“Inside author & social queen Cécile David-Weill’s three-level penthouse”
By Royal Young — The New York Post, February 26, 2013
“When I walked into the lobby, it was like Tutankhamen’s tomb,” French society fixture and accomplished author Cécile David-Weill says and laughs.
David-Weill was born in New York, then lived in Paris and Hong Kong before settling in her three-level penthouse in a historic Upper West Side building. The 2,082-square-foot, two-bedroom, three-bathroom roost is perfect for her entertaining and working needs.
… the elevator opens onto David-Weill’s living room, which consumes most of her second floor. Yet upon entering, one also glimpses hints of the other levels. A stairway leads down to the bedrooms, while another leads up to David-Weill’s working space and wraparound terrace.
… David-Weill has moved around most of her life, but New York has her heart. She has lived and worked in the bustling city for three years, writing a column for premier French news magazine Le Point.
Cécile David-Weill lives in elegant luxury on all three floors of her historic penthouse. Both bedrooms on the lower level have king-size beds and photos of clasped hands; her desk looks out at the third-floor terrace; a Buddha adds Zen to the second-floor dining room.
“I’m crazy about the Upper West Side, it doesn’t have a definite feeling. You don’t have to be young like when you’re downtown, or edgy like when you’re in Brooklyn, you can be anything,” she says.
David-Weill has made a career out of this uncanny sense of the city. She loves writing about things that shock Parisians: NYC’s huge inflatable rats, laundromats, subways.
Her living room, with original works by Picasso and Larry Rivers, a fireplace and wood-paneled walls, is where she hosts fabulous fetes. “It’s always a mix — New Yorkers, South Americans, Europeans, people from fashion and the literary life. And it’s relaxed. The people I have [over] are used to more formal parties with tuxedos or charity balls, but this is more laid back. So they’re like, ‘Wow!’ ”
Indeed, there are no rigid floor plans or modes of etiquette in the apartment. “I feel between the sky and the streets. I’m floating. The living room is very reminiscent of my European life. The wooden panels are traditional and charming. But also old-fashioned. There, I entertain and on that couch I feel like the king of the world. I’m reigning over my domain.”
David-Weill’s latest satirical novel, “The Suitors,” from Other Press, released yesterday, is all about class and how it impacts lives. Her guest list at a celebration luncheon for her book at MoMA’s The Modern included Isaac Mizrahi, Anh Duong, Laurence Heilbronn, Charlotte Sarkozy, Jane Holzer, Ina Garten and Hamish Bowles. Her home bashes can be just as glam and hectic. “It’s funny, my book is all about manners, but I don’t know how to do plates at the dinner table,” she quips.
David-Weill’s two bedrooms are down a stairway, tucked away on the bottom floor. These plush boudoirs are intimate and artistic, while still being welcoming. They are flanked by small terraces, in Parisian fashion.
An expert at seating arrangements, David-Weill is charmingly lost when it comes to place settings. “I have this thing about plates. I had 40 people coming over. And I forgot plates, so my old-fashioned butler, in a very condescending way, told me, ‘Madam, never forget the plates.’ But I’m French, so I only speak in centimeters, and once I ended up with bread plates for a big buffet.”
The art-filled living room features a Larry Rivers painting, one of the pieces that delights guests at David-Weill’s elegant parties.
Flanked by blue china vases, an original Picasso is suspended over David-Weill’s mantel. In subdued brown and cream tones, the etching complements the décor, yet pops from the wood-paneled wall on which it hangs. Featuring curvy female nudes, the artwork makes David-Weill’s fireplace a focal point of her refined living room.
David-Weill’s desk, with the Mac computer she uses to write, has a view that provided inspiration for her just-released novel, “The Suitors,” as well as her column for a French magazine. The Upper West Side reveals itself in the high-rises seen from her penthouse perch.