Lavish parties like the ones thrown by Charles de Beistegui during his 1950s Venetian ball at the Palazzo Labia seem long-forgotten and part of a forlorn past. The guest list could not have been stricter and was dubbed by Life as “the world’s most blue-blooded and /or richest inhabitants” as told by Nick Foulkes in a recent edition of The Rake Magazine.
The lucky few chosen are said to have spent fortunes with grands couturiers such as Jacques Fath who himself attended ‘the party of the century’ dressed as Louis XIV, le Roi Soleil. Most other soirees pale in comparison with the half billion francs spent by Beistegui for his folly. For garment-lovers like us, we must admit, such occasions to dress at the highest level of formality are less and less evident.
Count on countries with royal families to preserve the occasion of grand soiree—with Great Britain at the forefront and unsuspecting countries such as Serbia (with hosts Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia and event founder Aleksandar Djordjevic).
24 Hours of Elegance is typically held each September in Belgrade. While one rarely hears from Belgrade as a destination location, the country is a blossoming and charming Central European capital with a rich cultural heritage.
Aleksandar defines himself as a lover of beautiful things and I had the occasion to share my passion for tailored suits, Zenith watches and classic cars with him, over a glass of Martell Cordon Bleu. No question, Aleksandar is intent on promoting craftsmanship through the events he organizes in Belgrade, Porto Montenegro and Florence during Pitti Uomo at La Villa Cora or the Four Seasons Hotel.
This particular rendezvous is set at the King’s Palace for the first part of the evening with the glorious front courtyard displaying classic cars dating back to the 1920s.
Climbing the stairs of the palace’s entrance felt royal with charming hostesses leading the way to the ballroom and outdoor gardens filled with guests indulging in a few glasses of liquor and wine.
Standing in the house of a royal family where Marshall Titto famously entertained Elisabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren felt, I must admit, a little bit esoteric.
A private Chivas tasting held in a discreet council room included the excellent company of Peter, the Hereditary Prince of Yugoslavia, Prince Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, Gianluca Migliarotti (O’Mast Director), Antonio Liverano of the eponymous Florentine sartoria, Tommaso Melani (new owner of Stefano Bemer) and many other notable guests.
Beautifully made garments by Liverano and bespoke shoes by Stefano Bemer were on display, competing with Zenith watches and grooming products from Antica Barbiera Colla. Extended shoulders with dartless jacket fronts—the signature of Signore Liverano intrigued even the most dedicated connoisseur of tailoring.
There is a school of tailors whom adapt to the taste of the customers and another school of tailors who don’t veer far from their specific expertise of style. Liverano proudly belongs to the later school of thought and will have the final word when it comes to preserving his particular tailoring style. His garments are elegantly-worn by the rakish likes of Mark Cho, Alan See and Jake Grantham of the Armoury.
As for Stefano Bemer, one can only wonder at the quality of the leather and the design of the shoes. All orders are delivered in a wooden box with the customer’s initials.
Following the cocktail, guests were whisked away in a luxurious Jaguar XF to the Prince’s Palace for the Charity Gala Dinner. Each guest proved to be intriguing, providing endless opportunities to share anecdotes, sartorial tales and other (sometimes unexpected) stories after one too many glasses of Remy Martell in the underground royal cinema of the Palace, channeling an upscale bohemian-like evening to remember.
On a side note, Belgrade deserves a long weekend and will undoubtedly surprise the most well-traveled gents and ladies, including the Square Nine Hotel that I wrote about in recent article for the Rake.