Maxim’s de Paris Dessert as a Dress Code
In 1981, in love with modernity, Pierre Cardin acquired a unique example of the style of art nouveau — Maxim’s restaurant in Paris. Reincarnation of the brand was marked by the opening, in the world capitals, of boutiques, cafes, bistros and confectioneries of the same name. Gourmets received a gift of chocolate Maxim’s de Paris. It was an exquisite delicacy, created according to the laws of high confectionery art and imbued with memories of the life of European bohemia — contemporaries and daughters of the Magnificent Age.
Look for Irma!
A noted Parisian, Irma de Montigny, adored fun, extravagant outfits and noisy parties. One evening, after a performance in the company of her theatrical fraternity, the charming woman looked into the café of her friend, Maxim Gaiyar. Having drained a glass of champagne, the actress went to the stage and, as they say, lit it up to the fullest with her chansonette. The audience was delighted and the restless Irma decided to turn the bistro into a fun club ‘‘for her’’. Talents and admirers took the idea to heart and, soon, the institution was replete with countless visitors. In 1893, under the rustle of skirts and the sounds of the can-can on Rue Royale-3, the history of Maxim’s restaurant began.
Red and gold
The first regulars, more frivolous than the wealthy, in the heat of intoxicating fun, often forgot to pay their bills. A lossmaking institution, Gaiyar soon had to sell. The new owner, enterprising Eugen Komiush, took up the reorganization on the eve of the World Paris Exhibition, timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the capture of the Bastille. The events were planned to be grandiose and the entire ‘‘upper crust’’ of the world was to arrive at the celebrations.
Paris was preholiday trembling. Eiffel was building up his tower. Hector Gimar had designed the famous pavilions at the descent to the Paris metro. Restaurateur Komiush decided that his most important task was to impress the imaginations of his most refined guests. For the new interior in the style of Art Nouveau, the best decorators of the École de Nancy (art school) worked for two years. Furniture was according to the sketches of Majorelle, mirrors and lamps by Emile Galle and silverware from Tiffany & Co.
The radiance of the chandeliers, the colour glare of the stainedglass windows, wood carvings, velvet and crystal all contributed to the second birth of the restaurant, which was greeted with enthusiastic exclamations and magnums of champagne. The name Maxim became synonymous with luxury, elegance and bohemian chic. In memory of these events, the design of the Maxim’s de Paris chocolate packaging reminds one of scarlet lambrequins, with gold embroidery that appeared above the entrance to the restaurant during its first great triumph.
The restaurant on Rue Royale was the favourite spot of Georges Goursat. The caricaturist artist, known under the pseudonym Sam, in several pencil strokes, masterly (sometimes ruthlessly) revealed a character’s truest colours. His work includes countless drawings on the theme of life at Maxim’s, where Goursat found an inexhaustible source of inspiration. To this day, these pieces decorate the restaurant menu, boxes and wrappers of Maxim’s de Paris chocolate. The King of Great Britain, Edward VII, the wine magnate Marquis Boni de Castellane, Prince Trubetskoi, the barons Alfonso and Gustave Rothschild, Marcel Proust, the queen of the music hall, Marie Lloyd, the muse of the artist Renoir, Misia Sert, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich — all of these people can be included in a list of those who can be easily recognised in the caricatures on display. Looking at the drawings, you can see how the wellhealed spend their time, how they dressed and how they danced and celebrated. If you try the sweets on offer, you can, perhaps, discover how they felt when they were enjoying the best desserts in Paris.
The main dish is celebrities
Famous politicians, businessmen, artists and writers were honoured to visit the restaurant on the Champs Élysées. Here, Onassis and Maria Callas, handsome Cary Grant and millionaire Barbara Houghton, Édith Piaf, Barbara Streisand and much of the Hollywood nobility sat and enjoyed.
Twenty-four-year-old Pierre Cardin, with the Romanian actress Elvira Popescu, in 1946, came to Maxim’s, where the diva had invited the young man to have supper. Black caviar was served. Cardin, armed with a spoon, tucked in to the unfamiliar delicacy, until he heard a surprised exclamation from Popescu: ‘‘Do you know how much it costs?’’ It was impossible to break away. Cardin was fully taken aback, but he learnt a valuable lesson; that high gastronomy (like high fashion) does not tolerate excesses.
Chocolate in a box in the form of a case much like a jewellery box surpasses jewellery in one special way: You can give a woman this box every day. Maxim’s regulars appreciate refined wines and treats, at times, more than jewellery. Interestingly, during restoration efforts in the late 50s, between the backs and the seats of armchairs and sofas, diamonds and rubies were discovered, probably having fallen out of elegant handbags and pockets. It would seem that the female patrons paid little attention to such insignificant losses. The atmosphere of the restaurant inspired wealthy guests to be generous, it appears!
The 1992 celebration was remembered for a long time, even by a public accustomed to extravagances. This is because an Arab sheikh, present in the hall, showered all of the participants of the celebration with real jewels.
Small crimson hearts, ovals and cubes with gold embossing and mannered tin cans delicately remind us that true aristocracy is in restraint. It is enough just to bite a delicious truffle or to sink your teeth into a creation of a chocolate spread’s velvety delight. It will stay with you a long time. To appreciate the best use of chocolate as an accompaniment in appetizers, desserts and sauces, a true gourmet is needed who can recognise that a finely chopped chocolate petal is not just an ornament, but a clear taste accent that melts on the tongue. The time will come when the gift box of sweets from Maxim’s will take a worthy place in the Museum of Art Nouveau, on the second floor of the restaurant. It will be cast as the star of its era; a gold standard of elegance and good manners. Times and fashions may be changing, but the noble bitterness of good chocolate remains an enduring classic that always wins, just like fine music or fine wine.
Шоколад Maxim’s можно приобрести в бутике La Maison Du Vin 49 Ayiou Athanasiou street, 25736220
“Three sketches of Lucian Freud” by Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon was an English expressionist painter and a master of figurative painting. His triptych, in 2013, became the most expensive work of art in the world. “Three sketches of Lucian Freud” was sold at Christie’s auction for a record sum of 142 million dollars.
The triptych, created by the artist in 1969, was auctioned for the first time at a pre-sale estimate of 85 million dollars. Bidding lasted only six minutes and the auction house did not disclose the identity of the buyer. Each part of the triptych has the same size of 198×147.5 cm. Each canvas depicts Lucien Freud in different poses, while seated on a chair is the artist Lucien Freud. The background is orange-brown, which is brighter than normal for the works of Bacon.
“Number 5” by Jackson Pollock
“Number 5” was completed in 1948 and utilised the technique of spraying, which is the corporate style of the artist. The picture size is 243.8×121.9 cm and is mounted on fibreboard (hardboard).
In 2006, at an auction organised by the auction house Sotheby’s, it was sold for 140 million dollars. It is believed that the hype surrounding this painting was created artificially. All of the paintings of Jackson Pollock were presented in museums and sold freely. Yet, “Number 5” was hidden and shown only when all of the other artworks were sold.
Consequently, the price of the painting went up to the heavens and broke many records. The original painting was in a private collection and was then exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It then became the property of producer David Geffen. Who sold it for $ 140 million? According to unconfirmed reports, it was a famous Mexican billionaire.