Located between Monte-Carlo and Menton, on the cliffs of the exclusive neighborhood La Toracca, of the exclusive French Riviera town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin — once the private hunting grounds of Monaco’s reigning family — is perhaps the most private.
Built in 1928 by the architect Robert Streitz for Coco Chanel and Hugh Grosvenor, the second Duke of Westminster, the sophisticated simplicity of La Pausa reflects Chanel’s active involvement in all stages of the design and creation of the property, which was her French Riviera residence from 1929 to 1953.
Chanel made repeated trips from Paris to supervise the work, paying such attention to the detail of its interior design that she insisted on the installation of a replica of the stone staircase she remembered from the French orphanage where she grew up.
It was in Monte Carlo in 1923, at age 42 that Chanel was introduced by Lombardi to the vastly wealthy Duke of Westminster. The Duke of Westminster lavished Chanel with extravagant jewels, costly art, and a home in Mayfair. His affair with Chanel lasted ten years.
In 1929, he gifted her with a parcel of land he had purchased near Monte Carlo where Chanel built an opulent villa, La Pausa. It was during Chanel’s ownership that the house enjoyed its early celebrity. The Duke chose the location while sailing the Riviera with the couturier in his yacht. The affair between the duke and the couturier ended in 1930, but she kept the house.
La Pausa has two suites — one for Chanel, one for the duke — are upstairs. Hers had the view over the garden, which is filled with 350 olive trees and plantings of daisies, mimosa and iris. In 2007, the garden inspired Jacques Polge, the celebrated “nose” at Chanel, to create “28 La Pausa.”
Chanel’s guests at La Pausa included her creative friends, artists, musicians, and writers like Igor Stravinsky, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Paul Iribe, Salvador Dalí and Luchino Visconti.
Following the Duke of Westminster’s death, Chanel sold the villa to the American writer and publisher Emery Reves, who invited friends Greta Garbo and Jackie Onassis to holiday at his new residence. The former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was frequent guest of the Reves’. La Pausa was listed for sale back in May 2013 by Sotheby’s for €40 million.
The luxury French fashion house, which is owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, released a statement saying: “It is thus an essential testimony to Gabrielle Chanel’s life that has now become part of the heritage of Chanel. After renovations to restore it to its original spirit, La Pausa will take on a new lease of life and radiate the culture and values of Chanel.”
Once work is complete, it’s surely only a matter of time before Monsieur Lagerfeld stages a fashion show there.