Showing posts with label El Conde. Show all posts
Showing posts with label El Conde. Show all posts

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Private View…The Definition of Shipwreck Baroque

Dahhlings I thought I should show you the place where the term Shipwreck Baroque was coined, the private residence of El Conde y La Condesa.

 Regency Portrait above the mantle was a gift from la Condesa's godmother, it came from a Boston family.
Foto by L. Lewin

The definition of Shipwreck Baroque in la Condesa's own words:
My godmother's house was the first house I ever loved. It was the original Shipwreck Baroque Palace, very magical and mysterious, full of old secrets and dark corners, treasure chests and enormous seascape paintings lit by gaslight. It was a large rambling house built in stages over the 19th century, and in the summers I lived in a little room with a half moon window above the kitchen which was the oldest section. There were few concessions to the modern era which suited me perfectly, it was an empire of make believe where I was the author of all my adventures and the only adults around were my chief conspirators. I dressed up in 1920's mottled tea gowns the color of sunken treasure and strings of jade from Shanghai and then rode a wobbly junkyard bike into the village to buy a coke from the local House of Deals. Hours were spent crabbing off a rowboat or rummaging through the attic. There was no TV but there was a record player and thousands of records from Stan Getz to Mozart to Bob Marley. My bohemian godmother sang old Irish sea shanties and her husband played the guitar and I would spin around the lofty living rooms on long summer evenings. We also had to tell stories or recite a poem, we were each other's entertainment. There was a deep water dock at the back of the garden where sailboats could tie up and I remember many times an old schooner or ketch would drift into sight, battered and streaked with ocean salt, having made a circumnavigation. My godmother and her husband were sailors and had a yacht in the West Indies and had chosen this particular place as a hurricane hole, tucked away up a creek off the Chesapeake Bay, a very protected place for sailboats. So other sailors had marked it on their charts too and after throwing a stiff coil of rope around a crooked piling, they stepped off their boats, weary and stumbling about on sea legs after a long voyage, and full of stories. My godmother's husband had a fondness for antique cannons and would greet the arrival of a boat with a two cannon salute, much to the chagrin of the local police ( the neighbors were used to it). My godmother would pull out a frying pan and conjure up a dinner party on the back porch. By candlelight we would feast and I would listen to the tales of sailing the Red Sea and being shipwrecked off the coast of Australia. There were hours of rum soaked reminiscences and I wanted to grow up and be just like them all. I did eventually run away and go sailing and did get shipwrecked and when we finally settled down here, I knew that what I wanted was to create an homage to that house I loved. That house of my summers with all of its landmarks was a story I told myself over and over. Shipwreck Baroque I said to the Count, and he knew right away what I was talking about. It's the spirit of the place."
 
  The medal on the ribbon was presented by the King of Spain in the 1920's to El Conde's grandfather.
It is called The Order of Isabella the Catholic
Foto by L. Lewin

The salon is painted in Benjamin Moore's Pistachio Green
Foto by L. Lewin

Empire Sofa from Arcanum
Foto by L. Lewin

The scrimshaw was a piece found in Nantucket, date unknown but probably 19th century
Foto by L. Lewin

The oriental style painting was done by Jacqueline Carcagno Weyman,
it hangs above a mahogany Second Empire sideboard from Alex Raskin Antiques
Foto by L. Lewin

Late Victorian Copeland & Spode for Tiffany's Blue Willow teapot
Foto by L. Lewin

La Condesas’s influence, taste & refined eye can be seen & felt everywhere in this house, in various vignettes that represent both of their aristocratic, ancient and distinguished lineage.

