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2009 May 21

The View From the Top

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Selma Blair in Versace with Ferragamo shoes and Bulgari jewels Selma Blair in Versace with Ferragamo shoes and Bulgari jewels
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(ROME) "OK, guys--we can do this," commanded Jessica Alba to Selma Blair and Chloe Sevigny. The three actresses stood at the base of the ancient hand-carved ramp leading up to the top of the Castel Sant'Angelo, a towering cylinder of sorts originally constructed between 159 and 139 as a mausoleum for Roman Emperor Hadrian. These days, the museum offers some of the most stunning views of the city--once one arrives at the observation level, that is.

Guests at the dinner celebrating Bulgari's 125th anniversary (and the opening of the retrospective exhibition Bulgari: Between Eternity and History) were faced with the task of navigating up the ramp—and ensuing stairs--in some very nice heels. But first, the likes of Jason Lewis, Alain Delon, Margherita Missoni and Fabrizio Ferri (who photographed Bulgari's Save the Children campaign) gathered outside the castle walls to discuss the exhibit, which many saw for the first time an hour earlier at the Palazzo dell'Espizione. The toast of Italian society admired the gala while imbibing a dizzying array of champagne, bellinis, vino bianco, vino rosso, aqua frizzante, aqua naturale...even straight peach juice.

"I'm embarassed to admit this, but this is my first time to Rome," said Blair as her Ferragamo heels aerated the sod that was laid down for the occasion. "I'm here strictly because I love Bulgari. As a child, my mother wore it, and then I was lucky enough to wear a ring to a Vanity Fair party several years ago. It's just the happiest ring I own." Aside from admiring the baubles, Blair has been engaging in a few tourist activities. "I've been eating way too much pasta," she said sheepishly, looking down at her jeweled Versace frock. "I need to let out my dress!"

"Why don't they make a party with some chairs?" joked Gina Lolabrigida, who perched on a stool while devilishly handsome waiters approached with trays of proscuitto di parma, fried mozzarella balls and bruschetta. "I've been friends with Bulgari for life--with the father of Nicola. I remember the first Bulgari piece I bought. I went home and slept well that night. But I remember earning my first money from a movie--40,000 lire--and immediately, I went out and bought an umbrella. That night, I didn't sleep at all. Everything is relative in life!"

"This is an honor and a blessing," said Ilaria Bulgari, as her father Nicola, sister Veronica and other assorted family members greeted the throngs of well-wishers and fellow luxury magnates like Carla Fendi and Santo Versace. "It's a humbling experience. Last night, we had a private viewing of the exhibition, and it was the first time I had seen such a variety of periods in one place."

As the cocktail hour wound to a close, the crowd soldiered themselves for the task at hand. "I climbed the Spanish Steps today, and I thought that was enough exercise," laughed Sevigny, who is heading to Milan for the weekend. "But I think I can make it." Once guests arrived at the summit, an impressive spread awaited that offered both delicious food and rare access to one of the city's most ancient treasures. Waiters bearing heaps of gelato on silver trays gamely navigated between Pat Field and Amedeo Scognamiglio, and as the American contingent took in the sweeping views of Rome, one elegant gentleman ventured over to Cameron Silver. "No, sir, I don't have any sparkling water," Silver answered politely in English. Then, to his friends: "Just because I'm wearing a white dinner jacket, everyone thinks I'm a waiter!"
ASHLEY BAKER

 




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