PARIS ­— Interior designer Jacques Garcia took on the new five-star Fouquet’s Barrière hotel on the Champs-Elysées as both a tribute and a challenge.

Probably best known for his collaborations with the Costes brothers on restaurants and a signature hotel, Garcia had a strong rapport with the Lucien Barrière Group and its sole heiress, Dianne Desseigne, who died in 2001. “It was Dianne who talked me into decorating hotels,” says Garcia. “This hotel is a tribute to her beauty and sensuality.”

The designer says the challenge of the project was to concoct a personality for the property. “It was empty, virgin. To be able to give a soul to a place that does not have any history is the strength in my work,” Garcia says.

The result is an impression of grandeur with a contemporary flair. The hotel, which opened last month and is located above the legendary Fouquet’s restaurant and across from the world’s largest Louis Vuitton store, boasts 107 rooms, including 42 suites; a restaurant; a bar, and a 6,500-square-foot spa.

Garcia’s sumptuous interior features an entrance with a marble stairway, walls covered with brown leather and gold leaf and a striking reception desk with bands of transparent crystal. Among the grand appointments are throne-like Louis XV banquettes that are 30 feet long and almost 7 feet high.

The spacious rooms, for their part, are a touch more spare — dressed in elegant beige and gold tones with furniture reminiscent of the Thirties and Fifties. Most rooms look out on an inside planted garden where thousands of silver branches have been installed on one of the walls to give the illusion of a forest.

After the Lucien Barrière group purchased the Fouquet’s restaurant in 1999, it acquired four adjoining buildings with the aim of constructing a luxurious hotel aimed at a wealthy and trendy international clientele.

To that end, the French architect Edouard François, best known for the Asnières Flower Tower, took the Haussmanian facade on the Champs-Elysées as a model for the other buildings, injecting a good dose of modernism into the rear facade, with its slate gray wall and large rectangular windows. Inside, François ingeniously incorporated service passageways throughout the buildings to facilitate the work of some 350 employees.

This story first appeared in the December 4, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Fouquet’s Barrière hotel, 46 Avenue George V, Paris; +33-1-4069-6000. Standard rooms start at 690 euros, or $877, and run up to 15,000 euros, or $19,000, for the 5,700-square-foot presidential suite.

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