I asked her more about the house and this is what she shared with me:
"Chimera Cottage was built in 1877 for a member of the Drayton family, a decade after the Civil War had ended and Reconstruction had begun. A one story center hall plan with four flanking symmetrical rooms built of heart pine, the design is more akin to a New Orleans style house. A very old and stately magnolia which towers over the courtyard like a lighthouse keeping watch over the centuries has witnessed the changes of fortune of the city and the house. In 2005 we became the tenth owners and set to work to bring back to life the long neglected cottage. Hence the name. There was a sort of resigned melancholy of the long slow decay of wood and paint in the sun which turned everything into the color of a ghost's shadow; not grandly cursed like Manderley but vaguely haunted by the far off echo of centuries' old laughter and a glimpse of trailing skirts at the far end of the hall. So we painted the rooms red and green and gold and hung portraits and mirrors pitted with age. There are sideboards and sea chests spilling books and talismans and silver from our travels and a thousand and one tales woven into the oriental carpets. On the front door is curled a bronze lizard from Cartagena de Indias, in the courtyard is a fountain decorated with tiles from Lisbon. We erected a front wall using 19th century brick and capped it with a long spiky row of Victorian wrought iron. We planted lemon trees and roses and banana plants in the front garden, and now mark the seasons by the blooming of the gardenia and camellia and crepe myrtle. In our courtyard kingdom of Savannah where a little red fox and a big black wolf stand sentry, there are traces of Spain and the West Indies and France and England, a little bit of voodoo and a lot of love. It is above all a place of poetry and daydreams."

The Dinningroom
Foto by L. Lewin

The green and gold floral tea set was a gift from la Condesa's English grandmother.
The pattern is Mason's Mandalay's Chartreuse.
The painting behind it is by Austrian artist Maxine Bomer
Foto by L. Lewin

In the dinningroom a second Empire library table used as a bar, the painting above is by Jacqueline Carcagno Weyman
Foto by L. Lewin 


Door knocker found during a trip to Cartagena de Indias (Colombia)
Foto by L. Lewin

Saints and Icons in the Master bedroom
Foto by L. Lewin
In the bedroom, Greek needlepoint tapestry depicting an Italian Madonna in a 19th century tabernacle frame
Foto by L. Lewin
The farmhouse sink is original to the kitchen.
Foto by L. Lewin

A corner in the kitchen
Foto by L. Lewin

The portrait of the woman in a blue dress reclining on a pink divan is by Austrian artist Maxine Bomer.
It rests on a shelf in the master's bathroom.
Foto by L. Lewin

Conservatory
Foto by L. Lewin

Foto by L. Lewin

Foto by L. Lewin

The library is painted in Benjamin Moore's Sangria.
Foto by L. Lewin

Foto by L. Lewin

The small painting of the pitcher is by Austrian artist Maxine Bomer
Foto by L. Lewin

Foto by L. Lewin

El Conde built the fountain
Foto by L. Lewin

Roses from the front Garden planted by los Condes.
Foto by L. Lewin
 
So dahhling, wouldn’t you agree this is a perfectly romantic definition of Shipwreck Baroque?
Until soonest…

HRH
The Duchess of State

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Washington Affair, a cocktail Party...


Last week the FAB Baron Kleinstschwule hosted his first annual “A Washington Affair…a cocktail party”.  What a treat it was… the food as usual was exquisite, never mind the chocolate truffles…the mix of people was superb.   What makes the event so remarkable is the age of the host: 22 years!
In this day in age in which we find ourselves, with so many people (The Boor's) of the same age, in their 30’s & 40’s, uninterested in anything refined, chic, organized or God-forbid elegant entertaining.  It is as though entire generations now in their 40’s/30’s were all raised with one goal in life: Practicality & the mundane.  Order everything from a catalogue to furnish their homes (forget slowly deliberately collecting objects, furniture, art to decorate the interiors of their homes to reflect their personality, their life) and of course only end up living in sad “track rooms”, dress to match the current trend (What ever happened to personal style???) and above all only concern themselves with a social life only when it involves purchasing a ticket, attending anything free for the masses or a grill!  They wouldn’t know the difference between a cereal bowl and a bouillon cup, and what is sadder, they couldn’t care less!






Hence what makes our dear Baron, like the sighting of the rarest bird, the elephant woman or the  albino hunchback around the Garden, that much more precious….and really the bastion of future FAB events in our Garden for his generation & all the ones in between.








