Art Design Luxury

Mellerio Paris Platinum Handbag + Fingernails

Les Nouveaux Jeunes

Sometimes you just gotta have matching fingernails and accessories. “Mellerio jewellery is bespoke. We make whatever you want,” says Director of Communications Diane-Sophie Lanselle with suave understatement. “We’ve made jewellery for all the grand aristocratic families.” This vintage platinum set dates from the 1960s and is on display in the lower ground floor showroom. The House of Mellerio at 9 Rue de la Paix is an hôtel particulier of artistry and luxury: two floors of showrooms, a design studio, a workshop and offices. Best of all are the hidden archives. Deep in the darkness beneath the City of Light, priceless records of designs and clients are kept in temperature gauged perfection.

Architecture Country Houses

St Ernan’s House + Island Donegal

A Singular Existence

Lack | Kesh | Toome. The nomenclature of the villages en route to St Ernan’s Island resonates with monosyllabic North West Ulster brusqueness. Pettigo may sound more reticent but it’s full of robust no nonsense Georgian buildings backing onto the Termon River. Just before entering the jollity of Donegal Town and Magee “Specialists in Donegal Tweed” who are, for those who know best, also Specialists in lunch at the Weaver’s Loft Café, turn left, veer right, get lost, turn left again, go round the bend (physically not metaphorically), and straight ahead is the destination that inspired a murder mystery. A pink house bathed in lilac Donegal light immortalised in Paul Charles’ colourful thriller St Ernan’s Blues.

Professor Alistair Rowan, North West Ulster: “This was the island retreat of John Hamilton of Brown Hall (1800 to 1884) the author of ‘Sixty Years Experience as an Irish Landlord’. Mr Hamilton took a romantic fancy to the island, laid out a pretty garden on it, with a wall round the shore, and built a two storey Regency style cottage there between 1824 and 1826. It is five windows long with a continuous verandah running the length of its front across canted bays at either end.

The setting is indeed glorious, but the romantic whim of a young and newly married proprietor proved inconvenient. For most of each day the island was cut off either by the tide or, worse, by impassable shallows of mud. The construction of a causeway, despaired of by professional engineers, was achieved by Hamilton with free labour from the surrounding country.”

Architecture Art Design Fashion Hotels Luxury People

Rare Le Secret Champagne + Expérience Paris

A Revolutionary Idea

Possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France. Rare Champagne, the multiple award winning Champagne, and Mellerio, the oldest jewellery dynasty in the world (founded in the 16th century), have combined their exceptional talents, refined excellence and muse affinity to create a truly prestigious treasure. Rare Le Secret High Jewellery is an exclusive cuvée from the Champagne House of Rare in a bottle decorated by French jewellers Mellerio. Customers are invited to have the decoration of the bottle transformed into a bespoke piece of jewellery by Creative Director Laure-Isabelle Mellerio once its contents have been consumed.

A bottle of Rare Le Secret High Jewellery decorated with a diamond is priced $170,000 or with a ruby, emerald or sapphire, $150,000. Out of 10 bottles worldwide, there are now just three available in Harrods London, one in Takashimaya Tokyo, one in Galleries Lafayette Haussmann Paris and one in the US through the Rare Champagne Ambassador Jonathan Boulangeat and Kyle Kaplan. American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson reckoned, “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” Even better, a walk about Paris en route to the studio of Mellerio will provide a lesson in luxury.

The story began in 1997 when Régis Camus, Rare Champagne Chef de Cave, had an epiphanic moment. He realized there was something special in the sparkling wines of that year and rather than declaring a vintage, he blended a small quantity of this cuvée behind closed doors, secretly ageing it in magnums. Now, 21 years later, the results are extraordinary. Régis’ personal creation has a rare depth and rich complexity, hitting lively citrus highlights while delivering tranquil notes.

