Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice was never my favorite play. With Shylock going on and on about “”Hath not a Jew eyes?” Too controversial. Give me a tragic love story any day. (That reminds me: How can we make sure that Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby is more like Romeo + Juliet and less like Australia? But I digress.) While it may not be my favorite play, Venice is without a doubt one of my favorite cities. The history, the sinking, the drama. The only thing I don’t like is the tourists, which I know is outrageously hypocritical since I am one.
I’ve been to Venice a fair share of times: Off the top of my head I can remember coming for a school trip in high school, for a Chanel show with Karl Lagerfeld and for two Venice Bienale’s. And oh, once for the Venice Film Festival, which my friend, Interview editor Christopher Bollen, made the world’s most embarrassing film of our Venetian adventures. (You can watch it here. But be warned. It’s amazing.) Every time I come I fall in love with it all over again.
This most recent trip was with the fine folks at Louis Vuitton. As an avid reader of this blog will attest, I’m a fan of Louis Vuitton’s entertaining capacities. In the past few years, I’ve gone with the French luxury label to Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Rome, and all of the adventures are chronicled on MrBlasberg.com. This excursion was just as wonderful. The first night was a religious experience. Literally. We had a private tour of the cathedral in the Piazza San Marco, with it’s gilded domes. We sat on the floor and they warmed the lights so that the gilded glow bounced off the centuries old mosaics like fire flies. I’m not the most religious man, and I’m certainly not a Catholic. But I would go to mass every day if I lived in Venice. We had a fabulous tour guide who kept us well informed on the history of the church, and a little bit of spicy gossip. Did you know that some scholars believe that it’s not the body of Mark in the tomb, but of Alexander the Great?
The new Louis Vuitton store is outrageous. In a city where most shops are the size of postage stamps, this one is four floors of shiny, delicious retail space. On the last night, they hosted a dinner for in the royal halls of Princess Sissi, which were covered in brocaded satin and centuries old murals from Grand Masters. As an American who is used to traveling abroad and feeling like our nation’s history is dwarfed by Europe, I felt infantile in these lush surroundings.
Some of my favorite people were on this trip too, like Dianna Agron. So sweet, so pretty. Even as a red head. Ha! Clemence Posey is divine too. Even though she’s French. Ha, ha! The Italians too were in full force, like Coco Brandolini, Anna Dello Russo, Luisa Orsini and Antonine Peduzzi. And I met new friends, like the dreamy and gregarious Englishman Christian Cooke and some nutter English girl called Bip, a handsome local Italiano called Mattia and my friend Dree’s punk and pretty little sister Langley Hemingway. We drank red wine, ate fish and went on a vodka-searching mission over bridges and under buildings to find outrageously adorable holes in the walls. It’s sad to leave Venice, but the good part of leaving that place is knowing that you’ll come back.
Captions, from top: Sunset on the Grand Canal; Dianna and Christian, a lovely couple if there ever was one; Micole, Anna and Candela in their Vuitton finest; a sweet canal; Mattia, Christian and me; Coco in San Marco; Clemence at the Hotel Bauer; me and Antonine getting frisky; the spot where Peggy Guggenheim, who founded such a wonderful museum in Venice, was laid to rest, next to her 14 doggies; the gilded ceiling of the Cathedral; Langley and Luisa in the Sissi Apartments; Vivi Courtin Clarins reading up in the new Vuitton store; the chicest transportation; the one and only Bip; Lizzy, Alexia and Delfina staying dry on a freak rain shower; the story of Genesis told in gold in the foyer of the Cathedral; Dianna and Maggie; Piazza San Marco at sunrise.