Robert Murphy is the author of “The Private World of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Bergé” and owner of RCM Galerie which specializes in 20th Century furniture and sculpture.
RCM Galerie / 32 rue de Lille / 75007 Paris / +33 (0) 1.40.15.00.23 firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the gallery’s blog here.
SHAGREENE: When did you first get a glimpse into the rarified lives of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé?
ROBERT MURPHY: I met YSL and PB as a reporter at WWD and W in Paris and over the years got to know both of them. I remember the first lunch I had at Pierre Bergé’s house on the Rue Bonaparte. We lunched in the winter gardern and had coffee in the library, where all of his rare books are arranged.
S: At what point did you realize you wanted to do a book on them and how did it come about?
RM: Pierre Bergé organized a gathering at Saint Laurent’s house on the evening of his funeral service. I asked Mr Bergé what he planned to do with all of the treasures in the house with Saint Laurent gone. It was then that he first said he planned to sell their collection at auction. I knew the houses had to be documented together. They are works of art in their own right.
S: When you’re in one of the homes featured in the book, can you put into words what you feel when you’re there?
RM: Each has a special environment. As I said in the book, their taste was really literary in the sense that they created stories . Saint Laurent’s rue de Babylone flat was breathtaking in the perfection of its arrangement and its assured taste. Each object was extraordinary. But the juxtaposition of pieces was even more interesting.
S: You talk about Pierre Bergé and YSL really cultivating their own taste – at what point did they surpass the styles of their predecessors like the Rothschilds or Noailles that they esteemed so much?
RM: Both men were very assured in their collecting. They never thought small and waited until they had real money before they started buying. They really perpetuated a whole school of taste. But they made it their own very early on. It was really in the melange of periods and pieces they that created their own style. It was much more sexy than their predecesssors.
S: What is your favorite room or residence in the book?
RM: Again, Saint Laurent’s house in Paris was wonderful. But I felt admiration for each room and house. Each told its own story and added to the Saint Laurent myth. Deauville had a decadent poetry and the house in Marrakech is sublime.
S: Can you share a special memory from your time creating this book?
RM: Pierre Bergé gave us complete carte blanche. At one point he said he didn’t want us to take certain pictures. But we did it anyway. And when I showed him the book he was very happy.
S: When did you decide to open an antiques store?
RM: My wife comes from four generations of antiques dealers. We were dealing in a private apartment for some time and last year decided it was time to open a gallery in Paris. We specialize in 20th century furniture and sculpture.
All photos by Ivan Terestchenko.