And the Ritz Magic Goes on!!
Fashion world leaders concerning the rightful return to business of the industry’s most celebrated building.
Walt Disney used to say “anything you dream you can accomplish”. This must have been the driver thought for Cesar Ritz throughout his successful life as the it hotelier. Born the 13th son to a peasant family in Switzerland, Ritz dreamed of becoming the master of hospitality. And after several unsuccessful attempts he saw triumph in 1872 at age 22 when he was appointed floor waiter at the lavish Hotel Splendide in Paris. That was the lightning rod for his career as hotel manager.
Indeed, by 1873 he was reigning supreme at the Grand Hotel in Nice. By 1878 he was managing the Grand Hotel National in Lucerne and the Grand Hotel in Monaco. With his emphasis on client services and the coterie of wealthy clients that lodged in those hotels, Ritz developed a reputation as the most effective and elegant hotel manager in Europe. His good taste was commented in society chit-chats but also in newspaper gossip columns. After a successful stint at London’s Savoy in 1889 he started what was to become his greatest creation: The Ritz Hotels. First in line was the townhouse of Place Vendome that would later become the star of the Ritz Syndicate and that opened its doors to expectant clients in 1896.
Knowing the secrets of customer satisfaction, he became a great innovator. Rooms in his flagship Place Vendome Hotel were furnished with bathrooms, electricity and telephones. Decoration proved to be inviting but not intimidating and so tasteful as to attract the Prince of Wales to Paris for longer stays than those counselled by wisdom. And when Ritz thought he had achieved his dream of becoming a brand, fate delivered yet another success.
Intellectual icons for the Belle Époque chose the Ritz as their residence. With Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway either residing or getting dipsy at the Ritz, the majestic premise became a legend. And legends attract stars. Audrey Hepburn the great empress of elegance and style chose the Ritz as back drop to three of her most celebrated films. Ms Hepburn made the exquisite creations by Huber de Givenchy known to a world that was ready to dream after coming out of WWII.
Soon there was no elegant woman in the word that would not dream of having her outfits designed by the great French houses such as Chanel; Balenciaga, Givenchy, Dior and Schiaparelli. But destiny was reserving yet another triumph to Ritz’s brainchild. Mademoiselle Chanel chose to fill her solitaire years by means of making the Ritz her home. For 35 years she enriched the Ritz ambiance with her presence while spreading her special magic in every corner of the 18th century mansion. And behind Chanel came the fashion industry which chose the Ritz as its landmark destination. No executive, publisher, or TV personality from fashion would exist if a room at the Ritz could not be secured for fashion week in Paris. The Ritz and fashion became synonyms.
But as the information age slowly but surely took the world economy over, even the Ritz needed an ‘aggiornamento’. In 2012 the venerable building closed in order to be refurnished. And after four long years when celebrities of all kinds including Anna Wintour, Donatella Versace, Elton John, Victoria Beckham. Ivanka Trump, Carolina Herrera and Ralph Lauren could not find themselves at ease in alternative lodging arrangements, the Ritz has opened its doors again fully remodeled and as Ms Wintour indicated “So often, when a hotel is renovated, its spirit is destroyed and it becomes bland and corporate. At the Ritz they have taken what was historic and charming about the interior and improved on it,”. This was the Go signal for fashion world leaders concerning the rightful return to business of the industry’s most celebrated building.