Elizabeth Taylor’s “Sweet little shop on the via dei Condotti,” bid arrivaderci, Roma to bring its signature sparkle to San Francisco. “THE ART OF BVLGARI: La Dolce Vita and Beyond, 1950-1990” polishes the luster of the Italian jewelry house with a museum exhibit that doubles as a visit to the vaults of the fabulous and famous. The show, which runs at the DeYoung Museum through March, 2013, opened with a gala dinner where the cognoscenti and belle genti made merry.
The evening began with rose champagne and cocktails under Fellini films screened high atop the Wilsey Court, presided over by La Presidentessa, Signora Wilsey herself, resplendent in an embellished pink and emerald Oscar de la Renta gown, with an emphasis on the emeralds.
Chairman Nicola Bulgari represented the brand in fine form, noting that he remembered his father’s assembly of the exhibition’s dramatic “Seven Wonders” emerald necklace as an important milestone of his childhood.
Just before McCall’s pull-out-the-stops five courses of dinner accompanied by delectable Antinori wines, Fine Arts Museums’ Director Colin Bailey welcomed guests with an erudite greeting that noted in his tenure in San Francisco, “this is my first tent.” He acknowledged exhibition sponsors Yuri and Carl Pascarella, Denise Hopper Fitch, Jeri Dexter, and Dr. Alan Malouf, just back from a birthday soiree with the Gutfriends and Hiltons.
Other exhibition supporters were acknowledged as “Serpenti,” which in this case meant they enabled the exhibition to snake its way West. They included Juliet de Baubigny, Billy Getty with Vanessa Getty encircled by her own diamond snake, Suzy Dominik in Dolce Gabbana and a Codognato suite of deviled skulls worth crossing Condotti for, David and Mary Beth Shimmon in Bulgari sapphire of Taylor proportions, Mr. and Mrs. William Hamilton, Jan Shrem and the original dolce vita donna, Maria Manetti Shrem, Jeana Toney and Boris Putanec, Lonna Wais, and Trustee Trevor Traina with wife Alexis, her bella figura accented by a posh parure of emeralds.
The Bulgari brand was embellished by its special trio of actress-ambassadresses: newlyweds Kate Bosworth with her handsome husband Michael Polish, coquettish China Chow, and double-Academy Award Winner Hilary Swank, who was seen employing her “Million Dollar Baby” skills in lively debate over dinner with Paul Pelosi.
Bulgari was well represented by its beloved SF store manager Daniel Diaz, co-curator Amanda Triossi, Veronica Bulgari, and brand executive Jean Christophe Babin. Bulgari stalwarts Lucia Boscaini, and Christian de Guigna, accompanied by Alison de Guigna, represented the Romans in fine style.
The Fine Arts Museums also brought out their best, including the always genial Deputy Director Richard Benefield and delightful John Kunowski, exhibition curator Martin Chapman, textile curator Jill D’Alessandro, and special projects magician Lisa Podos.
Alison Speer appeared resplendent in a jewel-printed Peter Som gown, along with Barbara Brown, Phil Pemberton with Deepa Pakanathian in Galanos, C Magazine’s Jennifer Hale and Elizabeth Varnell, the partypatetic Ken Fulk, Maggie Rizer Mehran and Alex Mehran, Patricia Ferrin Loucks, Ivan Bechichev, Elizabeth Fullerton, Karen Caldwell, Suzanne and Carson Levit, the lithe and lovely Lindsay Bolton, a chic Ann Fisher with her sweetie Bob Fisher, Stephanie Ejabat, John and Lisa Grotts, James Krohn, Victoire and Owsley Brown, Dick Kramlich with a pearl-perfect Pam Kramlich, Gregory and Charlot Malin, Carol and Shelby Bonnie, Zenaida Costa-Mitchell and Tom Mitchell, trustee Belva Davis and William Moore, Hugo Barra, Kate Harbin Clammer, Evie Simon, and Doug and Lisa Goldman in a symphony of sapphire sequins to match Bulgari’s best.
Also on the Roman holiday: George and Dolly Chammas, John Bradfield, Joy Venturini Bianchi, Jacqui Getty, Fati Farmanfarmaian wearing a vintage gown that has fit her since she had a curfew, Karen Sutherland stunning in sapphires, Alex Chases, Lorna Meyer Calas and Dennis Calas, Joel Goodrich, Lorre Erlick, Dave and Kate Chung, Leigh Matthes, Christine Suppes, Dr. Seth Matarasso, Tatiana Sorokko, Elizabeth Theriot in her own gemological wonders, Athena and Timothy Blackburn, Phoebe Cowles and Robert Girard, and the evening’s most extravagantly dressed and aptly named, Norah and Norman Stone. And a dolce notte was had by all.