Eugene’s raisin

The first maitre d’hotel at Maxim’s was Eugene Cornuché.  He prided himself on pleasing his clientele and saw to it they could order almost any dish. When one man shouted angrily that there was a beetle in his soup, Cornuché put the insect in his mouth and swallowed it, assuring the complainer that it was only a raisin. An American cotton millionaire asked for, and was brought, a naked girl resting in an ambrosial pink sauce on a silver platter.


He encouraged glamourous women to come to the restaurant every night. Haitian beauty Jeanne Duval arrived carrying her tiny pet dog in her jewel encrusted chastity belt. Caroline Otero fandangoed on the tables, Liane de Pougy wore emerald rings on her toes; and men flocked to be seen with them.


Of Caroline Otero, it was said that ‘her spectacular breasts preceded her by a quarter of an hour‘. The writer Collette described them as ‘elongated lemons, firm and gloriously upturned at their lovely tips’.

Caroline and Liane both boasted that they owned the choicest jewels in France, and it was agreed that they should bring their collections one night to Maxim’s and allow its habitués to judge. Caroline was the first to arrive, laden from head to foot. Her victory seemed certain as the only part of her left uncovered was her face.


Liane appeared dressed entirely in black velvet without a single jewel. Behind her came her personal maid, who removed the coat she was wearing and, in the words of an onlooker, resembled an illuminated Eiffel Tower. As abounding applause proclaimed her the winner, a raging Caroline rushed towards the winner and had to be restrained by the ever ready urbane Monsieur Cornuché.


“In 1913, Jean Cocteau said of Maxim’s: “It’s an accumulation of velvet, lace, ribbons, diamonds and what all else I couldn’t describe. To undress one of these women is like an outing that necessitates three weeks advance notice, it’s like moving house.” Other famous guests of that time period were Edward VII and Marcel Proust.

window dressing inspired by Proust

Maxim’s was also immensely popular with the international elite of the 1950s, with guests such as Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Porfirio Rubirosa, Max Ophuls, and Barbara Hutton. When the restaurant was renovated at the end of the decade, workmen discovered a treasure trove of lost coins and jewelry that had slipped out of the pockets of the wealthy and been trapped between the cushions of the banquettes.


Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 10:49 am  Comments (40)  
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40 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh now that is a reno job I wish I was working on! All I ever find beneath my cushions are food scrapes….

    • I found a joint once… kind of a shame I don’t smoke… it was a particularly big one

  2. So a window dresser on his off time was studying Proust? That sounds kind of hard to believe. It’s also hard to imagine Cocteau sitting in Maxims’s, which had a classic logo, by the way.

    • Are you referring to the typeface? I just did an image search for Maxim’s logo

  3. My favourite restaurant is Scottish and I go there most weeks. Although ostentatious jewelry is rarely seen, fancy dress is encouraged by the Maitre d’, M. Ronald McDonald…

    • I hadn’t really pictured you as a fillet’o’fish kinda guy Affer

  4. sudden craving for sushi, with lemon.

    • I love sushi – so clean, so fresh

  5. I take it the wasabi is on the side of that spread… kind of makes me wish I liked sushi.

    • daisyfae could make you like sushi!

  6. Now I have an urge to go turn out the cushions in the living room.

    • Last time I did that (not that long ago) all I found was cracker crumbs and dog hair.

  7. I mused on the statement “To undress one of these women is like an outing that necessitates three weeks advance notice,”

    Somehow, I’m not sure that is the reaction I would want to garner. I’m thinking I would want to appear slightly more accessible. I mean, in the long run wouldn’t that be more fun? There should be some challenge, but not too much!

    • I think 2 weeks is sufficient notice 😉

  8. If I was called Liane de Pougy, I’d never leave home without my personal maid.

  9. carrying a dog in a chastity belt. that is something I would love to see.

  10. But, how, oh how do you fit a dog into a chastity belt?

    Still, quite an arresting visual.

  11. Does the dog double as a merkin?

    • oh very droll Lulu 😉

  12. Just bring me the naked girl – never mind the ambrosial pink sauce!

  13. I think my breasts preceed me by about a quarter of an hour too.

    But I draw the line at body tempurature sushi. It’s unhygienic!

    • Dolce, you have the most beautiful breasts I’ve ever seen jiggling in the Aegean

  14. Ah, I now begin to see where my ex mother-in-law’s culinary inspiration comes from.

    • There are so many ways I could take that comment Kyk

  15. Clever of Maxim’s to have cushiony banquettes to encourage generous tipping. With all that exposed jewellery, you’d think they would have been more meticulous about cleaning up after a busy weekend.

    • Good point. I always slide my hand down the back of the couch when having afternoon tea at the Ritz Carlton…. never know what I’ll find….

  16. i wear a ring on my toes too but i don’t feel so glamorous. sushi looks delish!

  17. Ah id only such decadence accompanied the food at the local greasy spoon

  18. Yummy stuff. I’m reminded of the movie Lady Chatterly’s Lover and the scene where he decorated her naked body with individual blossoms.. food would be much more fun.
    Love it!

  19. Hello Nursemyra, how nice to make your acquaintance! Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner. Any friend of Mitzi’s is a friend of mine. I will check back on you later this week when I have more time. I like your place. 😉

    • Hi Marvin. Welcome to the Gimcrack. I had to go over to your place after reading a comment you left at Mitzi’s that made me laugh… the one about Demolition Man

  20. Eat the rich. I went to Maxim’s once, but only at the drive-through.

  21. Sounds like Caroline had some choice jewels all right!

    The movie Rising Sun has a memorable nude sushi scene.

  22. Black velvet…sexy and hot as hell to wear. I swallowed a small flying beetle the other night while exercising…my first non-vegetarian exploit in over 17 years.

  23. there’s some good practical information here. if i ever open a restaurant, admittedly small chance, but one never knows, i’ll install deep, non-removable cushions to capture pocket change and loose jewels.
    in the meanwhile, i’ll look for a nude in pink sauce wherever i go dining. and i’ll have my camera with me, just in case. with capers please…

  24. I wish I hung out with Cocteau! DEBAUCHERY ALL THE TIME!

  25. I so wish I was there for this. I would have loved the environment described here. My kind of place!!! I love the concept of eating a fine meal of a beautiful naked woman. I may try it someday.

  26. I’m very anxious to sample the ‘ambrosial pink sauce’. The naked girl is surely simply a garnish.

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