• ethan

Like a Phoenix Rising from its Ashes- Les Bains, Paris

Les Bains's facade

Paris, France - A certain sense of drama is called for with regards the title of this entry if you knew the history of Les Bains in Paris’s hipster third arrondisement. If you didn’t know about Les Bains, let Bespokcracy take you down memory lane. Also be prepared for a whole load of name-dropping.

Les Bains came into existence, as its name suggests, as a public spa or bathhouse, for the illuminati at the height of the fin-de-siècle era, which came to embody decadence and cynicism but also hope and a sense of beginning going into the 20th century. If having clients like Proust and the then-starchitect Eugène Ewald were anything to go by, one would expect great things from this place. And boy did Les Bains Douches (its former name) live up to its name. In our generation’s fin de siècle, which seemed to embody the same principles as the last one, it was Paris’s answer to Studio 54 in Manhattan with no less glamour and debauchery. David Guetta got his break by DJ-ing here in the late 70s (and got his wife here too incidentally) and a bright-eyed, relatively-unknown Phillipe Starck was in charge of the interiors. At the acme of its popularity and fame saw Catherine Deneuve rubbing shoulders with Karl Lagerfeld who can be seen exchanging passive fumes with Linda Evangelista who can be seen side-glancing Warhol with his protégés Basquiat and Haring in tow- you get the point. We did warn you about the name-dropping.

Then it dropped off the socialite radar for awhile until filmmaker and the son of the former owner, Jean-Pierre Marois, bought it and painstakingly took 4 years to restore this landmark to its former glitzy self with the help of Tristan Auer who’s behind the restoration of Hotel de Crillion. It is now a 39-room hotel complete with a restaurant called La Salle-à-Manger (imaginative!) which is drenched in all hues of red, which is backed by the three-Michelin star chef Philippe Labbé of Shangri-La’s L’Abeille fame. And of course the pièce-de-resistance that is the club is retained and updated in the basement of the building, albeit reduced slightly in size.

Les Bains's lobby

More importantly, Monsieur Marois aims to engage people from all walks of life for all sorts of arts activities to be held at this property. To achieve this, he has assembled a team of “curators” to help with the task, including the local gallerist Jérôme Pauchant to organize art residencies and the music director Lars Krueger to advise on playlists and D.J.s. Even the retail side is covered by bringing on board Thomas Erber, known for his roving Cabinet de Curiosités, who has tapped French labels big and small to create one-off items like a Thierry Mugler dinner dress and a white collared shirt by Pierre Mahéo of Officine Generale. These will be sold in a classy gallery-like space across the street called La Boutique des Bains. With so much on offer, we suspect that its 80s bouncer, Marie-Line’s infamous quip back in its heyday of “Sorry, tonight’s not going to be possible,” will likely never apply to this icon, which is painfully chic yet oh-so-ready to engage with its community- everything that Bespokcracy stands for.

La Salle-à-Manger

Les Bains Paris

7 Rue du Bourg-l'Abbé | +33 1 42 77 07 07 | website | fr 480€ for a Classic Room

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