Zoë and Olivier de Givenchy’s home is a welcoming West Coast paradise
Words by PUNCH HUTTON
Photography by SAM FROST
Charming, pedigreed and unmistakably stylish, Zoë and Olivier de Givenchy are the embodiment of the expat fairy tale. Fittingly, the couple has landed in the Trousdale Estates, an exclusive pocket of paradise perched at the highest point in Beverly Hills, renowned for its trove of midcentury modern masterpieces designed by pre-eminent architects such as Wallace Neff, Cliff May, A. Quincy Jones and Paul Williams, and for its high-profile residents, who reportedly include LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault and French photographer and fashion designer Hedi Slimane, among others.
The couple purchased their stunning 1961 Harold Levitt home four years ago. “I wanted a house that was relevant to its environment,” says Zoë, radiant in a floral Emilia Wickstead dress, when we meet for tea and a tour of the residence. Statuesque, with dark hair and green eyes, Zoë is a native of Melbourne, Australia, and worked as an executive in public relations and brand management at Credit Suisse before leaving to set up her own consulting firm. She was living in London when she met her husband.
The two were introduced in 2008 at the wedding of their mutual friend William Cash, a publisher and a member of British Parliament. “From the moment I saw her I could not take my eyes off her,” recalls Olivier, who works in finance yet comes from a long line of illustrious artists and aristocrats, including his uncle, the beloved, inimitable grand couturier, Hubert de Givenchy. “I jumped in her cab and followed her to Annabel’s, and we danced all night, closing every club in London.”
Olivier was CEO of J.P. Morgan Private Bank in the U.K. when he was offered the opportunity to grow the bank’s western region of the United States. “A move to sunny L.A. with a growing young family and a chance to expand the business was an exciting challenge,” he explains. It was an offer the two couldn’t refuse. “We were ready for an adventure,” says Zoë. “L.A. is completely different from the city I used to visit as a child,” she adds. “The story now is all about the cultural renaissance.”
The boundaries of indoor-outdoor living are blurred as Zoë leads the way through the light-flooded living room out to the pool. In the garden, there are orange and lemon trees, and ruby-throated hummingbirds buzz near the birds-of-paradise.
But really, it’s all about the view. For as far as the eye can see, the panorama of Los Angeles and beyond—the city skyline, the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island, the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu—is laid out in breathtaking clarity.
Back inside, works by artists such as Henri Matisse, Robert Courtright and Huang Rui line the walls, along with selections from a treasured collection of collages assembled by Olivier’s godfather, Philippe Venet, and Uncle Hubert. Floral arrangements and coffee-table books—including The Givenchy Style and Tom Scheerer Decorates, which features the couple’s Bahamian home, The Banyans—are in abundance. Graphic, ornamental walnut screens, designed by Olivier and crafted by L.A. furniture designer Alex Deutschman, give definition to wide-open spaces. In the library, bookshelves are peppered with heirlooms and framed photographs, including one of the couple dancing barefoot on a beach at their wedding on Harbour Island in the Bahamas in 2011. There are two stunning portraits, painted by U.K. artist Julia London, of the couple’s children, Louis, 5, and Inès, 2. “She is the first Givenchy to be born in California,” says Zoë of her little “blond dolly.” Olivier also has two children from his first marriage; daughter Gabriella is a jewelry editor at W Magazine in New York City, and his son Nicolas is an undergraduate student at University of Southern California.
A collection of iconic Givenchy perfumes—Olivier’s late father served as director of the family’s fragrance and cosmetics empire—takes pride of place in the powder room, where a medieval Madonna, reclaimed from a Spanish church, and a series of crosses sit on the counter.
The custom, open-layout Bulthaup kitchen, with its expansive stainless steel island, is where they often prepare meals using Givenchy family recipes, including those culled from Hubert’s personal cookbook. Sunday nights are reserved for family dinners, for which Olivier makes his French-style roast chicken, ratatouille and sautéed rice pilaf with foie gras.
“We love to entertain,” says Zoë, citing Easter egg hunts, a Halloween monster mash, and La Fête de Rois (the Feast of Kings), a French celebration beloved for the traditional pastries that are served. Dinner parties at the de Givenchy residence—such as the one they hosted with interior designer Nathan Turner for their mutual friend India Hicks—are coveted invitations. “We set up here,” Zoë says, gesturing toward a gorgeous 9-foot round walnut dining room table, which she designed to complement the glass-walled square dining room. “And I love to do the flowers,” says Zoë, who is besotted with the flower markets downtown. “But if I run out of time, I call Eric [Buterbaugh].”
From the master bedroom, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, you can see planes taking off over the ocean. It’s an apropos scene for the international couple, who spend summers abroad in London and Monaco and visit Le Jonchet, the family chateau outside of Paris, throughout the year. From their L.A. vantage point, you feel at once connected and removed from the city below. “A life above it all” is what Paul Trousdale promised residents of the neighborhood he developed, after having purchased the land from the Doheny family in 1954. “There’s that Frank Lloyd Wright quote, ‘Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles,’” says Zoë. “I’m not sure exactly what it all means,” she admits. “But L.A. and the people here have been so wonderful and welcoming.”
This story originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of C Magazine.
Discover more DESIGN news.