Every fashion-wise man, woman or child who knows about Guess? Jeans (and don't they all?) probably imagines that Georges Marciano, the apparel's creator, is the ultimate contemporary man--a man who lives a life as modern and dis- tinctive as the clothing he designs. But upon entering Marciano's home, one immediately gets a glimpse of the real Marciano--an incurable ro- mantic, a lover of antiques and bucolic 19th-Century paintings, a man who has no intention of forgetting his French roots (Marseilles was his home until he moved to the United States four years ago), as his love of country French fabrics and furnishings proves.
In the 3 1/2 years that Georges Marciano has resided in Los Angeles, he has made quite a name for himself worldwide, virtually revolutionizing the jeans and casual-clothing business. "People who know me through my clothing designs will be surprised to see that my home looks so conservative," Marciano says. "In Los Angeles, I first lived in a condominium that was decorated in a beautiful, but contemporary, manner. Then, when I found this house, I wanted a traditional approach to decorating. One that respected the flavor of the house itself."
Marciano admits that he looked at more than 200 houses in his quest but that he seemed to be drawn back to the one shown here. "I loved the way it looked from the front--somewhat Mediterranean with a Spanish flavor, reminding me of the south of France. And the vines growing on the front of the house really give it a special charm. It would take a half a century to grow such lush vines and beautiful trees like these. You cannot buy a new house such as this one. Although I originally loved its proportions inside and out, it needed a lot of work to bring it to its present condition."
Here is where interior designers Craig Milne and Judith Brustman of Design Team came in. Having designed Marciano's former condominium, his showrooms and his chic Beverly Hills children's boutique, Baby Guess?, Milne and Brustman were familiar with Mar- ciano's taste, likes and dislikes. "Everything in this 1920s vintage house sorely needed redoing," Milne says. "And the guest house (shown on today's cover) had been merely a greenhouse of sorts. It was torn down and the structure rebuilt. But to show you what a stickler for detail Georges is, he didn't want new terra-cotta roof tiles used, so we had to scout around to find used tiles so the new roof would blend with the rest of the house."
A great deal of work went into the remodeling of the kitchen, which had been a long, skinny room. Milne and Brustman pushed out exterior walls to create an eating area. The only thing remaining from the old kitchen is the above-sink window. Everything else is new--cooking island, cabinetry, tile floor, countertops and appliances. And, Marciano insisted on the country French flavor of the Pierre Deux fabrics for curtains and seat cushions.
Like the rest of the house before its transformation, the family room / sun room was dark and dismal. The de- signers lightened the paneling, sanded and bleached the floors, redesigned the fireplace and filled it with oversized wicker furniture from the Kreiss Collection. The furniture is upholstered in a striped cotton fabric that appears as though it came from the Guess? inventory.
This is the room that looks most like the fashion image Georges Marciano conveys through his clothing, and this is the room that is the least like the real Georges. "Craig reminded me that I needed to have at least one room that is light and sunny in feeling. After all, I do live in California, not 19th-Century France. This is the room where I really relax. If I want something more romantic or formal, I go into another room."
The home's most formal area is the living room with its dark beams and paneling and white walls. The large sofas are upholstered in a fabric by Stroheim and Roman, also used for draperies. (Marciano had the display cases built to house his collection of Victorian frames and English silver.)
All over the house are 19th-Century paintings, most of them by French painter Lhermitte. "I love farm scenes, especially those of Lhermitte. My dream is to have lived during that time--around the turn of the century. I don't buy paintings as an investment. I buy them for the pleasure of my heart."
Marciano has not always lived in such luxury. "I learned about fashion in the streets," he says. "I still study people on the street and guess what they might buy."
Marciano grew up in Marseilles, spending about three or four years as a hairdresser before becoming a salesman in a boutique. He then bought a small boutique in Marseilles, eventually expanding his operation to 10 boutiques in France. It was then that Marciano began designing and manufacturing clothing for his own shops.