We can think of few finer collaborative concoctions than the one prepared by our current guest editor Lang Lang, experimental theatre director (and 2010 guest editor) Robert Wilson and composer Alexandre Desplat. The three came together at the Palace of Versailles on 10 September for a performance inspired by a rather unusual muse: Dom Pérignon vintage wine. And the results were palatable, indeed.
Dressed in the very same suit he wore for our portrait of him in our October issue - its piano-playing ergonomics carefully considered by our fashion team, of course - Lang Lang took to a custom-built revolving stage, designed by Wilson, in the 17th-century Chapelle Royale. Beneath its richly painted, vaulted ceiling, guests witnessed a masterfully orchestrated combustion of sound, sight and taste.
Dom Pérignon - which last year teamed up with 2010 Wallpaper* guest editor David Lynch on its advertising campaign - first put together this creative trio six months ago, when Lang Lang, Wilson and Desplat were tasked to create an ode to three vintages: the Dom Pérignon Vintage 2003, Dom Pérignon Rosé 2000 and Dom Pérignon Œnotheque 1996, picked out by Richard Geoffroy, the brand's chef de cave.
The top notes of each were translated into rousing music by Desplat and Lang Lang, with an energy and tone that changed according to the vintage. For the Œnotheque 1966, for example, it was earthy, dense and slow rising, while for the Vintage 2003 it was bright and sparkling - 'like a mosaic of disorganised elements', says Desplat.
Meanwhile, Wilson placed two long tables on either side of Lang Lang, echoing the Veronese painting 'The Feast in the House of Simon', which hangs in the adjacent Salon d'Hercule. These were surrounded by his own neon-emblazoned '7 Electric Chairs', designed for Kartell in 2011. As the pianist performed, dancers moved beside and around him, freezing at pertinent points or breaks in the music, before bubbling back to life.
The pairing of taste and performance continued into dinner in the Salon d'Hercule. Chef Jean-François Piège conceived a culinary homage to each vintage, served on mirrored plates that reflected the elaborate ceiling above - one of the largest painted ceilings in the world, created by François Le Moyne. A tasting menu-style starter of the likes of crushed anchovy with crystallised lemon and ice cube of radish - was paired with the Œnotheque 1966, while a main course of fowl from La Cour d'Armoise, cooked in fig leaves, with acidulated fruit juices and wild herbs, was complimented by the Vintage 2003.
Hugely ambitious in creative scope, and masterfully executed by Lang Lang and his collaborators, the evening was a perfectly pitched way to capture the spirit of the Dom Pérignon brand. The theatrics finished with a flourish, when guests were invited to blow out the candles at their tables... then eat them