City Pulse

By Bir Ganguly

Yes, a trip to the gateway to Italy’s beautiful south! Only instead of having to worry about reservations, packing, and not getting killed each time you crossed a normal Naples street, all you need to do is put aside an hour or two for a quick visit to the Campania Region Office in Midtown. Actually, on second thoughts, you might need a little more preparation. Pack some drool-wipes. Some of the most beautiful things to have ever taken birth in the city and province of Naples are on view at the “Styles and Design of Italian Creativity” exhibit on the fourth floor of the building.

The thrill of standing a mere foot away from designs worn by style-goddesses such as Anna Magnani, Ingrid Bergman and Jacqueline Kennedy is not easy to put in words. And we are talking of these museum-worthy pieces without the restrictive glass casings that one would expect – as if you have walked in for your private appointment with Valentino, Capucci, Lancetti, Ken Scott, da Camerino, Gattinori, Armani, Versace, et al., at the same fitting, and they have put on 43 of their most exquisite creations just for you to choose from. Get as carried away and delusional as you would like, but do not try to tactually experience the pieces. Keep it visual, my friend. Each creation is worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars and even at the press pre-show, the “welcome” speech was concluded with a stern DO NOT TOUCH message!

As for the creations, it is hard to discriminate. Each one is superlatively beautiful and timeless. Even the slightly kitschy ones which have a bit more of the stamp of their times – like the Camerino jersey day dresses in polyester with “cheat” suit patterns – would definitely turn heads if you walked down the street in them. Turn heads in a good way, that is. However, tarry a bit longer in front of Capucci’s “finned” or “petalled” dresses (there is one from Sarli too), as well as in front of his ball-gowns in taffeta and chiffon from the eighties. Marvel at the two red-and-black evening dresses from pre-1990 Versace in their full avant-garde and rebellious glory, in terms of style – plenty of asymmetry, and the choice of fabrics – a cross of acetate and silk thrown in with leather! Some wishful thinking in front of the Lancetti pieces, one in red tulle and the other in ivory and black satin, would be appropriate. Both have amazingly intricate embroidery of black sequins and jade beads on the bust. It becomes pretty clear why he was called the “painter-tailor”.

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Pino Lancetti, Evening Dress, 1989 ca

There is also a piece by Emilio Pucci that you should not forget to check out. The 1960 evening suit bears the signature colourful, fun-and-frolic touch of the house though the cut is rather different from what you would see at a Pucci Boutique today. By the way, did you know that Pucci’s carrier began quite accidentally? When on a holiday trip in 1947, a ski dress on a lady-friend of his garnered the attention of Toni Frissel, the famous photographer at Harper’s Bazzar? Soon the magazine’s Fashion Editor Diana Vreeland had taken note and on December 14th, 1948, the magazine published an article with the title ” An Italian skier designs”. The rest is history.

To ensure an extremely desirable sensory overload, the organizers did not stop at the fabulous dresses. Contemporary designs created by master-jewellers from Naples, Torre del Greco, and the Neapolitan Province punctuate the fashion displays every few steps! They include an astounding variety of corals and pieces crafted in 18-karat white, black, and yellow gold set with pearls, diamonds, and a variety of other precious stones. Note the reverse-setting of the diamonds in certain pieces – an antique technique of the Neapolitan craft tradition. However, the highlight certainly is the beautiful selection of sensual cameos, once common Naples souvenirs. With gorgeous designs now sold in high-end shops, cameo design is still a thriving art, in which Naples and the Campania Region of Italy undoubtedly lead. Inquire with the staff for specifics on New York retailers.

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Antonella Boriello, Cameo Necklaces in Pearls and Corals

Whether you are a fashionista, a dabbler in fashion history, a jewellery enthusiast, an Italophile, or simply a New Yorker who likes to keep in sync with New York conversations, this is a must-attend show for all.

The “Styles and Design of Italian Creativity” exhibit is open to the public free of charge from July 15th to August 5th at the Campania Region Office at 4 East 54th Street, 4th floor, New York City.

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Centro Stile Loffredo, Necklace in Amazonite and Japanese Pearls and Coral

All images accompanying this article are from the exhibition “Styles and Designs of Italian Creativity”, July 15 – August 5, 2005, New York, organized by the Province of Naples.

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Scent-sations
By Kimberly McDonald

Known for is exotic and unique fragrances, Comptoir Sud Pacifique has long been a favorite of French women, as well as savvy Americans. Combining rare spices and succulent fruits with florals and vanillas is a hallmark of the line, which promises to evoke thoughts of exotic vacation destinations. One of my personal favorites, Coeur de Vahine (notes are peach and passion fruit blended with vanilla and sandalwood), has been called “a heady, sensual nod to the island of Vahine in Tahiti”, by Town & Country.

In an effort to keep us in a perpetual state of sensory escapism, the globe-trotting perfumers have come up with a new line of fragrances called Cool Tropic. This year they released three fun-in-the-sun scents: Paradise, Palm and Turquoise. Paradise is a citrus-floral blend with a hint of coconut and it’s to-die-for sexy. Palm has a very fresh and youthful aroma, thanks to a combination of lemon and melon with Pacific rose and seawater. My personal favorite from this line, Turquoise, which brings to mind Monet’s Water Lilies, combines grapefruit, mint, and bergamot with jasmine, ginger, and white musk. Makes for a smell so deliciously light and feminine.

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In keeping with the spirit of the Comptoir line, these are all very wearable and mixable, not to mention very unique scents.

The other new addition, which comes in the traditional formula, is the Vanille Peach. Think not of a sweet, candy-coated concoction that might lead people to believe that you borrowed your 14 year old niece’s perfume. Think sophisticated golden ripe peaches with a touch of hibiscus and the lightest air of Tahitian vanilla, wrapped in a gentle musk. This new fragrance is surely going to rival the line’s long-time superstar, Vanille Abricot, which has been touted as a fragrance must-have for any comprehensive collection.

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To order these gorgeous vacation-in-a-bottle scents, log on to www.comptoirsudpacifique.us or www.mybeautifulplace.com or if you’re in Manhattan, stop by Henri Bendel’s on 5th Avenue and explore the line.

Originally published July 2005
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