Marc Valeanu is one of the fashion world’s ultimate insiders. He’s not yet a household name, but the luxury brands he works for as a freelance handbags and accessories creative director—Thom Browne, Lemaire, and Delvaux to name a few—certainly are. And though he travels constantly for work, Valeanu was born and raised in Paris—the grandchild of Romanian and Italian immigrants—and the French capital is still the place he calls home. “I grew up very near to where I live now,” he says. “I am a child of the eighth arrondissement.”
Lately, Valeanu has expanded the breadth of his talents to home interiors. “Fashion is not everything,” he says. “For me, what I do is an expression of taste—not good or bad, just mine.” The apartment he designed for himself in a Haussmannian building in Paris, a space of joyful color explosions, filled with idiosyncratic art pieces and furniture, proves that branching out was a great idea.
Speaking of his new home, Valeanu says, “I was searching for a place where I could work, draw, and dream. I had lived in various corners of Paris before, but fate brought me back to the neighborhood of my childhood.” He bought the apartment in early 2019 from a couple of antiques dealers. He recalls the space being packed full of furniture, ephemera, and “things,” a sight that he found endearing. “Their story moved me, and I felt a deep connection to their presence in this space,” he says.
But since moving in, he’s made it his own. It’s where he lives and works: a place to “draw and dream” as he puts it. The original floor plan was also to his liking, so despite extensive renovations, Valeanu kept the layout the same. One aspect he appreciated was that the front door leads directly into the kitchen, which in turn opens onto a dining room that is defined by an ebullient yellow table and a fire-engine-red mirror he picked up at the flea market. For Valeanu, the kitchen is among the most important rooms in the home. With its round 19th-century wooden table and subdued color scheme, it’s where he feels most comfortable drawing and conducting meetings. “All the big decisions take place in the kitchen,” he says.
In decorating the apartment, he first sought to restore it to how it might have looked originally, while adding elements like hand-painted tiles from Sicily. He brought in some furniture and lighting from his previous homes and commissioned new custom pieces. In the entrance are two Pierre Marie–designed pink sconces inspired by poppies. Pierre Marie also designed the three rugs that anchor the library, main salon, and dining room. Throughout, there are original works by French designers and artists such as Olivier Gagnère, Christian Astuguevieille, Victor Levai, and Valeanu’s best friend, Marie Victoire de Bascher.
The three main areas serve as one large space for entertaining. One group can sit around the dining room table for coffee while others hang out in the main salon. The little library in the back, which features a 1960s Italian bookshelf, is more private, and this is where Valeanu likes to read and take naps. A long corridor leads to a guest room, dressing room, and the primary bedroom and bath.
Valeanu is an avid collector of pieces by Elizabeth Garouste and Mattia Bonetti from the 1980s and ’90s, like the armchairs and quirky chandelier in the salon. His love of the Paris design duo’s work—and interior design as an art form—can be traced back to when he was 14, working as an intern for fashion designer Christian Lacroix. The couturier’s atelier was a smorgasbord of Garouste & Bonetti’s romantic and kooky works, which would seem fitting, considering Lacroix’s own chicly outré clothes. “I was so young, but these wonderful pieces of pure fantasy stayed with me,” Valeanu says.
Decorating his own apartment was not merely a flirtation for Valeanu. He is currently working on the interiors of his own office in Paris, as well as a furniture collection for Berluti that will launch during the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan in April 2024. If his apartment isn’t a perfect predictor of the direction he’ll be taking with his designs, perhaps his words are. “Objects have souls,” Valeanu says. “And I’m especially attracted to ones that give off good vibes.”
This story originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE