A French Home That Whispers Unfashionable Chic

A French Home That Whispers Unfashionable Chic

Barbara Boccara, whose knack for translating casual French style into marketable looks is well known to international fashion watchers, is wearing jeans, an olive-green hoodie with jeweled buttons at the shoulder and soot-black eye makeup as she gives a Zoom tour of her new home in Paris. The apartment, on one of the broad avenues radiating from the Arc de Triomphe, is a five-minute walk from Boccara’s office at Ba&sh (rhymes with “posh”), the French fashion label she founded in 2003 with Sharon Krief, her best friend then and now. 

“Ba&sh is a very colorful, happy brand,” Boccara says as she spins through the airy arrangement of rooms spread across just over 3,000 square feet, with treetop views. “But I need serenity with my family. This color is not fashion,” she notes of a not-quite-taupe, not-quite-grey bedroom. “My apartment is not fashion. Do you think it’s fashion?”

Earlier in the day, Boccara, who is 51, had gathered the Ba&sh design team here to work on a new collection, one of four the brand produces each year (every season is sold online and further spliced into several merchandise drops as dictated by retail location). On the kitchen counter, some French-girl flair is visible in a vase overflowing with cherry blossoms. But otherwise, Boccara’s chosen palette would make a flock of sparrows feel at home. The apartment’s walls and furniture are cirrus-cloud white, and its honed sandstone kitchen is the color of dry leaves. Oak floors—wide-plank, distressed, brushed, stained, oiled—resemble a silty river bottom. 

In 2018, when she settled on the place, she concluded that it wasn’t in terrible condition, but it lacked an identity. So Boccara did what her customers often do: She went on Pinterest . There she spotted a house with exactly “the style of material, of color, of touch” that she wanted, she says. It was on the Côte d’Azur, though its strict cubic volumes and cement surfaces might as well have been on Omaha Beach. Designed by Belgian architect Nicolas Schuybroek, the seaside getaway had racked up likes among #minimalism followers across social media, where projects by John Pawson, Joseph Dirand, Studio KO and Vincent van Duysen, Schuybroek’s mentor and fellow countryman, had already set the tone. 

Boccara looked Schuybroek up online and introduced herself. “When I called him, I fell in love,” Boccara says. “He’s so humble; he’s so nice. He listens to you.” The last quality was critical, she says. Schuybroek already knew Ba&sh; he’d seen the black-and-white shopping bags show up in his cozy Brussels townhouse on the arm of his wife. And although Boccara had navigated a few prior renovations without hiring an architect, this time it felt essential—and yet she wasn’t ready to give anyone carte blanche. “I am a stylist also. I have my opinions,” she says. “I am also very busy; he is very busy. He lives in Belgium; I live in Paris. So I need to feel some very good feelings with my architect.”

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