Every word that Émilie Luc-Duc utters is measured and thoughtful, emitting a reassured elegance that is a reflection of her environment. This artist director specialises in knitwear and has graced the world’s most beautiful luxury houses, Repetto, Léonard and even Dior, with her presence. If the unity of silhouette is the thread that runs through her collections, is it perhaps at its most apparent in her own apartment. After over a hundred viewings, Émilie Luc-Duc exchanged sky for water when it came to picking a new home. And you understand why when you see her view of Parisian rooftops, perched high above the Canal St Martin. Her home is a testimony to her love of stripes, with an allure that evokes seaside holidays, within an open-plan layout in the shape of a star. As the gentle summer breeze plays with the leaves on the trees, the sun plays hide and seek between the branches, and there’s a sense of a natural harmony where nothing more is required. Nothing, except the rare and valuable acquisition that the couple has made over the years. Discoveries made by Alexis or those made from the purest artistic traditions that they love so much. Read about our wonderful encounter with a refined Parisienne.
Émilie, could you introduce yourself?
I am a Parisian designer, the fiancé of Alexis and the mother of Greta. I studied Art and then attended the IFM (French Institute of Fashion). I have always designed collections for various luxury and fashion houses (Dior, Anne Valérie Hash, Léonard …). I was the Creative Director for Rodier for several years, during which I completely renovated their image and their collection. Then I created the Repetto’s first pret-à-porter line. A collection that I designed for four years. Before my daughter was born, I launched a collection under my name: Émilie Luc-Duc. In the future, I’d like to devote more of my time to developing it. At the moment, I’m working on a couple of very different projects, a mesh collection with Italian craftsmen for a number of luxury houses, and advising in Artistic Direction (image and collection) for fashion brands. I was an artist in residence at Studio 13/16 at Centre Georges Pompidou for the exhibition Made in Jersey. Most recently I designed the uniforms for the Fleming Hotel in Hong Kong and for the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore with a firm of architects.
What made you decide to live in the Canal St Martin district?
I visited about 100 apartments all over Paris before finding this apartment. I really enjoyed it and it taught me a lot… Previously, I’d lived on the top floor with a view of the sky and Paris rooftops. What was important to us this time was that we had a space that opened onto nature, where we could see sky and trees, and where there was lots of sunshine. A place which reminds us of being on holiday… We were blown away by the art-deco architecture of this apartment. The way space has been used, the view of the canal, the romance of this lively quartier, it all completely seduced us straight away. It makes us feel in the heart of Paris and in another world at the same time.
How did you decorate your apartment?
It’s an open-plan apartment, constructed in the shape of a star, with large glass doors in all the rooms. It’s very unique… I didn’t want to change too much because each room has their own character. We found it more interesting to think of the whole apartment as a unit, as a place where all the rooms meet and tell the same story. It was more harmonious and seemed more logical to me. It was a really fun exercise. To ‘decompartmentalise’ and create a sense of unity and continuous energy. We wanted matt white walls, a floor as bare and as natural as possible. Alexis has a talent for finding treasures like this Bernd Karlby light, which we have recreated in different sizes for other rooms. He also found some sketches by Sonia Dellaunay that fit perfectly in Greta’s room as well as our entrance hall. We take time in making our choices and investments, usually Alexis is the instigator. It takes time to make an object your own and integrate it into your home.
Is there a decorative style or a designer that particularly inspires you?
I like the atmosphere of workshops, places that are not overly decorated, not too structured, where you can think clearly and create. For me Picasso’s studio and the Brancusi studio are palaces! Generally I admire beautiful items that serve a purpose, I find it difficult to appreciate ornaments for the sake of ornaments. I always feel better in clean, open spaces, with a small selection of carefully chosen items that add rather than detract. I also love furniture that resembles outdoor furniture, like our Hans Wegner rocking chair, and I really like striped and block-coloured items that look like blinds and umbrellas! I’m also drawn to the innocent, childlike charm of African sculptures, Picasso’s ceramics and Sonia Delaunay’s drawings. Essentially, I have a passion for all types of crafts, and a particular weakness for old embroidered linen, woven Cogolin carpets and the basketwork of bistro chairs and Audoux Minet seats.
The piece of furniture from your wildest dreams?
It’s not really a piece of furniture, but I’ve always had a fascination for the solid fragility of mobiles. I love Calder’s sculptures, they make me feel like I’m dreaming. I’d like to find time to design one in different materials one day.
What is your place lacking?
I don’t feel that I’m missing anything. It already feels overloaded, but I often think of Virginia Woolf’s book A Room of One’s Own. It’s really important to have a room of one’s own… to think and create!
Is it easy to balance beautiful decor and family life?
I would say so … Each new piece is my own little protégé and I so sometimes worry that something might happen to it. But little by little I’ve allowed my objects and our family to live alongside without worrying too much. The marks of wear and tear are also what give them their character. You cannot live in a showroom after all.
Where do you like spending time with your daughter Greta?
Whenever Greta is upset, we go to the window. You can see the boats passing over the canal, the birds, the passers-by crossing the bridge; And I tell her made-up stories to distract her.
How did you choose her name?
We chose this name because of the way it sounds. We wanted a tasteful, interesting, zesty name, with a unique character.
Where do you seek inspiration for your work? Who inspires you the most?
Everything inspires me! The detail of a wrought iron railing, traditional embroidery, a ruffled laundered shirt, the fringes of a old rope. The seashores too! The Mediterranean, the beaches, the white hotels, the Riviera. And also glamorous, graceful ladies who mock convention with their elegance.
And for furniture, where do you find your pieces?
I often stroll through Paul Bert Serpette. Alexis and I always stop at flea markets when we are in province. I also spend time at 1stDibs when I go for walks, and on Selency, Drouot Live, and I read The Socialite Family, of course!
Your favourite colour at the moment?
All kinds of white! Bright white, cream, ivory. They’re delicious together. At the moment I’m in the middle of designing a wedding dress, so that’s perfect timing!
Do you have an address you recommend to us?
We were recently at Roches Rouges. The view of the sea from the terrace is delightful. You can eat freshly-caught grilled fish in the evening. Divine.
Photography: Constance Gennari – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily