Putting Off The Ritz
Style.com contributing editor and party reporter Darrell Hartman circles the city and, occasionally, the globe in the line of duty. In a new column, he reports on the topics—whatever they may be at whatever given moment—that are stirring the social set.
As usual at the most recent Paris Couture collections, there were openings—including a big one for Louis Vuitton’s haute joaillerie store on Place Vendôme. But this time around, there was a major closing, too. As just about everyone knows by now, the Ritz is shutting its doors at the end of July. Not forever, just for two years and change. Of course, to a lot of fashion people, that is forever.
“Everybody’s talking about it,” Claire Courtins-Clarins told me at the Louis Vuitton party. We were, incidentally, at the Ritz; Vuitton had booked the hotel’s pool room for one last go-round. The Atelier Versace show had happened there two nights before—poignantly, considering it was Gianni Versace’s old venue. (That’s Gianni, below, with the usual clatch of supermodels backstage at the Ritz during one of his Couture shows.) Immediately after Donatella’s runway came down, a VIP section went up, for an after-party with a performance by M.I.A.
If the hotel owes its place in the fashion annals to anyone, however, it’s Coco Chanel. The designer lived there from 1934 until 1971, albeit on the less glamorous Rue Cambon side. “Poor Chanel, I use the front door of the Ritz, she must use the back,” Elsa Schiaparelli liked to snipe.
People no longer name-drop the Ritz that confidently. It doesn’t dominate the social scene quite the way it used to, and if it’s true, as someone told me at that Vuitton party, that mice are turning up in guest rooms, then it’s certainly time the place got a refresh.
Still, plenty of fashionistas stay at the Ritz, and they’ll have to find a new home in Paris. What to do? The Crillon is also shuttering for a revamp, and the Bristol may have lost some cachet now that it’s no longer Sarkozy’s lunch joint. Daphne Guinness has reportedly solved the problem by buying an apartment.
Sofia Coppola went that route a while ago. “I remember staying here when I was younger, and it was always exciting with the gold swan faucets and the satin bed covers and stuff, but now I have an apartment [in Paris] and I love to come have lunch or have a drink here,” she told me. So did Danielle Steel. As a result, her daughters, the Traina sisters, don’t spend nearly as much time at the Ritz as they did as children.
But they do use the gym. In fact, the Ritz’s health club is what the international jeunesse dorée may miss most about the place. “Best swimming pool in Paris,” Vanessa Traina declared at the Vuitton party. “I don’t know where I’ll work out now,” Victoria said.
Virginie Courtin-Clarins told me she’d already switched to the Royal Monceau (which, incidentally, has a Clarins spa). “When you want to have a luxurious gym in Paris, you go in the hotels,” she said. “There is no Equinox. There are big chains, but there’s no service.” Ritz renovators, take note.
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