The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s masterpiece. Viewing it after-hours and in a small group was more than a religious experience
Margherita Missoni and I inside the Vatican Museum galleries
Virginie and Claire Courtin Clarins at the Louis Vuitton dinner in the Palazzo Ruspoli
Natalia Vodianova and a boy with a pearl beard at the ‘Brothel of Art’-themed party in celebration of the Louis Vuitton store opening
The Trevi Fountain
Anna Dello Russo and Delfina Delettrez Fendi
Lauren Santo Domingo at the Palazzo Ruspoli
I did not take the first few weeks of 2012 lying down. There was the trip to Rio de Janeiro for fashion week, an excursion to Las Vegas for Chanel’s store opening, and then a brief sojourn in Paris for the couture shows. Well, my world tour finally came to an end this weekend with a few days in Rome where Louis Vuitton opened a new flagship store in the former Etoile, the Eternal’s City very first movie theater, which was build in Luicina Square back in 1907. Now it’s three floors of gilded luxury, designed by Peter Marino, the doors of which flung open on Friday night.
As with all things with Louis Vuitton, no detail was overlooked. The girls were pampered and dressed, and cars whisked us off first to the store opening, and then a fabulous dinner inside the Palazzo Ruspoli, one of the city’s most important privately owned residences. The house is from another era, with nearly all of its original details still intact. (When the Sistine Chapel was restored, historians looked at the Palazzo Ruspoli as an original reference.) Following dinner, they had organized a ‘Brothel of Art,’ an amusing evening of fake prostitution and a concert from Jimmy Sommerville. Some were curious why they had chosen a brothel theme, but I got it; as I Tweeted that evening, it was appropriate to glamorize the world’s oldest profession in the world’s oldest city.
In addition to Friday night’s entertainment, the other truly memorable festivity that Louis Vuitton organized was a private after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums. Now, that was truly breathtaking. The last time I had been to the Sistine Chapel was in the late 1990s (I went with my then girlfriend, which should give you a better perspective on the timing), but during that tour I was jostled with a slew of outer pushy tourists. Not this time. The entire museum, from the ancient tapestries to Raphael’s masterpieces in the former private apartments of the pope to Michelangelo’s pièce de résistance on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: It was an inspiring tour of art history, and history itself. I can remember at one point Margherita and I had taken a seat on a bench, perhaps because our feet hurt from dancing so much the night before, and the tour guide told us to turn around: We were under Raphael’s The School of Athens, one of the most often referenced works in art history. I had to leave very early to come home to New York the next morning, so I crammed the rest of Rome’s famous destinations (St Peters, the Trevi Fountatin and so on) into one last minute drive through town. It truly is the most remarkable city in the world.
For more touristy shots from inside the Vatican museum and out and about Rome, and a gratuitous shot of me inside the Palazzo Ruspoli, click on the Jump.
Raphael’s masterpiece in the Vatican Museum: The School of Athens
This is me getting a little too comfortable in one of the sittings rooms in the Palazzo Ruspoli
The Spanish Steps
Detail of a tapestry entitled “The Massacre of the Innocents” at the Vatican Museum
The nativity scene outside of St. Peter’s Cathedral