The Maison Champs Elysées has a rich past, being located in a town house from the Haussmann period, the Maison des Centraliens (a meeting place for students of the Ecole Centrale). In the great tradition of luxury hotels, it has been redecorated by fashion designer Martin Margiela to create a haven of peace in the centre of Paris's Golden Triangle between the Champs-Elysées, Avenue Montaigne, the Grand Palais and the Place de la Concorde.
The original building on the Rue Jean Goujon was conceived as a private house. In 1864, the Duchess of Rivoli, Princess of Essling, the Grand Mistress of the Empress Eugénie's household, had her town house built at number eight 8. Designed by the French architect Jules Pellechet in the Haussmann style, it was completed in 1866.
After the death of the Duchess of Rivoli on 28 January 1887, the hotel became the property of the youngest of her two sons, Victor Masséna, the Duke of Rivoli, who was a member of parliament. The house was sold to the family of her Royal Highness Louise de Croÿ, Princess of Croÿ-Solre who then sold it in 1919 to the Association of Students of the Ecole Centrale (the "Centraliens").
From 1913 to 1989, the former Essling residence and then Maison des Centraliens underwent numerous alterations and enlargements, in particular the addition of three extra stories on the Rue Jean Goujon. A prestigious address in the centre of Paris, with a fine 22 metre Haussmann façade, the Maison des Centraliens was redeveloped in 1989 with the creation of a reception, restaurant, hotel, business centre, offices and car park.
Maison Martin Margiela
Martin Margiela takes a playful approach to classical styles. His objective is to offer a surprising, poetic experience, which does not become exhausted with a single visit to the hotel: a liberating experience, a journey within a journey, which exists nowhere else.
The rules of the game
These are based on the principle of the displacement of a concept, as is illustrated from the outset with the flooring in the vestibule where black marble cabochons take liberties with the rule that they should be placed exactly at the corners of white tiles.
Irony is embraced in the true sense of the word, i.e. a play on what is said and what is meant, a shift between the words and the intention, between appearance and reality: the cabochons in the traditional French tiling are there, but not in quite the right place; in the white lounge, the lighting is trained on traces of old frames, painted on the new wall; in the rooms, the traditional Persian rug becomes a motif woven into the carpet; in the suites, the Haussmann style mouldings break off in a random fashion. Symbols of another time are placed in a new frame: the supreme refinement of the dandy, portraying Beau Brummell who, it is said, would have his valet wear his clothes before he decided which ones to put on.
Illusion: the armchairs and tables in the restaurant seem to be floating a few centimetres above the floor, and yet, fear not, they are perfectly stable and comfortable. The trompe-l’œil mouldings on the stairs to the Empire lounges, the effects with light that give the illusion that a closed door is open, letting the sunshine in. Ultimately everything contributes to the creation of a theatrical world, the scene of a magical show in which we are, if not the actors, at least willing accomplices.
The building's architectural heritage has been carefully preserved: walls and ceilings have only been concealed when this has been necessary for technical reasons. Martin Margiela has not covered up the mouldings or the marble in the vestibule in order to replace one style with another. On the contrary, the objective has been to to enhance historical characteristics by giving them a theatrical emphasis. There is also a respect for comfort, as illustrated by the attention to lighting, particularly in the rooms, and to acoustics, in the restaurant, for example. And, of course, compliance with all relevant safety regulations.