Hervé Pierre, the creative director of Carolina Herrera, is a thoroughly modern man with an utterly romantic eighteenth-century sensibility. He left the Loire Valley of his youth to become the head of haute couture at Pierre Balmain in Paris (at the age of 24). But he’s lived here for the past fifteen years—where he’s found some ingenious ways to combat homesickness, stocking his refrigerator with Côte d’Or chocolate and his foyer with a noblewoman’s 1780 sedan chair. His is perhaps the only condo on lower Fifth Avenue to have been transformed into a veritable cabinet of curiosities. “I am in New York during business hours,” Pierre explains, “but at home I need to be in Paris.”
Hervé Pierre on his apartment’s influences:
The good thing about the eighteenth century is that it can be mixed with any other style. It’s like navy blue in fashion—it goes with everything. Look at the unbelievable success of the ‘Ghost’ chair by Philippe Starck. It’s exactly the shape of a classic Louis XVI chair, made in Plexiglas.
I was raised in an eighteenth-century house in the Loire Valley, where we have thousands of little palaces that the aristocrats used as ‘country houses.’ I spent my childhood visiting them every weekend. My mother was a very chic woman, and my father was a chef.
When I was 6, I could already tell the difference between a Louis XV chair and a Louis XVI.
A friend of my mother was a relative of the De la Rochefoucaulds—she was broke and opened a little antique store to sell all of her furniture. She had a pair of stools that belonged to the Petit Trianon. It was fascinating to listen to her. She had this very characteristic voice you only find in blue-blooded people. Her great-grandmother was the godmother of Imperatrice Eugénie.
I was maybe 5 when I went to Versailles for the first time, and I wanted to move in immediately.
They just restored the third floor of the Petit Trianon, and it’s so beautiful and inspiring—so tiny! The revolutionaries must have been disappointed when they saw this. They expected gold everywhere.
I go to Versailles at least three times a year—alone with my iPod. The Water Music by Handel is the best to walk to there. Don’t visit Versailles with people! And enjoy every bit of it!