The invitation specified formal and his FAB cocktail party looked gorgeous with everyone dressed so beautifully and was attended by a wonderful interesting group, the Baron put together.  Members of La Sociedad, artists, writers, scholars & the Nobility of course!  Among many, First Lady Cook & the honorable Mr. Cook,  El Conde y La Condesa looking ever so gorgeous about to leave on holiday for Madrid & Rome for the next 3 weeks.  The much sought after Starland Boys, who are infamous for receiving more invitations than the actual events they ever attend.  To find them as guests at a party is the mark of great success of any hostess or host (well done dahhling Baron).  Lord Crabtree & Lady Hamilton, mon ja’bibi The Duke looking so handsome & princely in his white tuxedo jacket.   Sweet Aristocratic Viscount, Marquise du Chaussure, the Dominican Marqués and the Earl of Cavendish (full of stories to tell me, of course!).  The International's were there also, he from Venezuela, she from Germany; Together they make a FAB style & power duo.  She was wearing the most beautiful Balenciaga yellow coat with opera length gloves! of course they are bonafide members of La Sociedad and know everyone dahhling... I also met the most interesting & sophisticated Lebanese gentleman who was a real treat to speak to.  Never mind the fun & cute Chevalier Jibbles one of the Baron’s favorites and a very charming & interesting golf pro to boot!

Of course for all the great people at any party, no matter how FAB, there are always a few oddities.  I saw a cleaning lady complete with a maid’s cap & bag of laundry, a janitor, a Dom DeLuise impersonator, a lispy frizzy hair woman and the worse a member of the WHO’s crowd! (although truthfully he was more of a dunce!)  










Dahhhling, it is always easier to hide behind the pretext of ignorance, naiveté or stupidity as reasons why a younger person (or of any age really) does not takes an active role in developing an elegant life with a full social calendar of events both attending & hosting… after all dahhling, no one was born already knowing how to, not even this Duchess! We all had to learn at some point, and the earlier the better! Now should you come across any of those pretentious creatures who will tell you otherwise or worse, insist on the act that they never had to learn & never made a mistake along the way, even then they are more of a boor than you for not trying at all!
Until soonest…

HRH
The Duchess of State.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

La Condesa, the birth of A Grand Dragona…

Dahhling, I have written before about La Condesa, however I have barely touched on the reasons I admire this most amazing adventurous bohemian royal woman. I find the path she has carved out of in this life with that indomitable spirit one of the many qualities I admire about her.  She has done so many things that I admit to you dahhling, I would never have the courage to do!  She is one of the most fashionable women I know, her unique über chic old world style is breathtakingly beautiful, like a postcard from the past in her burgundies, furs, cognacs, browns, tweeds, custom made palazzo pants or her 1950’s inspired dresses always finished with the most exquisite & rare vintage byzantine style jewels.

Foto by Eugenio Recuenco
Her story began in the beautiful genteel world of the old Virginia of the Ancien Régime, of course.
By the time she could tell her nurse, with that unique haughtiness of hers that she would not wear what she was told to wear but instead what she chose to, she was already riding horses.  She could not wait to join the others in the fox hunting parties.  Boarding school did nothing to damper her spirits but instead exposed her to the fact that there are others like her in this vast world & that discovery would only encourage her tireless thirst for adventure & discovery.  Her father, a diplomat, whom she is devoted to, always instilled in her the fundamental need to always learn, search for the truth of anything & everyone beyond from what lies on the mere surface.

Photo by Eugenio Recuenco
Life took her from one end to the other.  When she was 16 she was on safari in the middle of the wilderness in Africa with only her mother as a companion, traveling in the mist of, yet another civil revolution.  Her fair gold locks, porcelain skin & deep blue eyes, certainly got her noticed, but it was her powerful sense of self that got them through what could had ended with her sold off in some middle eastern harem when the local militia refused passage to them from the deep African savannah back to the more civilized portion of the county on their way back out.  There was already a Grand Dragona growing in her, even if she did not understand yet what that meant.