This sophisticated finesse, a zenith of Champagne production, launched the collaboration between tastemakers Rare Champagne and Mellerio. “Marie-Antoinette is a natural link between our maisons,” explains Laure-Isabelle. Their shared royal patronage dates from 1780 when the Queen of France acquired a Mellerio bracelet formed of seven Ancient Roman cameos enriched with garnets. The bracelet is now on display in Mellerio’s showroom. She smiles: “Mellerio brought glamour to the Court!” Records show all the Queens of 19th century Europe bought the House’s jewellery. Ever the sybarite, Her Majesty would enjoy her first taste of Rare Champagne a few years later.

Laure-Isabelle suggests, “The refined world of Rare Champagne instantly guided my hand.” Her design for Rare Le Secret High Jewellery takes inspiration from Marie Antoinette’s extravagantly silhouetted dresses. It features a single precious jewel of at least one carat embedded in a heart of interwoven gold bands set with 510 diamonds. The gold and platinum threads swirling down the bottle, reminiscent of the flow and structure of haute couture, represent the blend of Chardonnay minerality and Pinot Noir intensity. The 24 carat solid gold muselet cap is a first, even for Champagne! The enigmatic matt black presentation box with its silver mirrored interior resembles the cases of jewellery presented to Marie Antoinette. Indeed, it resembles a Versailles salon in miniature.

A second design has also been created. The classic simplicity of a gold cartouche is reflected in the golden mirrored interior of its majestic case. Inside each bottle is the same blend of Rare Champagne. The Rare Le Secret Goldsmith is a limited edition of 1,000 numbered and engraved magnums. It is priced at $2,000. In New York, this edition is available in Baccarat, Sherry Lehmann and Sotheby’s. Harrods London also stocks Rare Le Secret Goldsmith.

Rare Le Secret is perfect to enjoy right away,” explains Régis, “and will still be at optimum quality until 2021.” It goes well with scallop carpaccio, hot oysters, and truffle risotto. Nose, palate and view are three ways to describe bubbly. So what’s the verdict from the House of Rare? Nose: subtle salty and mineral notes with aromas of liquorice, candied tropical fruit and bergamot are followed by dried fruit and powdery floral notes. Palate: after a lively attack of Menton lemon and citrus fruits, nuances of fresh apricot, vetiver and verbena express a serene minerality. Hints of acacia honey and incense develop an oriental and smoky vinosity and ethereal finish. View: dazzling. Graceful bubbles rise in beautiful ribbons and produce a delicate sparkle.

Régis calls it “the secret within Le Secret”. That is, the transformation of something precious to drink into something precious to wear. A private visit to Maison Mellerio will allow Laure-Isabelle to turn Rare Le Secret High Jewellery’s bottle adornment into a brooch, bracelet or pendent. It’s the ultimate multisensory journey from cellar to atelier. The House of Mellerio is on Rue de la Paix, the most prestigious shopping area in the city’s Second Arrondissement. It’s between the First Arrondissement (Tuileries) and the Ninth (Lafayette). “Mellerio has been at this address for almost two centuries now. We were the first luxury goods company to open on Rue de la Paix. Cartier arrived relatively recently in 1898!” relates Mellerio’s Director of Communications Diane-Sophie Lanselle. Five star glitz of The Ritz, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme and Le Meurice is mere seconds away along this stretch of the River Seine.

Galignani, the first English bookshop to be established on the European Continent, is nearby. “It’s the Hatchards of Paris,” says Directrice Générale Danielle Cillien Sabtier referring to London’s finest bookshop. “The concept is a space for encounters and cultural exchanges.” The bookshop is on Rue de Rivoli set behind an arched stone colonnade. So Haussmann, so Parisian. In the 19th century, William Thackeray was a regular customer. Last century, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed its reading room. This century, Karl Lagerfeld is a fan. Mr Thackeray called Galignani, “The exile’s best friend.” Is it Rare Champagne-o’clock again? To repeat, possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France.

Architecture Luxury People

Lavender’s Blue + Paris

We’ll Always Have Parees

Rue de Castiglione Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Riding though Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in our hair.

Country Houses Fashion

Lavender’s Blue + Fine Bone China

A Reaching for the Gothic

Morning coffee | afternoon tea. Some things taste better wearing haute couture in a country house.