French manicure: an immaculate apartment on the banks of the Seine

When Célia Bernard and her husband Jean-Marie Castille found this two-bedroom Parisian apartment directly on the Right Bank of the Seine, they were sure about one thing: they didn’t want to paint it white. Instead, they opted for a khaki in the entry hall and dark chocolate brown doors. They also painted the living room in a deep yellow that she refers to as “curry”.

Colour is very much at the heart of the ebullient Bernard’s latest professional venture. After 22 years working as a broker in finance, she set up a fashion brand, Love and Let Dye, with her friend, Marine Vignes, who is best known in France as a TV weather presenter. The idea came to them during a trip to Bali in 2020, where they decided to have some clothes made for themselves. “We hired a scooter and went down little alleyways hunting for a tailor and for women who worked with the tie-and-dye technique,” recalls Bernard. “For me, it’s like Proust’s madeleine. Tie-and-dye takes me back to my youth when I sold jeans on Venice Beach in Los Angeles.”

The official launch took place at the height of the pandemic in May 2020 and their collection of leggings, kaftans, loose shirts and dresses proved an instant success. They sold out within a fortnight and the label now has a network of nearly 60 salespoints, from Paris to Lisbon and Tel Aviv to Amsterdam.

In between finance and fashion, Bernard dabbled in real estate for several years, largely hunting down houses and apartments for friends and acquaintances. She initially went to visit this one in that capacity, but fell so in love with it that she and Castille, the head of a medical start-up, decided to buy it.

Located in a 1930s building, the apartment offers spectacular views of some of Paris’s most famous monuments. The Eiffel Tower is just across the river, slightly to the left, and if Bernard steps out on to the balcony, she can see all the way to Montmartre and the Sacré Cœur. “We really fell for the fact that it’s directly on the Seine,” she says. “It’s so restful to have the water flowing below you.”

It took eight months to transform the interior, which had formerly consisted of a host of small rooms. “I wanted everything to be open so you can circulate,” says Bernard. “It’s more or less like a circle.” The heart of the new layout is the expansive open kitchen with its granite island, which can seat up to 12 for dinner.

Ask Bernard about her aesthetic when it comes to decor and she’s at pains to pinpoint a specific style. She is drawn to Art Deco, but more than anything else she strove to create “a cosy and more or less coherent” interior. In the task, she was helped not just by her husband but also her mother-in-law, Geneviève Jabouille, owner of the well-known Left Bank restaurant La Méditerranée, opposite the Théâtre de l’Odéon.

On the shelves in the kitchen are the first items the couple bought together: two drawings by First World War soldiers, which they found in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in 1993. There are also vases from the Paris flea market, as well as a pair of wooden wall lights designed by the Long Island-based firm, Allied Maker. A recent purchase is a pair of candleholders from interior design store the Compagnie de l’Orient et de la Chine.

The apartment was an opportunity for Bernard to indulge her love of wallpapers. “I spent hours looking for the right ones,” she says. “I like the way they give walls a bit of depth and find they cheer up a space.” Other fun items include a Mathieu Challières birdcage ceiling light in the guest room, a colourful toaster reminiscent of Russian matryoshka dolls, and a table football table in the entry hall.

The latter was something Bernard absolutely wanted to integrate. “My husband gave it to my son when he was 12 and we didn’t have space for it in our former flat. So, it was stored away in a garage,” she says. “I was intent on finding a place for it here.” Given the success of her new fashion brand, she is currently so busy that she doesn’t have much time to play. “Still,” she adds, “when we do have dinner parties, it immediately creates a playful mood.”

loveandletdye.com

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