THE FASHIONABLE LIFE: A COLLECTOR’S OASIS | Designer Andrew Gn creates a serene, modern sanctuary on Paris’s Right Bank.
THE FASHIONABLE LIFE: A COLLECTOR’S OASIS | Every evening, designer Andrew Gn used to retire from his grand Paul Poiret–inspired atelier in Paris’s Marais district to his equally decadent 18th-century flat on the city’s Right Bank. Brimming with gilded Louis XV furniture, antique Chinese urns, and his collection of Rococo-era portraiture, his home was a natural extension of the lush, intricate clothes he had produced since starting his namesake label in 1996. But over the years Gn began to suffer from visual overload and found himself craving a streamlined sanctuary where he could escape from the beads and tassels of his salon. “I was looking to change,” he says. “I wanted something more modern and functional, and something with green. When I found this place, with that heavenly patch of garden in the back, it was irresistible.”
THE FASHIONABLE LIFE: A COLLECTOR’S OASIS | Located just 15 blocks away from the old one, the new apartment required a year and a half of ambitious renovations to become the airy suite of sunny rooms it is today. “Oh, it was long and tedious,” Gn says cheerfully, his sentences punctuated by a rumbling, deep belly laugh. When he bought the ground-floor space in 2012, its layout—constructed in 1895—was very much in the French bourgeois style, full of shadowy antechambers and cramped corridors. “I brought down a lot of walls and created much bigger spaces, particularly the living room, dining room, and library,” he says, adding, “The previous owner was an older lady whose taste was very different from mine—not contemporary, not modern.”
THE FASHIONABLE LIFE: A COLLECTOR’S OASIS | Remaking the back garden, which overlooks a small park, was another daunting project. “It was extremely ugly before, with dingy gray stone, and the flowers were horrendous. I can’t even remember what they were,” says the designer, who replanted the crowded beds with an elegant mix of ferns, hydrangeas, and white roses. “The outdoor space is quite small, so I wanted everything to be green and white. I think white is very relaxing, and when I look out at it from my bedroom window I get the feeling that I’m on holiday.” A set of mid-20th-century French garden furniture, made of thin strips of black lacquered steel, completes the postcard-from-Paris effect. “When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is go outside and see if there are any new leaves sprouting on the ferns,” he says. “It’s my little paradise.”
THE FASHIONABLE LIFE: A COLLECTOR’S OASIS | While the new apartment functions as a visual palate cleanser, Gn hasn’t forsaken his elaborate tastes. In fact, he maintains his old flat in its original condition, replete with enormous crystal chandeliers and an army of silk florals, and has no intention of selling it. “They are on the same street, just 15 blocks away from each other,” he says of his homes. “From one to the other, it’s a five- to seven-minute walk, or 10 minutes at a stroll. I sometimes spend weekends at the old apartment or entertain there. It’s a very precious and intimate place, good for formal, sit-down candlelit dinners.” His new apartment, on the other hand, is reserved for simpler meals: “I’ve been trying to keep my food clean here, to match the ambience. I’ve even lost a little weight!”
THE FASHIONABLE LIFE: A COLLECTOR’S OASIS | For Gn, the separate living spaces reflect the breadth of his appreciation for design and his insatiable quest for variety. “Both this baroque side and this modern side always coexist in me, the classicism and the contemporary,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to say I’m Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—I believe that I can have both sides at the same time. They’re always being reflected in my work.” Gn’s fall collection, for example, features an oversize coat that at first glance resembles a rich tapestry but is actually covered in micro-sequins—a modern twist on an heirloom material. “It’s just a simple coat with a little collar, and you can throw it on over your T-shirt and jeans and go out,” he says. “Just because it’s ornate doesn’t mean it’s difficult to wear.”
The designer’s roster of gold-standard clients, which includes Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, and Emma Stone as well as Hailee Steinfeld and Rashida Jones (both of whom wore his dresses on Oscar night this year), also speaks to his broad mix of aesthetics. “Women come back to me because my clothes are very special but never costume-like,” Gn says. “They’re functional but with very refined, couture-like details.”
THE FASHIONABLE LIFE: A COLLECTOR’S OASIS | Most people buy a home and then decorate it, but Gn approached the process backward, squirreling away mid-century furniture and abstract art for years before he envisioned a place to put it. “While I was collecting my classical pieces—the 17th-, 18th-century objects for my old apartment—I was simultaneously collecting modern and contemporary pieces, and they were being stocked away in warehouses,” he explains. “I finally realized that I wanted a whole separate house for them! So I decorated in reverse, with a whole bunch of things I already owned.” He composed each room himself, starting with a color palette and proceeding to furniture, fabrics, and art. “I’m not a professional decorator, so I had absolutely no deadline,” he says. “It’s an ongoing process. I’m never saying, ‘Oh, my God, I need to finish it in six months,’ so I took the time to find all the perfect things. Some people buy an armchair just for the sake of having an armchair, but I waited until the right one came along.” Case in point: The handsome wingback chair in his library is a 19th-century find from the Drouot auction house in Paris, reupholstered in vintage leopard-print fabric. An African wood stool, made in the mid-20th century and acquired from Pierre Bergé & Associés, stands nearby.
THE FASHIONABLE LIFE: A COLLECTOR’S OASIS