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November, 2013:

ROBERT O’BYRNE’S THE LAST KNIGHT

The Last Knight: A Tribute to Desmond FitzGerald 29th Knight of Glin

If you’ve been reading WIJW for a while you know that I’m constantly falling in love with extraordinary houses in need of rescue…and this is certainly a big part of why I’m so thrilled to share our friend Robert O’Byrne’s (The Irish Aesthete) latest book entitled The Last Knight: A Tribute to Desmond Fitzgerald, 29th Knight of Glin.

When Desmond Fitzgerald passed away in September 2011, O’Byrne was quite disappointed with the media coverage…it simply did not do justice to him. In answer, our friend O’Byrne produced this lovely tome to celebrate Fitzgerald, his home, and his great passion for Ireland’s rich cultural heritage. In O’Bryne’s words, “…Glin ( Fitzgerald’s ancestoral home)…radiated out those passionate commitments which embraced the whole of Ireland. For the most cosmopolitan man, Ireland was the centre of the world and Glin was the center of Ireland.”

A fierce advocate of preservation, and noted scholar (figuring prominently in the Irish Georgian Society and The Irish Architectural Archive), Fitzgerald was highly instrumental in bringing Irish arts and architecture to the attention of the public, and worked tirelessly to preserve many important properties. One of Fitzgerald’s close friends, antiques dealer extraordinaire Christopher Gibbs, proposed that O’Byrne’s book should be “..a rally cry, an appeal to others to pick up the baton, to follow where Desmond led.” He goes on to say, “none of us can hope to match his energy, his passion, his commitment, and the sheer scope of his scholarship. But we can try to emulate at least some of his attainments. In so doing, we will best pay tribute to a truly splendid Irishman.”

Sign me up! I’m always ready to take part whenever I can help raise awareness for the preservation of architecturally significant buildings.

The Last Knight is a captivating and inspirational book—a perfect firelight read. Do put it on your reading list! Buy it on Amazon here: The Last Knight: A Tribute to Desmond Fitzgerald, 29th Knight of Glin Using our link to Amazon helps keep WIJW going so we can bring you great finds like these!

Oh, and do stay tuned, we’ll be relying heavily on O’Byrne’s great expertise to help in planning an upcoming WIJW tour of Ireland!

♞ ♞ ♞

ON THE ART OF SELF INVENTION

James Andrew - photo Scott McBee

James Andrew – photo Scott McBee

I recently came across these words by Joseph Kennedy: “It’s not what you are, but what people think you are that is important.” My thoughts turned to the concept of self-invention; something akin to Fitzgerald’s iconic “great” Jay Gatsby and the idea of becoming one’s own masterpiece. Of course, we’ll set aside the fact that Fitzgerald’s Gatsby and possibly the Camelot Kennedys (though it is unconfirmed) owed their ascension to the proceeds of rum-running, and concentrate on the fantasy they created for the public!

In an article by our friend the brilliant Robert O’Byrne entitled “The Art of Self-Invention” O’Byrne compares the “Bogus Baron”( Michael Lees) and the “hostess with the mostest” (Elsa Maxwell) with yours truly.

Here’s an excerpt:

Like the faint aroma from an old scent bottle, one can now only pick up a suggestion of what made both Brian de Breffny and Elsa Maxwell note worthy. They belong to another age and when it passed so did their kind. But circumstances have changed of late thanks to technology. To some extent the art of self-creation is harder then was previously the case. Internet anonymity allows users to change age, gender and race- but only for so long as they retain anonymity. In the age of Facebook, Brian Lees could not transform himself into the Baron de Breffny without being unmasked by a so-called friend. Someone on twitter would spitefully remember Elsa Maxwell as a schoolgirl. If you want to devise an alternative persona today, you face the risk of being publicly exposed.

