“A client asked me to build him a house in Connecticut in the purest Jeffersonian style, an exact re-creation of architecture during the period of the American Revolution. I replied, ‘as long as it is stipulated in the contract that you live there wearing a powdered wig as people did at the time!’”
Don’t expect Peter Marino to create a mere pastiche of the old when he is reimagining a historic building. For the architect, who was entrusted with his third intervention at Dior’s legendary address, “times have changed, evolution is inexorable, things move forward.” Indeed, at the corner of Rue François I and Avenue Montaigne, visitors will now find a two-story Dior boutique, a restaurant, a patisserie, three gardens, a 21,500-square-foot museum chronicling Christian Dior’s epic story, and, the most recent additions, renovated haute couture and jewelry workshops.
It is a place of possibilities, unique in the world of luxury, combining history, creativity, and know-how. As Marino pays tribute to the history of the House of Dior, he does so by anchoring it in the present, as in the Rotonde, which dazzles with its wooden moldings and exposed steel beams. The contrast between heritage and modernity is expressed throughout the nearly 108,000-square-foot complex, thanks to the combination of more than a hundred different materials, from stone to precious fabrics in a gradation of whites.
In this ongoing dialogue between the old and the new, the architect prefers the term “assumed influence” to refer to elements like the woodwork recovered from the old store, the emblematic Versailles parquet, the caning on chairs, and the pale pink toile de Jouy: “That toile is crazy coming from me, but it is very Dior. Monsieur Dior added it in 1950, and it seemed logical to me to reinterpret it because those original elements convey the Dior spirit better than I ever could. One should always remember the past, even if it’s not a reason to live there. I am a contemporary architect, so I create contemporary buildings.”