Sometime during the early hours of Thursday morning, the crimson awning above the storied Manhattan bistro Lucien stepped out to buy smokes. In its place, still flanked by the restaurant’s goldenrod facade, hangs a new awning in Burberry’s signature check—the mark of a 10-day pop-up partnership between the New York City restaurant and the British luxury brand to celebrate, as a shared press statement reads, “heritage, legacy and community.”
And the pattern doesn’t stop at the door—it also stretches across the seat cushions of barstools and bentwood chairs.
Since Lucien Bahaj opened the space in 1998, the restaurant has become known as much for its clientele as its French bistro fare. (Bahaj passed away in 2019; his son Zac now orchestrates the party.) Frequented by famous artists and artful famous people, Lucien has long functioned as a meeting space for downtown creatives—a reputation that, more recently, has earned it a viral following among the well-heeled TikTok set. (Writer Kunichi Nomura described it via email as an “authentic, old-design restaurant with young and wilds. And I like it.”) It’s a lineage that apparently runs through Burberry’s brand history, as well: Thomas Burberry, who founded the brand in 1856, often hosted local communities during his lifetime as a director of the Old Angel Café in Basingstoke, Hampshire, as well as at his private home, Crossways.
Every New York pop-up must have its merch, and Lucien and Burberry have produced a small run of novel restaurant-y things like crockery, coasters, and napkins, as well as co-branded matchboxes and crayons. There are also the requisite T-shirts, but those are created only “for the shared community of Burberry and Lucien,” the press release confirms, and are, crucially, not for sale.
On Wednesday night, that community gathered at the Burberry-fronted Lucien for the launch, and to share memories of the space. Model and filmmaker Coco Baudelle worked as a hostess here when she first moved to the city, which is also when her incidental doodles of cocktails—in part inspired by “a list someone had made of all the cocktails on Mad Men”—became Lucien’s signature illustrated drink menu.
“I made a selection of what I remembered people liking at the restaurant and what I imagined they would like to be sipping on,” Baudelle recalled via email after the launch party. “That same day, Zac and I brought the menu I had sketched—with a visible paper extension at the bottom and tracing lines—and made copies that we laminated. They were used that same night and have been ever since!”
When Zac, who took the helm after his father passed away in 2019, asked Baudelle to draw a new menu for the Burberry launch, she says, “it felt like we were right back to where we began. On the brink of a sizzling, sweaty summer in the most exhilarating city in the world. With a Lucien party T-shirt! It brought back sweet memories.”
For artist Lucien Smith, the evening was an ideal excuse for a night out. “It was nice to leave the house for a change,” he shared via email. “Loved the check chairs and umbrellas, very elegant.”