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PARIS — Heart motifs are ubiquitous — from the antique bathroom mirrors to the wallpaper in the elevator — but this is no heartbreak hotel.
Instead, the 17-room inn decorated by Christian Lacroix opening here this week oozes the couturier’s colorful joie de vivre, from the eye-popping bathroom tiles and acid green walls to the Scandinavian chairs circa 1970 upholstered in samurai prints.
“I would like the people coming here to feel like they’re from the area, belonging to the Marais,” Lacroix mused Wednesday as he looked out the window onto the boutique-crammed Rue du Poitou and a gallery-studded neighborhood becoming hipper by the second. “It is not a couture hotel. It is not a design hotel. It’s more about translating the mood of the area.”
Still, Lacroix’s bold and eclectic sensibility vibrates from practically every nook and cranny. Even in room 301, which ranks as one of the more sober suites, a shooting star streaks toward a glowing moon in a whimsical mural above the bed. An eagle-eyed fashion fanatic might recognize the lunar objects as original Lacroix jewelry pieces for a couture show of yore.
Indeed, there are many references — subtle and unmistakable — to fashion, from an old pedal-style sewing machine doubling as a writing desk to floor-to-ceiling fashion illustrations from a recent runway collection.
But there are plenty of modern and graphic touches, too, including flat-screen TVs, minimalist light fixtures and tulip chairs by Eero Saarinen.
Lacroix said he took into consideration the dimensions of each room — and even what appears outside the window — when decorating the compact suites. The result: styles that span rustic to Space Age to baroque.
“I wanted something between a traditional, modern hotel chain and little touch of a personal apartment,” he explained.
The four-star Hotel du Petit-Moulin is owned and operated by two French entrepreneurs, who have signed on Lacroix for three more Paris locations. The designer said each hotel would reflect the character of its Parisian environs, with Saint-Germain being the next possible neighborhood.
To construct the hotel in a location that was formerly a bakery, the owners were obliged to maintain its historic facade, keeping the marble counter as the reception desk. Adjacent to the lobby is a small bar where guests can enjoy a continental breakfast. Rooms range from 180 euros to 350 euros, or $243 to $472.50 at current exchange.
This story first appeared in the January 6, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Designing hotels is the latest on an ever-growing list of extracurricular activities for Lacroix, 54, who this year lifts the veil on a new high-speed train, uniforms for Air France flight attendants and costumes for an opera in Brussels — all in addition to his collections for his namesake label and Italy’s Emilio Pucci, also owned by Lacroix parent LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Lacroix also disclosed that the French movie theater operator Gaumont has just asked him to design its new multiplexes, with the first location slated to open soon either at Euro Disney or in Amiens, both just outside of Paris.
“I feel that what I do is design. Why not a bottle? Why not stage costumes?” he asked. And for that matter — look out Tom Ford — why not filmmaking?
“I’m very attracted by directing,” Lacroix said. “One day a movie, why not?”
In fact, Lacroix said he sees no reason for barriers between fashion and other design realms. “I don’t like the world as it is. It can be vulgar,” he said. “My own weapon against this ugly world is to redesign it.”