The Couturier With Very Good Taste

Paris’ Alexis Mabille has turned his hand to the interior of Caviar Kaspia’s L.A. outpost, sure to be the city’s most exclusive new hangout



Couturier Alexis Mabille.


Few establishments provoke a frozen-in-time allure like the restaurant Caviar Kaspia—a bastion of Parisian nightlife culture that unites close to a century of Baltic fine dining with a hedonistic approach to after-hours entertaining. Witness to the ebb and flow of new aristocracies, haute bourgeoisie and glitterati since 1927, this veritable institution is renowned the world over for a suite of unmistakable signatures, from the cerulean blue tablecloths to the sparkling chalices of flavored vodka on ice, not to mention that caviar-laden baked potato.

Tucked away above its very own caviar emporium on the Place de la Madeleine, a stone’s throw from the Élysée Palace and the historic Hermès store on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, one of Paris’ most exclusive shopping streets, Caviar Kaspia harbors a singular magnetism—one that the French couturier and interior decorator Alexis Mabille discovered years ago. “I first went to Caviar Kaspia when I was working at Christian Dior for John Galliano,” he recalls as he unveils his architectural vision for the restaurant’s first West Coast outpost opening on Melrose Place in Los Angeles this fall. “Eva Herzigová and her agent, Véronique Rampazzo, were celebrating the Orthodox New Year there with a group of friends, models, and I came along. It’s become an annual rendezvous,” he says. “At the time, it really fascinated me that in the same evening you might see Karl Lagerfeld or Lee Radziwill dining, and at another table some very popular French actors, rappers or the nouveau riche.”


The signature blue table linens.


Mabille learned to sew for fun as a boy growing up in Lyon. While at school he would design clothes for his friends and family and even made boxer shorts for his fellow students. Once he had completed his formal training at Paris’ Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, he cut his teeth at Ungaro and Nina Ricci before joining Dior, with Galliano taking him under his wing and entrusting him with accessories collections. It was under the British designer’s tutelage—and while he was simultaneously working for Hedi Slimane—that Mabille started to forge an idea for his own ultra-feminine brand of Paris haute couture, which he started in 2005 and showed for the first time at Haute Couture three years later.

The resplendent satin bows, plissé silks and rich, jewel-tone gowns you see today on the likes of Zendaya and Katy Perry fit the effervescent glamour of Caviar Kaspia to a T. In fact, it doesn’t take much imagination to see his swan-like clientele pushing smoked salmon blinis around a porcelain plate or cradling flutes of Dom Pérignon in their bejeweled, manicured hands, perfectly at home in the restaurant’s decadent decor of striped banquets and wood paneling.


From left: Katy Perry at the 2018 amfAR Gala in L.A. Zendaya at the 2019 Vanity Fair and Lancôme Toast Women in Hollywood party.


The Fall/Winter 2022/2023 couture collection shown in Paris in July.


“The idea is to integrate Caviar Kaspia in L.A. as if we were in Hollywood in the 1940s”

Alexis Mabille


A confessed “workaholic,” Mabille expanded into interiors and was asked by the Caviar Kaspia Group to refresh its Maison de la Truffe in Paris. And now he has once again joined forces with CEO Ramon Mac-Crohon, together with Kith co-founder Sam Ben-Avraham and former Iro exec Rahav Zuta, to transform 8475 Melrose Place, the space that once held the iconic restaurant Bastide, into a Caviar Kaspia. The location combines the restaurant’s intimate, heritage connoisseurship with a boutique for local designer Maor Cohen’s upscale fine jewelry label M.Cohen (featuring interiors by Cohen). Joining new openings in London, St. Tropez and New York, Caviar Kaspia’s L.A. branch is sure to manifest its own notoriety in no time, with its seductive taste of Europe a decadent alternative to the city’s exclusive hot spots such as Mr Chow and San Vicente Bungalows.


Renderings of Caviar Kaspia L.A.


“For Melrose Place, the idea is to preserve the traditions of Caviar Kaspia but to integrate it in L.A. as if we were in Hollywood in the 1940s—and to do it with extremely refined artisans,” says Mabille, whose touch extends through the restaurant’s lush garden courtyard and inside to the dining room for 60. “It’s a more minimal vision of Kaspia than in Paris. Imagine lots of vegetation and sun umbrellas, marble lanterns and fabrics everywhere in Kaspia blue, but with harmonious accents in soft blues and teal.” Entering through an arched doorway and past the garden, guests are welcomed inside through a transitory loggia space—bringing the inside outside and vice versa with the internal focal point a magnificent green marble-topped wraparound bar inlaid with oxidized and polished brass and wood paneling. Pointedly avoiding literal translations of its Parisian namesake, Mabille has opted for more isolated moments of historic grandeur, such as a round mosaic wall piece by the bar that reprises the famous sturgeon and square rigger motif of the original nearly 6,000 miles away.

Imagining the restaurant as a multifunctional space for day and night, summer and winter, Mabille’s deconstructed concept includes a sort of “caviar lounge” with plush sofas surrounding a fireplace, allowing guests to experience an after-hours club atmosphere for those L.A. nights when a formal dinner feels just a little stiff. While a second courtyard can be cordoned off with a discreet curtain and booked for private rooms (Oscars after-party, anyone?), the general premise is a sinuous space joined by travertine floors that allow guests to transition from bar to lounge to dining room. “As it’s on the ground floor and a half-level up, it really feels like a sort of house and garden,” says Mabille, “So there is a feeling of being outside all the time in this place with a very fresh vibe.”


The Mabille-designed dining room at Le Boeuf sur le Toit in Paris.


Keen not to create any first-degree associations between his burgeoning interiors business and his well-established fashion aesthetic, Mabille approaches Caviar Kaspia retaining his own sense of frivolity but with a restrained, Art Deco polish that favors California cool over any hint of Parisian kitsch. “Personally I’ve always designed to echo a lifestyle, so whether it’s a dress, a piece of furniture or an interior, it has to all live together,” he muses, citing Ralph Lauren’s coherent universe as an inspiration for the way people and clothes can exist in harmony with a space without mirroring it entirely. “My clients have traveled all around the world and I’ve had the opportunity to see incredible places with them, and now I am interested in imagining those spaces too. Of course, through fashion I have honed my appetite for textiles and color, but also construction and geometry and how a volume can evoke a certain mood.”

Design aside, Mabille knows better than most that Caviar Kaspia’s charm is its people, and its people-watching too. “The staff are like a little black book,” he laughs. “No matter where you are in the world, at a Caviar Kaspia restaurant, you can be sure that you will see interesting people. The staff are so talented they will know how to seat an infamous couple at just the right table, or perhaps Rihanna nearby a Chanel Haute Couture client or a serious business dinner. It’s that composition of the clients and the staff that creates a special twist and a unique ambience next to what is essentially a very classic, luxurious concept.”



Feature image: The designer takes a bow for the finale of the Fall/Winter 2022/2023 couture show. 


This story originally appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of C Magazine.

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