Le Style Safra

So Empress Bianca is now on her fourth husband and they have just moved to New York where she is determined to climb her way to the loftiest heights of high society. Her first step is to acquire a twenty-four room duplex on Fifth Avenue in one of the best buildings. She then picks up one of the sharpest weapons in her arsenal , decorator Valerian Rybar, with whom she forms "one of the most compelling relationships of her life." Besides providing Bianca with a suitably opulent backdrop from which to realize her social ambitions, Valerian gives her the skinny on everyone worth knowing and all the things they did to become so.

Naturally, my curiosity was aroused as to who was the Valerian Rybar to Lily Safra, the alleged real-life Bianca. The answer is Howard Slatkin about whom I know very little, except that he is very exclusive, very discreet, and has impeccable taste (and that his brother Harry has a scented candle line).

Below are several rooms he did for the Safras in various residences - all photographed by Fitz von der Schulenberg for the Sotheby's 2005 sales catalogue of the property of Lily and her late husband Edmond J. Safra.

This room looks as if one were meant to just pass through. It seems a bit cold, but the pair of side tables were too fantastic to not show you.

I initially found the dining room wall color a surprising choice, but by candlelight it probably glows. Billy Baldwin loved brown walls for entertaining as they are warm and flattering.

Although it is all undoubtedly exquisite, I prefer more color and a little less perfection - what do you think?