Foto by Eugenio Recuenco
A few years later she was in the little French village of Montpellier, attending university, where she caught the eye of her first husband, a blue blood, member of La Sociedad of Barcelona, and sooner than you can set a table with Limoges dahhling, she was married in all the high drama & style befitting such a match in a
15th century monastery.  Anyone who was anyone was of course invited & thus began her years living there. A strange life that did not ever involve anything but her in-laws desire for blonde beautiful babies. She lived in a grand apartment, purchased by the family, in one of the most chic neighborhoods off Passeig de Gràcia, she had a full staff, that did not really report to her nor received a salary but from the family instead. Her husband never gave her money for anything, including the market, she was instructed by her formidable mother in law that she was to go to any shop in the city & simply give her last name. They would phone the family for approval & things would be magically delivered to her beautiful apartment, things that were approved only, of course.  It goes without saying, that before long, the poor dear Condesa found herself feeling watched by the Arian Gestapo and all their minions with their judgmental eyes, for every month that would go by without her bearing the fruit of the reason for the union: blonde, blue eyed babies, she felt more and more caged, less & less like herself.

Foto by Eugenio Recuenco


Foto by Eugenio Recuenco

Foto by Eugenio Recuenco
Of course her exit out of Barcelona & the cult of the Arian Gestapo came by just as dramatically as people trying to flee West Germany in the early 1900’s.  But, with the cover of the night, she left with nothing more than her passport & her spirit unperturbed and found her way back to Old Virginia from where she promptly filed for divorce. 

Foto by Eugenio Recuenco

Foto by Eugenio Recuenco

Foto by Eugenio Recuenco
It was during that year, at her family’s summer beach cottage, that she met her 2nd husband, the Pirate that would steal her away from the idyllic life in the cottage to a FAB life on a yacht, sometimes sailing from one end to another of the continent and other times docked permanently in New York west village harbor, enduring a whirl wind of cocktail parties & Sunday brunch yacht hopping.  However all was not what it seemed with the Pirate and the darker side of his personality & his smuggling ways soon were all to clear to La Condesa & when on a trip back from the Caribbean the yacht began to sink after being caught in a storm, she saw her chance & took it. Her S.O.S. was so enticing that the Venezuelan coast guard had no choice but to rush to the rescue. Once in custody (for she was looked at with suspicious spy eyes by the Venezuelan authorities, the nerve I know!) she promptly telephone her father & once again she was set free never to see the pirate again. 


Foto by Eugenio Recuenco
It was another year before she would meet her 3rd husband, the love of her life: El Conde (whose grandfather was the master of guard of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and whose mother, the Dowager Countess: Doña Teresa, grew up as a lady in waiting to Queen Victoria Eugenia, pre Franco displacement of course!).  It was because of him she came to the Garden, it was because of his calm & serene influence that the dear found happiness at last.  Beyond the fascinating journey that has gotten her to our fair Garden, she is by far one of the most genuine and original persons one will ever meet.  She is a very talented photographer with an artistic eye who has captured her own unique perspective of the world every time she travels, from the grand dilapidated houses in Columbia, the quiet baroque beauty of Lisbon, Rome, Paris and Madrid, the magical corners in an 18th century cemetery in our Garden to the simple discoveries of nature around her very own regal courtyard.  At her core, she is the definition of a Grand Dragona, ever so imperious, ever so unwilling to put up with any sort of insolence, always a true wit and loyal to a fault for those she considers her own, but did life make her into the Grand Dragona she is? Or was she born this way?

Foto by Eugenio Recuenco
Photo by L. Lewin

Photo by L.Lewin

Photo by L. Lewin
Foto by L. Lewin
Foto by L. Lewin
As I have said before, notwithstanding her upbringing, La Condesa, is one of the most Spanish ladies I know.  Her essence if of full Spanish blood. Noblesse blue, of course! and one of my dearest friends.
Until soonest…

HRH
The Duchess of State
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