Ferragamo Goes Maritime at the James B. Duke Mansion

emma Ferragamo Goes Maritime at the James B. Duke Mansion

Emma Roberts

The stemmed heels of sculpted Ferragamos had come to rest beside the seats, the rows of them arranged under the marble heaven built–with no eye for subtlety but two for grandeur–by tobacco baron James B. Duke a hundred years ago. Part of the mob outside clamoring forTwilight star Ashley Green had trotted off with slung heads but part of it stayed, waiting beside a paparazzo or publicist for a peek at the glamour that would later exit.  The women had long gowns and walked, Bellini in hand, past the ivory busts of cherubim flanking the walls, past portraiture of old lords, past explosions of plum-colored flowers, past the grand staircase. And then they were at their seats.

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world,” Bogart’s disembodied voice said over thumped paddlings of tom-tom drums, “she walked into mine.”

Walk she did — the models wearing the maritime-leaning Nauto-erotica that is each season’s Resort collection dragged tan gowns and diamond pendants through the halls of the Upper East Side architectural gem,  the feeling in the air of other times, of older elegance. Smoke gets in your eyesthe voice said. The fundamental things apply the voice said. Some getta kick from cocaine the voice said. Like the house, not a bit of subtlety–why leave things to one’s imagination?

“Washy Duke, he’s a grandson, he was the most crunchy and grungy guy,” the woman next to The Observer said, apropos of nothing. Yes, they had prepped together, her and Washy Duke. Could she have been the only person in the room who knew one of those titans of the old south? (Full disclosure: The Observer spent our undergraduate years at the university endowed by the mansion’s namesake, the university he named for his father, Washington Duke.) The family did, after all, have much to do with day’s festivities–the daughter of James Buchanan Duke, Doris, provided an inspiration for Ferragamo creative director Massimiliano Giornetti as he conjured the feel of the show.

“As Times Goes By” came back on over the speakers, the models brought the brash profusions of silks back to the makeshift runway and The Observer walked outside, where the crowd of rubberneckers had assembled anew there on that patch of Millionaire’s Row.  Emma Roberts came out–whoosh the cameras swooped down. Frieda Pinto–whoosh! Minka Kelly — whoosh! And then the fanatically now Ms. Green — whoosh, whoosh, whooshThe Observer ducked out, bummed a cigarette from a reporter at Women’s Wear and went to The Carlyle, for the after party.

“It made me want to go and get on a yacht,” Ms. Roberts said to The Observer. “It was right up my alley. It felt very summertime.” Ms. Roberts had brought her small entourage of L.A. girls to the hotel’s small lounge, with The Carlyle’s tinny twenties jazz, with caviar, with foie gras, all that stuff. The Observer had had an Italian 75 already, and some champagne. Ms. Roberts, who is 20, was drinking something with a lime floating in it. Like the show, Emma Roberts also feels very summertime. She’s going to London soon. London’s one of her favorite cities. She’s not going to work while she’s there.

Then she headed out to hit her apartment and hang out with her friend, Camille. They’ll watch a movie. Oh, to be twenty.

“It looked really beautiful!” said socialite Lauren Remington Platt.

“Breathtaking, magnificent, absolutely beautiful, phenomenal!” said socialite Olivia Sandelman.

All this must have pleased James Ferragamo, the designer’s grandson, who arrived at The Carlyle late. He was very  sharply dressed and had no issue in having two iconic American settings–the Duke Mansion, The Carlyle–as the venues for his very European show.

“The first two collections my grandfather made were in the nineteen-twenties in Hollywood,” Mr. Ferragamo said. ” “We had the first show that was out of Italy here, in the United States.”

And then he walked out the front door where, on opposite sides, pictures of President Kennedy and his wife Jackie–each standing in that very entrance way–greeted those coming in and escorted out those leaving.