Imagine a place where ordinary people sunbathe among celebrities, a place where all the latest trends are showcased in their glorious transience, even the most provocative ones, a place designed for people who love to be seen, to breathe the perfumed air of an icon; in other words: the place to be.

Imagine a place where ordinary people sunbathe among celebrities, a place where all the latest trends are showcased in their glorious transience, even the most provocative ones, a place designed for people who love to be seen, to breathe the perfumed air of an icon; in other words: the place to be.

At Porte Molitor, 16th arrondissement of Paris, there was a swimming pool where all of the abovementioned facts occurred. Built by architect Lucien Pollet and opened in the year 1929 by Olympic athlete and lifeguard Johnny Weismuller, Piscine Molitor was a glorious Art Deco building, resembling a cruise-ship.

People could swim, stretch their legs on the deck chairs, flirt with the neighbouring life enjoyers and keep up with the latest trends, especially in summer, when it hosted events such as theatrical performances and galas.

It was here that the bikini (and later, the “monokini”) debuted, designed and displayed by Louis Réard during a fashion show in 1946. In winter, the pool was converted into an ice skating rink, where athletes trained for figure skating. The character of Yann Martel’s award winning novel Life of Pi, Piscine “Pi” Patel, is named after Piscine Molitor by his father who wanted his soul to be “as clean as the pool’s water”.

The decay arrived only few years ago, when the City of Paris decided to replace Piscine Molitor with a new housing project that comprehended the demolition of the existing hotel complex in order to build another facility and the conversion of the pool into a parking lot. It was 1989 and even if the swimming pool was already far away from its ancient fashionable allure and glory, groups of locals protested against the project.

The building was saved from destruction and listed in the inventory of the French Monuments Historiques but suffered from lack of maintenance ever since. A layer of negligence that progressively transformed a glamorous place in a hangout for street artists, ravers and skateboarders that made once again an iconic place out of Piscine Molitor, one way or the other.

On 14th April 2001 French sound system Heretik chose it to threw a free party: 5000 people dancing into the main pool all night long, a breath of fresh air for a lonely place that once was so used to social ferment. But the structure, without proper maintenance was, yes, beautiful on the outside (gracefully covered with graffiti) but decaying on the inside.

Piscine Molitor reopened last May, as a new luxury hotel club provided with 124 rooms, spa, gym, rooftop bar. A day of swimming can cost up to €180, with annual membership fees up to €3,300. A little too pricey, according to some politicians. 2014 will be remembered as the year in which Piscine Molitor raised again, more exclusive and stylish than ever!