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Glamorous memory of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat – ‘La Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild’ by Jean-Pierre Demoly & Michel Steve (2002)

Dear readers, back in 2017, I have written a blog about a magnificent villa in the French Riviera where I have visited, the Villa et Jardin Ephrussi de Rothschild, it has been so magical and memorable that it’s kind of my wish one day, that 'someone special' will be able to take me there, opening my eyes to see this ultimate beauty, and experience what l'art de vivre à la française is, in the end, as time passes by, week after week, month after month, eventually I did found that ‘someone special’ to take me there, and that is myself! Don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to become that ‘someone special’ to step up the plate, to make my wish come true myself by making lots of efforts and dedication, to do some study, preparations, and saving up a lot before visiting; when I was there, even in such a hot weather at the villa, I still insisted to put on my classic attire - the sophisticated, high society, WASP-looking outfit, to match with the beautiful surrounding, the resort atmosphere of the villa, and the legacy that left by the late Baroness, despite I totally felt like I was baking myself in that outfit (when every tourists around me were wearing casual tees, shorts and flip flops, looking at me like ‘who-is-this-freak-dressing-up-like-an-ancient-dandy-lunatic-that-just-came-out-from-a-time-capsule!?’), as an A-class perfectionist-lunatic to be stylish and beautiful, it didn't bother me much, because deep down I knew that I have achieved the goal that I set for myself, is to show up at this magnificent villa, to marvel the beauty and paying tribute to the late Baroness' work and legacy, to be inspired and to educate myself with as much French history, culture, and sophistication possible, dressing up in my most amazing self to show my respect to all the beautiful and remarkable things that she's done.

Anyway, this memorable visit has been lingered in my mind from time to time, especially during the challenging times in the past few years, that I cannot even go back to visit France and my beloved French Riviera; whenever I took out those photos that I took from there, the Slim Aarons style photos that I’ve taken, it instantly made my day much sweeter and happier. Writing a blog to capture this memory is great, but, I still want to do something more, something greater that will leave an elegant and permanent mark whether in my life or this world, so back in mid last year, I decided to create a luxury fragrance for it; after months of work (that almost feels like a decade to me), with plenty of hassles and back-&-forth trials, at some point that this perfume even almost impossible, or I should put it this way, no longer viable to be developed anymore, yet, out of the blue, miracle happened, and thank God, this new-born of mine (another one) finally comes to this world in late April! It was the time when I was working on the display concept for this new fragrance, and putting some props together that I got, including a thin copy of book that I bought from the Villa’s souvenir shop in 2017, I started to realize that something is missing, it is a comprehensive copy of coffee table book that talks about Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild! As I recalled, I didn’t see any while I was in the souvenir shop back then, therefore I just got the thin book instead, somehow my gut feel keeps telling me that there’s a copy out there, so I went back to do some research online, and this time, guess what? I finally found it! It was a French edition titled ‘La Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild’, written by Mr. Jean-Pierre Demoly, and Mr. Michel Steve.

Published by L’Amateur in 2002, this book gathered some of the most valuable and sumptuous photos about the villa and the garden, it commences with the history of the late Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, then followed by the villa’s construction progress, from the architectural drawing to the work in progress scenarios, then of course, the crème-de-la-crème section – the interior design of the villa in detail, room by room, breaks it down to the priceless and exquisite antique furniture, objet d’art, paintings and collectibles, how the Baroness’ taste and her preference to make this luxurious residence into her dream home, and arrange everything that’s up to her standard and expectation. Since I had written a blog about this villa already, I am not going to repeat how beautiful this villa and its gardens are, having said that, I have to say how much I adore this book as it documented the villa and its gardens in such informative and comprehensive way, even with my very limited French knowledge, yet, I am glad that I can always go back to find out more information easily with this copy at hand. It always takes me back to the memory lane vividly whenever I think about Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, and the time that I had spent there, in the hot Mediterranean summer at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, to feel the glamour of one of the most sought-after resort destination by European aristocrats plus the rich and famous; To me, this wasn’t a fantasy anymore, it is real and I was able to immerse myself into part of this beautiful history, to revisit the fabulous life and the utmost elegant l’art de vivre of the late Baroness, and her high society guests once gathered in this very spot, to see, to feel, to breathe in, and to touch, all these valuable and remarkable legacy that the Baroness has left.

This book will always serve as a very special gift from Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to me, not only it keeps reminding me of the beauty and elegance of this luxury villa, the work and legacy of the late Baroness, personally, it has a much special meaning of how it witnesses the commitment, the progress and determination of the work that put in, my own work in particular, how did I turn my own fantasy that is way too far flung and unrealistic that no one believes in, and turns it into a reality myself: both making my trip to Villa et Jardin Ephrussi de Rothschild, and the creation of my new fragrance that was inspired by this magnificent villa; just like going through this book, chapter after chapter, building up the villa from the bare ground to its completion and splendor, it’s a beacon of hope, telling me to keep having faith in our own self whilst taking corresponding action, work hard and having perseverance, constantly, to make things happen even without anyone believing in you and your vision yet, to build one’s own dream from scratch. (it somehow reminds me of what the American author, Mr. Robert Greene, has said about 'A Sense of Fulfillment and True Pleasure' and 'Benefits of Hard Work' in his youtube video 'Lessons on Mastery'.)

By the way, the building of this villa is not a smooth sail at all! Even the late Baroness Béatrice had a challenging time to find a suitable architect to execute, realizing her dream villa, and have faith to believe in her vision after several rounds of meetings with different talented and experienced architects before she settled for the late Belgian architect, Mr. Aaron Messiah, to do the job! And I don't think it's an easy job to take on given the late Baroness' exceptional taste and high standard about style and beauty (maybe some might even think it was the craziest or the most 'tasteless' idea to paint the entire villa's façade in pastel pink since no one was doing that normally, for example). It's easy to spend only a moment to enjoy and appreciate the beauty right in front of us, and pleases our eyes, but how many of us can actually think deeper about the amount of work and effort it takes to see the end result as we see today? It might literally take more than months, or even years of work, and sometimes the on-going battle of idea differences, disagreements, and hassles to create such beauty that one can hardly imagine.

I do hope that if Baroness Béatrice is still living in our time now, I can personally have her to sign this book for me, at the same time, offering this new fragrance creation of mine to her, letting her know that how inspiring, and grateful I was able to 'visit her home', and see her work about style and art of living, plus admiring her courageous, unapologetic commitment (or 'stubbornness' if some might put it) about beauty and sophistication, and setting her very own standard about what kind of beauty that means and serve her life without compromising on anything less. Of course, and more importantly, having her to appreciate this little bottle of perfume creation of mine with my French perfumer, and hopefully, it'll become her iconic scent as the representation of the sophisticated high society lifestyle in the French Riviera, that lingers her wherever she goes.

I would like to wrap up this blog with two mood tunes, one of it is 'Theme from a summer place' by the late American composer, Mr. Henry Mancini, I played this song in my ipod when I was visiting the villa and the garden when I was sweating in my dapper outfit (almost got a heat stroke) but still trying to look amazing under the hot summer sky; and the other one, is 'Côte d'Azur ' by British composer, Mr. Keith Mansfield; I only discovered this music recently when I was organizing my playlist for my new fragrance, and it's been lingering in my mind since then; hope they'll take you to this magnificent villa in the sunny summer French Riviera when you listened to them, even when you were not physically be there just yet.


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