Olivier Reza talks personal taste: Part Two

The jeweller rounds off his list of likes with sucuk, St Petersburg and antiques shopping in Saint Germain

Olivier Reza at home in Paris
Olivier Reza at home in Paris | Image: Circe

My style icon is Hubert de Givenchy. He’s tall with white hair and extremely elegant in the way he dresses; there’s never any excess. He is also one of the greatest collectors of modern times and his townhouse in the Marais is absolutely gorgeous.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is St Petersburg; I was in town for a party and could only spare two days, which isn’t nearly enough. I particularly loved the Hermitage Museum, which blew my mind: I loved the hardstone pieces, works of art crafted from stones like lapis and malachite; the 18th-century furniture; the old masters; and an exhibition of Peter the Great’s gorgeous clothes. I find there’s something very mystical about the whole atmosphere in St Petersburg – perhaps because my grandmother was Russian and my father was born there; I can’t wait to go back. Palace Square, St Petersburg 190000 (+7812-710 9079; www.hermitagemuseum.org).

The Louvre
The Louvre | Image: Getty Images

The best gift I’ve given recently was a ring, to my wife, for our 10th wedding anniversary and her 40th birthday. It’s a diamond and emerald Toi et Moi ring, which has a special meaning as we make such a good couple; we complement each other, just as the stones do – the emerald, with its beautiful inner fragility, and the diamond, the strongest of all gemstones. I made it especially for her, with stones from my father’s collection.

The last thing I bought and loved was an oil painting, Conjunction 97-038, by Korean artist Ha Chong-Hyun, who is part of a monochrome movement that started in Korea in the 1950s. It’s extremely pure and simplistic, like Lucio Fontana’s work, and very beautiful. I found it at Gallery Hyundai during Frieze in New York. It took me just half an hour to make my decision. www.friezenewyork.com. Gallery Hyundai, 14 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-190 (+822-2287 3500; www.galleryhyundai.com).


And the thing I’m eyeing next is an Antony Gormley sculpture. I love how he approaches the same subject over and over again in so many different ways, and his treatment of metal, which is never the same, always unique. The one I have my eye on is at White Cube, a nice, spherical composition. First, though, I have to earn it. 144-152 Bermondsey St, London SE1 (020-7930 5373; www.whitecube.com).

An indulgence I would never forgo is wine, particularly red like good burgundy, a Gevrey-Chambertin or Nuits-St-George. I like wines by Dujac, Fournier, Rousseau, Trapet and Dominique Laurent. Burgundy has the most subtle and varied nuances; it’s an art form, one of man’s great achievements. The taste sensations are spectacular, and it’s also an easy fix. Food has to be cooked or you have to find a restaurant, whereas you can open a bottle of burgundy, pour a glass and it’s like being in a beautiful place or looking at a beautiful woman or work of art.  

Hubert de Givenchy, 1970
Hubert de Givenchy, 1970 | Image: AFP/Getty Images

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Yeni Lokanta in Istanbul, where I was visiting my wife’s family. I liked the way very traditional Turkish dishes were revisited and modernised; the sucuk, spicy Turkish sausage, was especially delicious. The decor was also very fresh – contemporary but warm, with little mosaics that somehow reminded me of an Hermès store. The chef, who is also the owner, is passionate about the food and the ambience; he’s someone who really cares. Kumbaracı Yokusu 66, Beyoglu, Istanbul (+90212-292 2550; www.lokantayeni.com).

My favourite room in my house is my library. I designed it from scratch, mixing wood, fabric and metalwork, and populated it with things I’ve collected over the years. There’s a 1930s shagreen and ivory coffee table, a Jean Dunand vase, a 1930s desk, a Rodin sculpture, a Roman bust, some Islamic art. I also love dinanderies, which I buy from dealers like DeLorenzo in New York, and mixing them with contemporary art. The carpet is dark brown, the walls have blue suede panels and the sofa is blue velvet. I always feel great in there; my eyes are constantly satisfied. 956 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021 (+1212-249 7575; www.delorenzogallery.com).

Yeni Lokanta, Istanbul
Yeni Lokanta, Istanbul

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, with all its antiques dealers and specialists in 1930s, 1940s and 1950s objects, such as Galerie Marcilhac and Willy Huybrechts. I’ve always found very interesting things there. It’s one of the few places left in the world with a true community of antiques dealers. After shopping, or in the middle, I like to refuel at L’Atelier, where you sit at a bar facing the kitchen. The salade Niçoise is the best in the world. Galerie Marcilhac, 8 Rue Bonaparte (+331-4326 4736; www.marcilhacgalerie.com). L’Atelier Saint Germain de Joël Robuchon, 5 Rue Montalembert (+331-4222 5656; www.atelier-robuchon-saint-germain.com). Willy Huybrechts, 11 Rue Bonaparte (www.willy-huybrechts.com).

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Van Gogh, and specifically his landscapes. He was a genius; his work was so different, so groundbreaking. At MoMA there’s a Van Gogh painting of a typical Dutch village, with the sun and a church with a crowd around it.  

Reza’s oil painting Conjunction 97-038 by Ha Chong-Hyun
Reza’s oil painting Conjunction 97-038 by Ha Chong-Hyun | Image: Circe

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are my personal trainer at Equinox, whom I see twice a week, and the instructors at Erika Bloom Pilates; I discovered Pilates recently and now do it intensely to help my back problems. I also see a chiropractor, Daniel, at Complete Wellness, who manipulates like no one else. And I have my hair cut by Dominick at Frédéric Fekkai. He’s the best; clients fly him round the world for a haircut. Complete Wellness, 30 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-737 9000; www.completewellnessnyc.com). Erika Bloom Pilates, 14 E 60th Street, New York (www.erikabloompilates.com). Equinox, 250 E 54th St, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-774 6363; www.equinox.com). Frédéric Fekkai, 712 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10019 (+1212-753 9500; www.fekkai.com).

The site that inspires me is the Palais du Louvre; it really does it for me. The architecture, the ironwork of the balconies, the terraces, the grandeur and the gardens of the Tuileries. I prefer it to Versailles and never tire of looking at it. www.louvre.fr.


If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an architect, without a doubt. Probably a modernist, utilising very noble materials but with a strong classical influence to marry the best of both worlds. I’d love to come up with something original to stamp my mark on the world. It’s what I try to do with jewellery.

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