Friday, May 11, 2012
Birthday Boy: Designing Man
All sorts of interesting people share a birthday today, as we'll shortly discuss, but one name jumps out at me - couturier Valentino. He's 80, and, knowing his style, probably still as improbably orange as ever (A Boehner avant la lettre, really). I wonder if he's having a party.
In 2007, when Mr. Muscato and I made our first trip to Rome, we ran into traces of an earlier fête of his while dutifully seeing the sights. From the Colisseum I looked out across the ruin-strewn landscape and saw the temple above. Having been a Rome-wonk as a child, I was confused, as it resembled nothing in any of the large and heavy books from Grandfather Muscato's library that I'd spent so much time with, and on top of it looked suspiciously anachronistic.
It was only later, as we spent what seemed an eternity trapped in a taxi because of a mysterious late-night traffic jam, that we learned that Signore Valentino was entertaining a few hundred friends and had comandeered the site of Hadrian's Temple of Rome for the festivities. Even from the backseat of a Roman cab, it looked like quite a do; you may, if so inclined, learn more about it here. Despite his regrettable affectation, dermatologically, I've always quite liked Valentino's suavely classic creations; he seems, more than most designers of this low age, the Real Thing.
Were Mr. V decide, in some eventual ethereal plain, to host a group that share his day, he could have quite a bash. They include Chang and Eng, the pair who put the Siamese into conjoined twins (and stand as among the earliest reality-style stars); two rather different geniuses of American music, composers Irving Berlin and William Grant Still; the King and Queen of the Character Actors, Comedy Division, Phil Silvers and Margaret Rutherford; dance diva Martha Graham; surrealist sultan Salvador Dali; actor and Simpsons-fodder Doug McClure; marryin' fool David Gest; the very gifted performer Peter North (better known to some of us d'un certain age as Matt Ramsey); eternal VJ Martha Quinn; and, sadly, gone-too-soon Natasha Richardson, the first really to reinvent Miss Sally Bowles out from under the shadow of Mrs. Gest. If nothing else, the floor show would be great fun, no?