By Bimbo de Burgoyne y los Lobos
Contreras in Paris
All on a silvery November evening, some weeks after my return
from Pennsylvania, a courier knocked at the palace gates. The
parchment that he delivered was addressed in blood-red calligraphy,
and at first glance, I was sure that it was a death warrant from
the White House. But oh no. On closer inspection, the handwriting
What could this be? A letter from Stepmoney
from her spa in Vichy? A postcard from Giant John in grief counseling
The possibilities were perplexing.
I opened it carefully, my hands trembling in anticipation.
Horror of horrors - it was a summons from THE
A date, an address, a subpoena to appear at Casa Armani on Lake Como. But
most sinister of all - a crooked index finger, stamped by the seal:
Veni, Vidi, Vici.
what was I to do? Normally I'm not one to respond to a man's finger,
but in this case, not wanting to find a dead horse in my Louis
XVI canapé bed, I called
up Alitalia and made a reservation.
Now, I do like Italians - and Catherine de Medici did, after all, introduce
the fork to the French (previously the aristocracy followed the custom of the
English court - grabbing meat by the bone and then throwing the remains on
the straw floor). But from a fashion point of view,
it's all so Guido down there that one is never sure how many rhinestones
is too much. And they all
talk so loud, it gives me a headache. Nonetheless, this was an offer I could
I was met at the airport by the Godfather's manservant, Signore Giacamo Faggiolini,
and driven to the lakefront compound. Evening had fallen, and a banquet was
soon held in a long, rectangular room lined by black torches, flames leaping
towards the ceiling.
The Godfather sat at the end of a long, granite table, Signore Faggiolini to
his right, and his goddaughter, Francesca, to his left. Tiers of candles dripped
silently in black holders.
Godfather clapped his hands, and a team of finely sculpted 20-something waiters
brought silver trays laden with parmesan, proscuitto, antipasta, pasta and
tutti fruiti, accompanied by bowls of water, floated with pink rose petals. I
was thinking how the late Frugal Gourmet would have so enjoyed the evening, not to mention the four young servers: Giovanni, Giorgio, Giambattista and
Gianni, who looked to have already been put through their paces in the pantry.
Godfather chatted about the weather, about the falling dollar, about home improvement,
and about the local trout, but none of this could possibly explain why I was
so abruptly brought from Paris. As soon as the last plum had been dipped into
cool rose water, Godfather clapped his hands - the boys scurried away like
fireflies on a summer night, and goddaughter Francesca disappeared into an
And then it was time for business.
Godfather beckoned me to come sit beside Signore Faggiolini. After he wiped
his mouth with a white linen cloth, he began to mumble.
"They say I'm old. I'm passed it," he whispered. "I've read it all in the magazines."
His voice then took on a threatening tone. "They're gonna pay for
that insult! I'm the KING of Italian fashion! I don't give a xxxx what all those SOBs
write. I've got the money. I've got the power. And I've got the name!"
He sipped his Valpolicella. "It's time to teach them all a lesson. You've got
Vino prancing around with more hairspray in his bouffe than That Girl. And
he's still showing the same red toga he sold to Jackie back in 68. Then, you've
got Vace running through her brother's money faster than W. can bankrupt the
US Treasury. And look what she's done, not only to his name - but the
ozone layer, for christsakes. All that peroxide on her hair must have given
off enough fumes to have brought global warming up 10 degrees."
He coughed here, choosing his words carefully. "Then, you've got Viano, that
cockney queen pretending to be descended from Italian aristocracy. He can't
keep coke out of his nose, or xxxx out of his xxxx. And just look at those
pieces he calls couture - I saw transvestites in Key West wearing the same
slop. So guess what - I'm going to beat all those Sonny boys at their own
game. I'm going to Paris and show couture in January."
He paused long enough to observe my reaction, then forged ahead. "What does
it take anyway? You pick one of my 80s loan shark suits
off a Hollywood pretty boy, cut the size, and put it on a skinny coke-head model and call it the
reinvention of Saint Laurent's tuxedo. You take pink silk, throw on some
crystal embroidery and tell 'em it's the reincarnation of Dior's new look.
Throw a bolero over the top of a Gap cocktail dress and say it's the soul
of Balenciaga. I wasn't born yesterday, I know these things."
He coughed again. Then he picked up his crystal wineglass, draining the last
"I've always had problems with that crew up in Paris, and so I've decided to
show my line off-calendar. Can't you imagine it - old Diddle Humbug will choke
on his morning bagel when he find outs. He's been dancing around for years
saying couture isn't dying, while each season they're all buggering off faster
than a xxxx. He's had his fingers in more holes than the little Dutch boy, but
the dyke is still about to bust. So now he's going out on the street trying to
get it wherever he can."
The candles had burnt down to stubs, as Godfather reached for a cigar. "I'll
put my show on at the Ritz, invite only 300 of the most snooty editors I
can find - you know the type - the ones with the their nose up their xxxx
and not a penny in their pocket. They'll think they're something special
that way. I'm gonna ask the IHT queen, and then ah, Weenie, now that his
wire's been cut. Of course, your name will be on the list too. The hell with
the ladies to buy any of it - this is only for show, anyway."
His smoke rose up into the darkness.
"Now - I want a good review, do you hear what I'm telling to you? I
want Vino, Vace, and Viano smeared from one end of the planet to the other - and I know
you're just the mouthpiece to do it."
He nestled back in his leather chair, cured from whale testicles, and began
to scrutinize my reaction. Thinking me in the palm of his hand, he went right
for the Achilles heel.
"So," he said. "I'm going to offer you something for your pleasure. You can have
one of the boys to take back to Paris. Whichever one you want, ah, except Giorgio
- he's going to Anna. In return, I want my story told to the world. I'm
the KING OF FASHION. And nobody better say otherwise!" He snuffed out his cigar.
"So, can we do business here?"
He stretched out his right hand, which came down like a vice. As he had me
in a cul-de-sac, I quietly nodded my acquiescence, then fled his casa for my
return flight home.
It's now the Yuletide season in Paris, and Giambattista is happily curled up
on a chaise longue beside the tree, his new Louis Vuitton midnight-blue
smoking jacket subtly shimmering in the light.
And since Godfather kept his promise to me, and I've now kept mine to him,
it's time to open the nice bottle of Roderer Cristal that is on ice.
Fa, la, la, la, la - la, la, la, la