In the hyper-attenuated world that is New York City – there is the drumbeat of au courant, the zeitgeist – the breathless, relentless, never-ending excitement of lifestyle-defining artisans and their creations.
And then there is that blissful reminder that a true style icon is among us.
Its artisans and designers have been a leading lifestyle arbiter of taste for oh – 250 years.
Most Americans can hardly conceive of a recognizable, classic brand that has endured for nearly 300 years -- or before this country toasted our Revolution.
So it’s no small invitation to ignore when this Examiner received an invitation to preview their newly renovated space and flagship store in Manhattan whilst nibbling hors d’oueveres and sipping frequent champagne partner: Ruinart Champagne (together these two old-guard French artists – Ruinart is the oldest champagne house - sponsor events at The New York Botanical Garden.)
While the initial, interest in Baccarat for this Examiner’s column was the “unmatched craftsmanship and exceptional design” of their extraordinary vessels to embrace and showcase drinks from champagne to wine to water…
It was a delightful discovery to learn so much more about this hallowed French luxury brand.
The company proudly notes it’s a leader in “high-end and exclusive crystal products since its founding in 1764.”
Puts all the hyper, brand-centric, can’t wait to be the “it” and “go-to” wanna-be’s in check.
Visit the new Madison Avenue location for several reasons: mainly to understand and appreciate what artisanal craftsmanship is all about.
And to take home what will sure to be a treasured work of crystal art; build a personal collection.
The Rafael de Cárdenas-designed architecture and décor at the new Baccarat store is not unlike a museum but friendly and more readily “digestible.”
And the company knows a thing or two about museums – they have two of their own: the Musée Baccarat in Baccarat, Meurthe-et-Moselle and the Galerie-Musée Baccarat, on the Place des États-Unis in Paris.
Jaime Jiménez, Director, Marketing & Communications, is the very knowledgeable and gracious Baccarat executive who explained how the street level store at 60th Street and the interior design was undertaken in order to make their outreach so much more customer-friendly.
Here, Baccarat entices passerby’s to enter and discover a world apart. They refer to it as an “experiential destination.”
The new interior design features more or less five Baccarat rooms filled with the luxury designer’s handcrafted crystal collections:
· Jewelry Bar
· Dining Room
· Lighting Room
What no one can miss is the heart-clutching Baccarat chandelier collection at the front of the store.
Think of the dazzling chandeliers as “Table Tiaras.”
If you can take your gaze away from the crystals that shine like stars, the Icon Wall beckons. The Wall’s Nordic black granite is a dramatic showcase or backdrop for Baccarat art including glass sculpture.
The $75,000.00 Elephant is this year’s 2013-featured work of art.
It’s a truly glamorous pachyderm no maharaja could resist.
It’s an astonishing example of the company’s passion for artistic excellence. They can boast they have the highest concentration of the Best Craftsmen in France: Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (Best French Craftsmen),
Further this “Hero Wall” of design as Jiménez refers to it, changes every month – so visit frequently for inspiration and awe.
The Jewelry Bar sparkles with nature and architecture-inspired creations from in-house designer and Eli Topp, accessory designer for Lanvin.
The Flower Collection and crystal butterflies and the Baccarat Zoo Collection are particularly alluring.
In the highly polished, glimmering silver and grey Dining Room – lit by two sexy Mille Nuits chandeliers – are Baccarat’s stemware and barware.
While not all of the French luxury designs are on display – they create approximately 175 products - from table accessories to decanters to martini glasses to toasting glasses, bowls and pitchers -- http://us.baccarat.com/bar-tableware/bar-tableware,en_US,sc.html?pageview=list)
the curated collection includes the Masséna Stemware and the Harmonie Barware.
The Masséna Stemware features “Deep orgue bevel cuts are etched directly into the clear crystal, irradiating from the foot of the glass to the base of the wide bowl.”
Of note is the Baccarat Harcourt service. It was pointed out to this Examiner by Jiménez that the stemware was created in 1825 for the Duke of Harcourt and then commissioned by King Louis-Philippe in 1841.
Nice to have so much history on the dining table. And a nice conversation starter, too, no?
And who wouldn’t love plunking a few ice cubes into The Harmonie Happy Hours” glass for Cocktail Hour? The collection is notable for its “streamlined lean form, like a clear crystal column.”
Baccarat’s “famous flat facet cut magnifies the light in crystal.”
Therefore the stemware and barware and dining glass collections capture more light and shine with romance and elegance in both candlelight and daylight.
Fantasy Baccarat tablescape?
Anything with the red or pink color in the glass mixed and matched with the Masséna stemware.
Baccarat was after all, the first to create colored crystal.
And their gold ruby red is a hallmark design element in pieces from their chandeliers to the stemware.
Better still: Baccarat is presenting a new edition of the royal Harcourt 1841 Louis Philippe Glass, with its “six elegant flat cuts accented by a regal red crystal.”
This would look fabulous at the Holiday dinner table or Valentine’s Day or Independence Day or…
Accent with a few elegant, seasonal floral displays, twinkling candles, and the family china and it’s photo opp memory creation featuring exquisite crystal art.
True “Performance Art” don’t you agree?
The black crystal stemware from the Harcourt 1841 Collection is also a black bling fantasy of mystery and seduction. Pair it with a Philip Starck Baccarat black chandelier and The Harcourt Abysse $6,000-plus caviar set, created for Baccarat by Thomas Bastide in a ‘30s-era design, and channel Truman Capote’s famous Black & White Ball.
It’s so French to design with wine in mind:
Research shows Baccarat doesn’t just create dramatic crystal art to admire but the company has long collaborated with winemakers and vineyards to create stemware that harmonizes with the nectar of the gods.
Here are three key considerations they utilize to fashion the glass and to bear in mind when selecting stemware for a gift, bridal registry or home use:
Rounded angle and wide base: For the wine to move horizontally without the alcohol climbing up the inner walls of the glass, the wide base and the rounded angle of the bowl protect the subtle aromas from the sting of oxidation. Gently, without coarseness, the wine consequently preserves its aromatic structure.
Sloped Bowl: For the aromatic range to fully express itself, the sloped bowl allows the alcohol—a volatile liquid—to condense, thus leaving the richness of the bouquet to fill up the glass as the wine is swiveled.
Narrow apperture: To restore the unity of the wine’s composition, the narrow aperture brings the aromas back together, and also feels very comfortable against the lips.
And the perfect hostess gift from The Big Apple are the Baccarat white and red crystal apples at a modest price of $100.
The store also features whimsical and affordable jewelry if one’s budget and to-do list doesn’t include the chandelier or the Elephant.
635 Madison Avenue