gold as talk in Europe