All that coming and going between Paris and New York’s Chinatown, where he’s putting up the wallpaper this weekend at André Saraiva’s hotly anticipated Le Baron, has plunged decor svengali Vincent Darré into chinoiserie. Darré’s Christmas party last night at his shop in Paris was the chance for a sneak peek at his designs for the new Le Baron and to introduce Maison Darré’s illuminated silver masks by his friend Grazia Eminente. “I’ve been entranced by Grazia forever,” says Darré. I remember the first time I saw her when she swept in like Silvana Mangano at Davé [Paris’s chic Chinese canteen]. That was long before we became friends. She was one of the three women, along with Loulou de la Falaise and Andrée Putman, who I really wanted to know.”
A mischievous theatrical streak runs through the work of Eminente, who was married for many years to Spanish painter and set designer Eduardo Arroyo and now divides her time between Cadaqués and Paris. Her mask lights for Maison Darré, which include a bride, Mickey Mouse, Nosferatu, a Metropolis robot, and an Archimboldo, are all based on silver wire mesh fencer’s shields, which she has covered with amusing bits and pieces collected on her travels: little mirrors she found in Bali long ago; shells from Alexandria; bits of jade and coral from her personal jewelry which she likes to take apart, or the small bull’s horns painted in stripes which she has placed like tusks on her Samurai mask.
Darré transformed his shop for the evening into a mock-up of Le Baron Chinatown, complete with his red-and-black ombré Chinoise wallpaper featuring exotic dancers gyrating in kaleidoscopic patterns, and gorgeous showgirls’ gams doing synchronated high kicks on plush carpeting. “I want the club to look like a place where Scarface, a.k.a. Al Capone, would have gone, but as though it hasn’t been open since the 1970s,” says Darré. “There are gigantic Oriental lanterns and an erotic screen I had made in Vietnam, featuring ladies cavorting with sea creatures.” For a deeper plunge into Darré’s surreal world, don’t miss the latest edition of L’Officiel Hommes, where Creative Director André Saraiva has devoted a 20-page fashion spread to “Les Enfants Terribles,” featuring Vincent and all his collaborators in the manner of Jean Cocteau shot by Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello.