Who has not stopped in surprise and envy to study these lavish window displays, a magical array of Macassar ebony, Ceylan lemon tree wood, myrtle, shagreen, Carrara marble, black granite from Syene and precious silks
The Roméo brand is above all a taste in decor, the decorative arts and crafts. At 208 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, the styles may be diverse but they are all eclectic, opulent and fantastic, with a uninhibited approach to coordination, and guided by a quest for excellence.
This legendary Parisian house, with a distinctive style drawing inspiration from many eras, offers its clientele a 3 500m2 journey through the major periods in the history of interior decoration. Amongst the myriad of rooms, one can spy a spiral staircase by Roger Tallon alongside favourite pieces from the 1970s, and walls covered from floor to ceiling with mirrored glass and stainless steel; there are surprising contrasts between Versace fabrics, Jansen woodwork and pieces of furniture that could have come straight out of the Boulle workshops; two modernist hi-fi systems in chrome, gilded metal and plexiglass provide an unexpected contrast signalling plenty more surprises in store.
Aristotle Onassis, La Callas, Alain Delon, ambassadors and Royal families from the Middle East and Africa along with wealthy industrialists from as far afield as America and China are among the international clientele who have been seduced by the richness of this cleverly orchestrated mix, where classicism and modernism enhance each other.
The sale, taking place on 9 and 10 November at Artcurial
, will be a unique opportunity to take another look at a whole range of the Decorative Arts from Faubourg Saint-Antoine with its reputation for artisanal crafts.
« Including a piece of Roméo furniture in your interior surely a bold move today ? »
Stéphane Aubert, Auctioneer, Associate Director, Artcurial
Claude Dalle, between myth and reality
Affected by various cultural influences, Claude Dalle, a discreet and enigmatic figure in the world of interior design, founded the Maison Roméo on the principles of extravagance, juxtaposition, eclecticism and French expertise.
The sense of mystery surrounding this global emperor of luxury interiors has given rise to a number of myths. His is a style resulting from the self-taught journey of a man with a passion, and an insightful curiosity that led him towards the Decorative Arts and Crafts.
Son of an Italian cabinetmaker and a Corsican mother, Claude Dalle took his first steps amongst wood shavings and the smell of heated glue, at a time when le Faubourg Saint-Antoine represented the Mecca for furniture. After working in a warehouse, he started to produce furniture designs in the 1960s before taking over the Guérin furniture house founded in 1830, whose insignia still adorns the walls.
His expertise and taste in decoration soon attracted an international clientele. Interior designer for the first Algerian ambassador in Paris, Claude Dalle went on to undertake projects around the world, from China to the United States, from palaces in Africa to the Middle East and also, we are led to believe, the Vatican. He infused this dazzling ascent with the aroma of the Arabian Nights.
This style of interior decoration entered the world of fiction when his friend, the writer Gérard de Villiers, author of the controversial SAS thrillers, had his hero Malko Linge wander through Roméo interiors in intrigue after intrigue. During the 1980s, the photographer Guy Bourdin created a series of stunning images for Vogue set in this
« annexe of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs ».
The Maison Roméo, from crafts to the Decorative Arts
Faubourg Saint-Antoine, which, from the end of Louis XIVs reign, became the heart of French artisanal crafts in Paris, saw its workshops transformed in the 1920s into interior designers and decorators, initiated by Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, the Maison Jansen
An admirer of Charles André Boulle and the Louis XIV style, Claude Dalle combined a purity of style with sophisticated pieces of furniture. Combining Boulle with Versace provides the ultimate surprise and has been greatly admired. Notable pieces offered in the sale include a three-seater royal sofa upholstered in a red velours Versace fabric with a neo-classical design (estimate 2 000 - 3 000 ), a Napoléon III period bookcase with Berain-style decoration featuring Boulle marquetry (estimate:
5 000 - 8 000 ), as well as several sets of cushions made from Atelier Versace fabric (estimate: 200 - 300 ).
