n. the instinctive tendency to see someone as you knew them in their youth, a burned-in image of grass-stained knees, graffitied backpacks or handfuls of birthday cake superimposed on an adult with a degree, an illusion formed when someone opens the door to your emotional darkroom while the memory is still developing.
The man has a point.
I’ll begin by saying that though I did find an alleged portrait of Don Carlos, it was impossible to confirm whether it was authentic or not. Instead, I chose his residence, Château de Groussay, at Montfort-l’Amaury, as a visual counterpart to this post. Now, Don Carlos is chiefly remembered for being an eccentric multi-millionaire art collector and interior decorator who’s ball at the Palazzo Labia in Venice in 1951 is still referred to as “The Party of the Century”. Don Carlos was of Mexican and Spanish origins, and became, as you may observe from this photograph, the heir to an immense fortune. In 1948 he acquired the now-famous Palazzo, and began a series of restorations works, furnishing it with objects that he acquired from neighboring palazzo’s, including frescoes by Raphael, tapestries and antiques, and other luxurious items. On the 3rd of September, 1951, Don Carlos held a masked costume ball which he called Le Bal oriental, at the Palazzo. It has been said that it was the largest and most lavish social event of the 20th century. Invitations went out six months beforehand. Jacques Path, Dior and Valentina were busy for weeks ahead whipping up suitable 18th Century costumes. The career of Pierre Cardin began with this ball, for he was commissioned by Don Carlos to design 30 costumes for the event. Nina Ricci was also involved. The host wore scarlet robes and long curling wig, raising his normal height by a full 16 inches with the aid of platform soles.
By 10 p.m. the canal in front of the palace was filled with gondolas and motorboats. Shortly before midnight, a flourish of trumpets sounded, and the 1,500 guests where escorted into the great hall, where the host presented himself. Champagne, lobsters, ballets, minuets, rumbas, sambas, Charlestons and a troupe of acrobats diverted the guests in the palace until dawn. Don Carlos even went one step further by organizing a last minute party for the curious gatherers who had surrounded the Palazzo, some of which were fortunate enough to dance and mingle with the invited guests. Although no one was forced to signed a confidentiality agreement, guests kept quiet for many years after, seldom revealing to press the events that unfolded that night, for many a reputation could be ruined considering the level of debauchery. “I don’t think,” said the Aga Khan, reflectively, “that we will ever see anything like this again.”
Self-portrait. Taken this morning. Trying to make it to New Year’s Eve in one piece.