H A R P E R ‘ S B A Z A A R S P E C I A L
B A C K T O O U R N A T U R E
REVIVE GOLDEN ERA HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR FOR NATURALLY SPECTACULAR OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING
Words and Creative Direction by: LUIGI IRAUZQUI
Photographs by: ASCANIO VARDAN
Celebrity interior designer Luigi Irauzqui is our man in Hollywood.
Not only does his client roster read like a Who’s Who of the A-list (think Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon and Christina Ricci) but he has an innate talent for creating the most unforgettable experiences. When he told Bazaar Interiors he was creating a spectacular outdoor party in a renowned pink home in the Hollywood Hills, we simply had to accept the invitation to be there for the festivities, and pick up some tips on fabulous entertaining. Here, he recounts the history of this home, and how he created an homage to L.A’s Indian Summer for an indisputably glamour list of guests.
“Nestled in the Hollywood hills, between two notoriously steep canyons, high above the celebrated Sunset Boulevard lies a tranquil 1920’s mansion painted the same shade of pink in tribute to one of the most celebrated hotels of the golden era of cinema: the great Beverly Hills Hotel.
The area is home to the highest concentration of celebrities in the world. These elite residents not only enjoy absolute privacy, shielded as they are from all other mortals in the city below, but they have the exclusive rights to one of the most iconic views the City of Angels has to offer.
The home once owned by Robert Downie Jr is now the property of Bill Miltenberger, whose vision of bringing back the house to its 1920’s glory was realised by designer Ernie Zayat, whose quest was to make this the indoor-outdoor space that Hollywood dream homes are made of.
This is one residence that has been designed with an emphasis on entertaining. As such, several social spaces were created outdoors to allow guests a spectacular view of the Olympic-sized swimming pool and tennis court from every angle of the house. Merging the indoors and outdoors is a way of life in California. Angelinos spend most of their time outdoors as the living is easy and expected, taking full advantage of the raw beauty of nature and the year round sunshine that originally attracted the pioneers of the silver screen to the Wild West.
The house was originally built to be an outdoor oasis with versatile spaces that include an outdoor kitchen and grill, wood burning firepits for those chilly nights in the Canyon, mazes built from manicured hedges, palm trees galore, grass landings and covered areas throughout to shield the guests from the hot summer sun.
When I first walked into this home for a New Year’s party a few years ago, I knew this would be the perfect setting one day to host a weekend of festivities inspired by the spirit and architectural integrity of the house and the glamour and decadence of the roaring 1920’s when the party in Hollywood was just getting started. The theme of the weekend was loosely inspired by fiction’s greatest entertainer of all time: The Great Gatsby. The bohemian glamour was in full swing but we gave it 2013 flair; girls in long dresses running through mazes; pretty flirty girls in tennis gear; croquet in the yard with champagne glass in hand; picnics and strawberries on the tennis court, poolside frolicks and hidden romantic corners where beauties long for a stolen kiss.
The Art Deco-inspired clothing in a kaleidoscope of colours complements the distinct Moorish and Syrian influenced furnishings; with patterns over patterns and strong ethnic accents, taking full advantage of this year’s biggest design trend – colour, colour, colour! It’s the perfect antidote to a dry, hot summer.
And now that the heat is finally beginning to dwindle and people are tentatively returning outdoors, there are plenty of ideas for celebrating al fresco and making the most of our green spaces, taking inspiration from Hollywood’s Indian Summer, with warm windy weather and balmy nights.
So I brought the indoors out, by creating beautiful scenes drawn from nature and fresh elements to establish outdoor entertaining ‘rooms’. This is a concept not foreign to native Angelinos; to haul your existing furniture outdoors, take the party outside, reconnect with nature. There are few things that feel more decadent than dining outdoors, getting the firepit going, relaxing on chaise lounges and piles of cushions in a medley of brilliant shades reminiscent of Middle Eastern spices; with virgin Alpaca spreads in patterned Indian brights. The jewel tones in the clothing; turquoise, yellows, fuchsias, emeralds and purples make a vibrant palette to compliment the furnishings and accessories. And as the pool patio is sumptuously illuminated by candlelight, a fabulous table is set for dusk, using natural elements found in the garden, bright yellow roses, the La Jolla bougainvillea, lemon leaves and foliage from palm trees and the mature Birds of Paradise.
Drawing inspiration from the house, the décor and the beautiful guests, made it the perfect setting for a lavish weekend getaway, old Hollywood style. With its rich entertainment history, I knew I needed to bring a touch of cinematic drama to the event. When my guests got wind of this, everyone immediately took on a persona of their own and aspired to play their alter egos. From sultry Middle Eastern princesses to cool Hitchcock blondes, from dashing suave leading men, to exotic South American sirens – while Hollywood classics such as Sunset Boulevard, The Great Gatsby, Romeo & Juliet, The Sting, Cabaret and A Star Is Born were channeled into the fabric of the evening.
With over 300 days of sun every year in Hollywood, we have to embrace the sun, much as you do in the Middle East. Then light and heat become major considerations when making choices for materials, textures and colours for decorating outdoors; as well as choosing the right flowers and food for the occasion. Usually, I draw from nature for a seamless result; bringing in representations of personality, my imagination, different cultures and beliefs to create something truly spectacular.” ■