Yet the same internet also allows greater opportunities than were to hand hitherto for treating oneself as a work of art. James Andrew is a New York interior designer. Always something of a dandy, in July 2008 he started a blog called whatisjameswearing.com. As the title implies this is devoted to displaying the author in a constantly changing array of clothes. Since its debut, whatisjameswearing.com has acquired a steadfast following around the world that dandies of previous centuries would envy. What makes the blog distinctive from so many others is precisely the way in which James Andrew uses it as a creative device through which to present a meticulously crafted image of himself. “I like this idea of approaching life almost as a cinematographer,” he told the New York Social Diary in January 2011 before describing his attitude to clothing as a form of celebration: “like when you go to the opera you have these magnificent performers giving you their heart and soul and you’re in this extraordinary place and I think to dress up is to pay everyone respect, to honour the experience of being there.”

Andrew’s display of himself on the internet requires a certain recklessness, not least because he is left with nowhere to hide. He makes no secret of his origins and upbringing; any attempt to do so would quickly become uncovered. But even this degree of honesty offers scant protection from the antagonism of those who argue that no alteration of the character we present to the world is permissible. Ultimately the debate comes down to this: should we treat our identity as a work in progress or something inviolable?

The majority of users employ the internet in a functional fashion, simply as a means of accessing and disseminating information or opinion. But a hand full of people like Andrew have recognized its potential as a tool for self-creation and exploited the opportunities offered.

Self-creation is not the same as self-invention:the second of these involves a measure of dishonesty no longer feasible. But the example of James Andrew proves that today more than ever it is possible for each of us to become our own finest creations, to find an audience for what we have created and unlike Brian de Breffny or Elsa Maxwell, to achieve a degree of immortality.

So very touched by O’Byrne’s exquisite words—I hope you’ll forgive me for sharing pretty much the entirety of them with you!

Celebrating “The Art of Self-Invention” I am sporting a Tom Ford camel silk/cashmere jacket and brown and lavender silk polka dot pocket square, Gucci purple cashmere turtleneck sweater and wool check pants in brown,camel and purple, Tom Ford “Cyrille” sunglasses and saddle leather loafers, vintage Rolex and my fragrance is Tom Ford Oud.

JEAN-CHARLES DE RAVENEL AT THE CHINESE PORCELAIN COMPANY

Collage by Jean- Charles de Ravenel

Work by Jean-Charles de Ravenel

Last year, we were honored to visit the rather ravishing Lyford Cay home of our friends Jean-Charles and Jackie de Ravenel. While there, we were given a first-hand glimpse of the magnificent collages Jean-Charles de Ravenel has been creating, and they’ve been on our minds ever since! And so, as you might imagine, we were beyond thrilled to attend the recent opening of his new show, Cutting Edges, right here in the city at our favorite, Chinese Porcelain Company.

Jean-Charles de Ravenel's Lyford studio

Jean-Charles de Ravenel’s Lyford studio

Work by Jean-Charles de Ravenel

Work by Jean-Charles de Ravenel

Utilizing a unique collection of prints, documents, and photographs, de Ravenel creates striking visual narratives, arranging carefully selected elements to create truly splendid, one-of-a-kind works — here, de Ravenel’s many interests, (from travel to history to fine art and even crystal formation), are arrange and juxtaposed “…to portray the multitude of emotions felt when faced with any particular form of art, civilization or country visited.” Incidentally, these pieces are in the collections of major style icons like Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti, and are quite hotly sought after! That being said, one might want to secure one for yourself or a loved one post haste.

Artist Jean-Charles de Ravenel

Artist Jean-Charles de Ravenel with his piece for Lisa Fine.

Above: a personalized piece de Ravenel made for our mutual friend Lisa Fine, inspired by a trip Fine took with her mother to India. One would be hard pressed to find a more fabulous and more thoughtful gift than a personalized de Ravenel collage!

James Andrew at the de Ravenel show.

James Andrew at the Chinese Porcelain Company’s de Ravenel show.

Do put Cutting Edges first at the top of your gallery visits! Exhibition dates are November 14 to November 22, 2013.

Admiring de Ravenel’s works at the Chinese Porcelain Company, I’m sporting a Tom Ford era Gucci dusty pale grey blue suede biker jacket, wool checked pant, navy leather slip on loafers and black leather tote, cerulian blue cashmere turtleneck sweater by Dolce & Gabbana, vintage Rolex and my fragrance is Creed Original Cologne.

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