Magazine article The Spectator

Beauty and Bloodlines

Magazine article The Spectator

Beauty and Bloodlines

Article excerpt

New York

Suzy, the society columnist of the bygone era when gossip columnists covered real society - unlike today's lot, who publish names given to them by publicists listing who attended which store opening called it a union of beauty and bloodlines, an exquisite ceremony, the best of New York, Connecticut and international society. Although I do not possess Suzy's talent to panegyrise the rich and the chic, I must admit it was just as she described it, but more, much more. Suzy went home early, I was the last to leave; ergo my advantage. There is always a moment of truth during a party.

It arrives just as the booze, the late hour, the heady music and the sex drive fuse, creating a magical juncture that remains in the subconscious for years to come. I felt such a moment of truth throughout the Herrera ball, most likely the last great one I'll be attending in my lifetime. (I say this because - at least here in the Bagel - the barbarians are now inside the gates, the old guard having gone the way of Napoleon's, with the nouveau riche and vulgar being the ones giving the parties.)

The occasion was the marriage of Patricia Herrera and Gerrit Lansing Jr., two young people blessed with looks and charm, and not a small amount of the root of all envy. I'll start with the parents. Reinaldo Herrera is one of my oldest and closest friends, scion of an old and noble Spanish-Venezuelan family whose seat in Caracas is the oldest continuously inhabited house in the Western Hemisphere. Built in 1590 by his ancestor, La Vega is perhaps a white elephant in today's egalitarian times, but proof that powerful people back then not only knew how to spend, but also how to live graciously and in the best of taste. Not that you'd know it meeting Reinaldo. Like a fool, he renounced his title of Marquis of Torre Casa, proclaiming that the times in his country are not conducive to handles. I say the opposite. Now's the time to stick it to the vulgar ones, and having a real title today is as important as not having one was, say, in Italy circa the Thirties, when so many had phony ones.

Be that as it may, his wife, Carolina, is the greatest of designers, a unique beauty whose designs combine the elegance of Valentino, the tradition of Balenciaga, and the flair of Oscar de la Renta, and this, coming from someone who knows as much about fashion as Tony Blair's father-in-law knows about manners, is really saying something. …

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