Set superstar Alexandre de Betak’s Paris apartment interiors go under the hammer
For 30 years French art director, scenographer and designer Alexandre de Betak has pulled off some the fashion world’s most outstanding catwalk shows. Who could forget the 59 ft mountain of blue delphiniums he constructed in the courtyard of the Louvre for Raf Simons’ final Dior show in 2015, or last year’s Paris show for Rodarte in a 16th-century hospital garden cloister – a location de Betak himself found.
In addition to pulling together more than 1,000 catwalk spectacles, the runway producer has also designed furniture and houses and amassed a vast collection of art and objets. On 28 March, Paris auction house Piasa holds a sale of more than 200 pieces taken from his Paris apartment. Among them are minimal and kinetic artworks and lights, furniture from the 1940s to the 1970s and prototypes of his own pieces.
‘Modèle Miss Dorn’ pair of chairs, €400-€600, by Philippe Starck, 1982
‘I had no more space,’ says de Betak, who recently sold the Paris apartment and has renovated a loft in Manhattan with his partner Argentinean-born art director Sofía Sanchez Barrenechea. ‘I was literally hanging art on the ceiling, which I recommend, actually. But I had done the fun part, the researching, the sourcing, the discovery. I enjoy these aspects more than actually owning.’
At the collection’s core are lights from Italian mid-century maestros such as Gianfranco Frattini, Marcello Morandini, Ettore Sottsass and Joe Colombo, and monochrome artworks by the likes of Marc Cavell and Edison Parra. ‘These have always been my passion as working with light and movement is what I do for a living,’ says de Betak. ‘The collection has gone full circle; I started collecting these pieces because they reflect what I do, and then I started being influenced by them in my creations.’
Included in the sale are some of De Betak’s own pieces, such as ‘Gisele’, a one-off neon and Plexiglass piece of the Brazilian model created for the Victoria’s Secret catwalk show in 2002, some Plexiglas bookcases created for an AD Intérieurs exhibition in Paris, and a collection of superhero figurines and robots.
‘Memphis’ coffee table, €1,500-€2,500, by Enesto Gismondi, 1980
Once a collector, always a collector, and this clear out, says de Betak, gives him the opportunity to start another collection. ‘It is something of an obsession,’ he explains from Marrakech where he is on the hunt for black clay ceramics. ‘I have a pretty eclectic taste; I like tribal art, Italian Renaissance, Greek mythology, Baroque. I don’t believe in traditional collecting; I can find something attractive in every area.’
With a magpie eye, he jumps centuries and cultures with ease, and doesn’t restrict his talents to the catwalk. His summer retreat in the hills of Majorca, is an organic BabaPapa-style bolt hole to where he escapes to ‘experiment in stone and ceramics’. Among the decorative touches in his new Soho loft is a tatami room, a mirrored bar, a bedroom made of metal scaffolding and hydraulic table that rises from the floor. The auction offers viewers a 3D glimpse of the passions of the scenographer who is known as the Fellini of Fashion.