PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT HANS FONK

Melrose Place is a peaceful oasis in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. It forms a sanctuary for a number of top stores, removed from increasingly touristy Rodeo Drive. Leading studios and fashion houses dedicated to luxury have relocated here. It is also the location for one of the three creative studios owned by Jean de Merry and Christian D. Maroselli. Here they have brought together a number of leading designers in opulent surroundings.

Although Rodeo Drive has the reputation of being Los Angeles’ non plus ultra shopping street and its fame has attracted many up-market stores, there are other areas of the city, in particular in West Hollywood, that have blossomed and where sophisticated chic is paramount. Melrose Place is such a place. The actual name acquired world renown on account of a soap series set in a small West Hollywood apartment which ran in the nineties. However, for those-in-the-know, Melrose is a mecca of luxury, fashion and antique shopping. It is a leafy street with a great many original buildings: an oasis of calm in the metropolis. Although it enjoyed the reputation of being an ‘antiquing’ street, growing numbers of designer boutiques, high-end interior stores and art galleries have found a home here. They include Marni, Mary Norton, Temperley, Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta and Chloé. The well-known New York’s Fig & Olive opened a branch of its restaurant here. The Paris interior designer and gallery owner, Chahan Minassian, and jewellery designer, Vram Minassian, opened their Grey Gallery just around the corner.

Around the corner on Melrose Avenue, you will find amazing stores of Vivianne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Fred Segal, Diane von Furstenberg, Paul Smith, Foley & Corinna, and Balenciaga.

Jean de Merry’s studio is at the centre of Melrose Place. It is designed as a luxury interior with a patio behind; it features several top designers in a stunning setting. Creations by Azadeh Shladovsky, Callidus Guild, Helene Aumont, Heijden Hume, Hubert le Galle, JDM Textile and Philip Nimmo rub shoulders with Jean de Merry’s own designs,  invariably leather armchairs with a vintage look.

The designer: “My style rests on three pillars: subtle luxury, quality and avant-garde life-style. The pieces represent a voyage through time –  a voyage reaching back hundreds of years to the limestone plateaus of the Causse Noir in the south of France. In the 19th century the leather tanning industry was doing extremely well there. We have applied the leather-processing knowledge our families accumulated over the years to make furniture that has the look of treasured family heirlooms. That was the starting point for the Jean de Merry brand of artisanal interior objects.”

He presents his own designs in his showrooms in combination with work by other celebrated designers. The original idea had more of an Art Deco flavour, but his work has gradually evolved into an eclectic style with a vintage touch.