PATRONIZED BY PARK AVENUE dauphines, glossy-magazine editors and anyone else with poker-straight hair who might have figured in Bergdorf Blondes, BG is perhaps the most glamorous new restaurant in New York City. Aside from its fastidiously groomed regulars, who flock daily to Bergdorf Goodman's seventh-floor aerie, much of that glamour is derived from its sumptuous interiors. The walls are adorned with dazzling de Gournay chinoiserie wallpaper. The luxe furniture includes reproductions of 18th century egg-shaped canopy chairs, while the color palette spans robin's egg blue, chartreuse and gilt. Add staggering Central Park views, and it's not hard to see BG's genteel appeal.
BG was hatched by Los Angeles--based interior designer Kelly Wearstler. Best known as the gimlet eye behind such hip hotels as the Viceroy Santa Monica and colorful stores like Trina Turk in Palm Springs, Calif., Wearstler is the queen of Hollywood Regency, a decorating style that blends French Regency, Greek Revival and classic Hollywood. Wearstler's zingy oeuvre is at the forefront of what could be called haute femme, a taste for ornamentation and romanticism that is emerging as a major new trend in commercial and residential design.
"I like things that are rich and heavy and that make a statement," says Wearstler, who is applying her bold imprimatur to four new Viceroys, including one in the Caribbean and one in Mexico, scheduled to open in two to three years.
Wearstler is not alone in her taste for high drama. A decadent spirit of retro eclecticism is in the air—blame it on Marie Antoinette, or perhaps on Sofia Coppola's fall biopic starring Kirsten Dunst as the famous French voluptuary. Philippe Starck may have ignited it years ago with his transparent Louis Ghost chair, but the yen for playful baroque design is finding other outlets, especially retail venues. Haute femme is an antidote to sleek Modernism, somber Minimalism and the kind of unbridled multiculturalism that juxtaposes a Chinese wedding cabinet, a Moroccan rug and a Balinese vessel. Says Wid Chapman, a professor of interior design at Parsons School of Design: "There is a trend away from colder, contemporary environments to something that's a little bit more plush, warm and eclectic."
The Paris Apartment, opened last October in New York City's East Village to fill such a need, is a clotted repository of ornate French-style furniture like rococo mirrors, mirrored vanities and tiara chandeliers. "Women are looking for more personal expression in the way they decorate than that offered by Pottery Barn," says owner Claudia Strasser. In her purview, four walls can become anything from a beach retreat to Versailles.
Empirical evidence suggests that more fashion companies are exploring their haute-femme side. Sass & Bide's new flagship store in Sydney utilizes a boudoir aesthetic to sell its sexy jeans and flirty dresses, as does Coco Ribbon in London, which stocks armoires, chaises longues and flamboyant mirrors alongside satin slippers and silk lingerie. For her stores in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles, designer Tory Burch added mirrored walls, plush sofas and bright colors that recall her own cozy apartment. Meanwhile, Anthropologie's new home collection Chateau offers such whimsical items as floral-print lounge chairs, shell-encrusted chandeliers and beaded velvet curtains.