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igh school meant (in addition to building a skateboard half-pipe ramp in the backyard and sticking up for his little sister with his fists when required) the Trinity-Pawling School and coming to New York City as much as possible. He hit CBGB and worked in a SoHo skateboard shop. At the College of Charleston, he majored in art but says he was only there for the championship sailing team. After graduating, he ended up working for the money manager Dana Giacchetto, who got in the news for bilking celebrity clients in 1999. A quick career change was in order, and bolstered by the record collection of his father (who died in 1995) he became a DJ. “Eight months ago I would never have thought of it,” he told the New York Observer in 2000, admitting it helped to have a famous sister because people hoped she’d show up at his events. In 2006 Sevigny renovated a basement

Paul and Sophie Sevigny

restaurant in the West Village to open a speakeasy-like nightclub, the Beatrice Inn. The New York Times said it defined a moment the way Odeon did in the 1980s, and like Amy Sacco’s Bungalow 8, it became the toughest door in town. Uptowners and downtowners from the art, media and entertainment worlds flocked to get in and often did not. The appeal wasn’t just the living-room-like intimacy that Sevigny orchestrated. It was the chaotic dancing on the best little dance floor in the back of the place—gracefully separated like a rubber room from the bar and lounge in front. The music was vintage, funky and defiantly unconventional—less house, more Modest Mouse. Surrounded by genteel banquettes (often an Olsen twin was on one) the acoustics somehow allowed conversation. “It was the last place before phones and texting,” he says of the club, which was a victim of its own success when neighbors shut it down due to the late-night activity it

“I ALWAYS THOUGHT I’D BE ONE OF THOSE ECCENTRIC OLD EAST VILLAGE GUYS WITHOUT KIDS, AND I NEVER EXPECTED TO BE A FATHER, SO IT’S A TOTAL AND COMPLETELY DELIGHTFUL SURPRISE FOR ME, AND I LOVE IT.”—PAUL SEVIGNY brought to a quiet residential street. Sevigny feels that more than exclusivity the secret ingredient was a sense of discovery. “It was a place where people wanted to talk to each other,” he says. If the Beatrice had a timeless and classy style, the same can be said about Paul’s Baby Grand, which opened in 2013. Sevigny aimed to dazzle with a feminine decor. His sister designed the women’s uniforms to be more pretty than sexy, almost as if she would have worn them as a Mormon wife on HBO’s Big Love. He designed the men’s uniforms to be what he might wear: cream-colored double-breasted blazers and motley bow ties. He also installed Venetian chandeliers, drapes and tufted sofas. The custom wallpaper and tropical art by Josh Smith all suggest old school grandeur by way of Havana, Miami and Fisher Island. “I wanted to rip off Dorothy Draper, Kelly Wearstler and Bunny Williams to the point where the wrong people wouldn’t even like it,” he says. “And I wanted to design a place for girls because the guys will come anyway. The club just isn’t for everyone.” Tell that to the hordes that line up at the door and hope to get inside.


fter finishing his dinner, he walks past a crowd of dressy young people, mostly in black and forced into the unpleasant position of looking like supplicants under the gaze of towering doormen in parkas. “People take nightlife so seriously,” he says. Inside, he checks his coat and greets staff (including a handsome, snowy-haired bartender who he says was 70 | AVENUE MAGAZINE • APRIL 2016

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22/3/16 2:08 pm

AVENUE April 2016  

Founded in 1976, AVENUE is a must-read among the city’s most discerning, stylish and savvy audiences. As Manhattan’s oldest society magazine...

AVENUE April 2016  

Founded in 1976, AVENUE is a must-read among the city’s most discerning, stylish and savvy audiences. As Manhattan’s oldest society magazine...