Different styles are combined with the same inclusive eye, such as an exhilarating mix of classicism with typical 1970s pieces. One immediately thinks of modernist interiors so prized today created by designer Yves Saint Laurent, architect François Catroux and the extravagant interior design duo, Valerian Rybar and Jean-François Daigre. Included in the sale is a Napoleon III-style writing desk with inlaid wood and gilded brass decoration on tortoiseshell background (estimate: 2 000 - 4 000 ), a curule seat with folding arms in chromed steel (estimate: 500 - 800 ), three gilded and silver-plated chairs by Jean Charles (estimate: 200 - 300 ), a pair of orientalist busts in black patinated bronze (estimate: 800 - 1 200 ) and a rococo style candelabra in engraved and gilded bronze with aged patina (estimate: 600 - 800 ).
Like interior designer Alberto Pinto, Claude Dalle has followed in the tradition of high decoration. This is illustrated by his singularly diverse style encompassing contemporary opulence, royal grandeur and a highly modelled orientalism.
The essence of Roméo can be summed up with one word: perfection.
« Roméo has managed what great interior designers of the seventies, Daigre and Rybar, Serge Robin for Jansen, never dared to do: enable a wealthy international clientele to dream in splendour using the traditional savoir-faire of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Romantic settings where fantastic creatures could be posing in front of Guy Bourdins camera for Vogue, interiors where you imagine yourself like an SAS hero, this is what Roméo, under Claude Dalles direction, has succeeded in creating. Experimenting with Louis styles and combining them with uncompromising modernist materials, plexi-glass and steel, re-inventing Boulle marquetry with models from Gianni Versace, blurring the lines at the same time as providing a stamp of high craftsmanship and invention « à la française » . This is how Roméo established itself the world over. » --Jean-Louis Gaillemin, Art historian
The Maison Roméo, is also renowned for bespoke French creations that are stunningly original and highly contemporary. Among these creations in the sale is a Louis XIV-style chest of drawers, the Arlequin model in black and ivory diamond-patterned lacquered wood, with gilt bronze decoration (estimate: 2 500 3 000 ), a Louis XIV-style cabinet in lacquered and varnished wood with aventurine paint, ivory and light wood floral decoration (estimate: 3 000 - 5 000 ), a neoclassical-style TV cabinet with mirrored veneer and gilded wood, decorated with cornucopia and a golden metallic caduceus (estimate: 600 - 800 ), living room furniture featuring a plate with imitation marquetry in a white and blue geometric pattern, framed with two gold lines on an apple green background (estimate: 800 - 1 000 ) and a pair of wide Art Deco style armchairs in moulded and gilded wood, set on curved legs, with a back in the form of a radiating fan, trimmed with mother-of-pearl velvet (estimate:
1 000 - 1 200 ).
This opulent style and emphasis on craftsmanship is not only evident in the choice of the finest materials and fabrics but also in the highly prestigious and original collaborations undertaken by Roméo. In designing and producing collections of trimmings and furnishing fabrics, the Maison Roméo has always worked with the best fabric manufacturers and houses such as Tassinari & Chatel Lelievre Paris, Pierre Frey, Missoni, Houles and Versace. This sale will also provide a chance to acquire curtains, fabrics, trimmings and rugs. Amongst these items is a wool and silk rug by Maison Sabet Persepolis, featuring a leafy jungle motif in khaki tones with panther (estimate : 400 - 500 ), a set of nine black velvet cushions decorated with rings of silver sequins (estimate : 300 - 400 ), two Sheherazade-inspired circular poufs, upholstered in fabric with gold and silver threads (estimate : 600 - 800 ) and also a piece of living room furniture in Louis XVI style in blue silk fabric, yellow stripes and stylised floral patterns (estimate : 800 - 1 200 ).
For glass and tableware, Roméo has worked primarily with Daum, Lalique and Versace. Included in the sale will be a Renaissance-inspired service by Versace, the Barocco model (estimate : 400 - 600 ), a large blue Daum France vase, from the Rythmes Collection in pressed, moulded pate-de-verre, (estimate : 2 000 - 3 000 ), and a set of crystal glasses by Sophie Villepigue with silver bases decorated with a double row of Swarovski crystals (estimate 200 - 400 ).