Because love begins with a gaze.
La Mappa dell’Impero Romano, at the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine.
Rome, Italy. Part II of IV – DK
His inspiration for the Mulberry Eva stemmed from their visit to the medieval town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the Italian Alps, anno domini 1997. They lodged at the Hotel Cortina on Corso Italia 92, favorably located in the centre of town. Following a day of the skillful navigation of Alpine trees, adorned high atop ivory powdered slopes, they would rendezvous at his mountain retreat, 1,224 meters above sea level. In anticipation of their frigid arrival was roasted duck, a 1982 Château Haut-Brion, and a stone fireplace, built of medieval masonry.
It was an audacious chesterfield of red velvet, eight-way hand tied, and finished with a lockstitch of white silk. The frame was Ceylon ebony, which he sculpted by hand, into a formidable support to accommodate the breadth of silks and goose feathers he was to employ. Within the crimson cushions of the back support, he utilized gold thread to embroider a symmetrical series of the fleur-de-lis. Such appliqué, the embroidery in particular, was not a task for the abrupt. The work required the skill of a still hand, which had consumed a considerable portion of his days, since he insisted upon the use of natural light in his work. All foretold, the construction would outlast the winter.
Still, he was undeterred.
For he was akin to those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed.
As the helicopter continued its ascent over the French principality, Maxwell continued his gaze over the snow covered Alps in the distance, the apricot embers of a foregone fireplace, still adept at keeping him warm.
Implode. Part LXXXIII – DK
Prelude to an embrace.
La mappa dell’Impero Romano, at the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine.
Rome, Italy. Part I of IV – DK
It was not until she observed the hour upon her Ballon Bleu de Cartier, that she fully realised the newness of the day. It was 7:07 a.m. to be certain and the sky was obscured by a grey veil of fog. Even so, she was not disenchanted, as there was a subtlety to the calamity between Apollo and the shade. From the helipad, it appeared as though the sky might clear, giving way to a crystal morning on the Côte d’Azur. And yet, despite his renown, the overwhelm of moisture laden clouds was not to be outdone by the god’s incandescent brilliance. Claire Mulberry continued to stare out onto the horizon. She was entranced by the particular quality of the tide and the manner in which the sea foam found its way ashore. She observed, intoxicated by the spirited waves, accompanied by the wind, as they swept the mist against the coastline. The spectacle was continuous, the vapor becoming synonymous with the air, as though a whisper of the Nereids were lost upon the plume.
And as she sat within the leather comfort of the EC 135, the Hermès interior an aromatic reminder of their current locale, she continued to contemplate an eternity within her husband’s embrace, the genius of his hands, and the profoundness of her love, which was far deeper than the Mediterranean beyond the aircraft windows. As the helicopter prepared its ascent, she gave her thoughts even more leisure to roam. In fact, she thought of Rome, the simplicity of Florentine cuisine, and their suite at the Plaza Athènèe in Paris, where the duplex accommodations with sweeping views of the city, provided inexplicable comfort on 31 December, as they celebrated the dawn of a new year.
She loved New Year’s Eve in Paris. They both did. It had become tradition.
So had the Hotel Du Cap. However, an appearance upon its secluded beaches had generally been reserved for mid-summer.
Still, she did not question him.
Nor his love.
Which she knew to be far greater
Than the Mediterranean, beyond the aircraft windows.
Implode. Part LXXXII – DK
A place to call home.
Il Palazzo Vecchio.
Florence, Italy. Grand beginnings – DK
Because beauty does not recognize time.
The corridors of il Colosseo.
Rome, Italy. Timeless – DK
Without the accolades.
The global admiration.
Or the reverent regard, of prince and pauper alike.
Without the homes.
The exotic carriages.
The wind swept villas, situated high above ocean cliffs,
Or the English Baroque castles, to which his name was betrothed.
Without the caviar.
The masterpiece canvasses.
The marble antiquities.
Or the 500 year-old bottles of wine.
Without the gems.
The vestiges of gold.
Or the Bvlgari trinkets.
And without the warmth of sunlight.
She would love him still.
For he would still be Max Mulberry.
Implode. Part LXXXI – DK
When I was in London…
The entrance at Hyde park.
London, England. Always – DK
Following a rigorous morning of 18 holes, the remainder of the day would find them at sea, sailing from Valencia to Deià. Maxwell and Etienne had watched their friend birdie the final three holes of the course at El Saler, for a score of six under par. It was an exceptional performance and one that was later celebrated at Can Lluc, with seared sea bass and a 1962 Dom Pérignon. And though the Frenchman was particular in his pursuit of rare tenderloin and a 1982 Château Margaux, no such luxuries were to be found on the island. With the skiff moored at seashore’s edge and Maxwell and Benjamin sufficiently imbibed, Etienne found himself alone in his quest for the type of sustenance that would satiate an enlightened carnivore. Defeated, he succumbed to his alternate motto of When in Rome and made an entreaty for the fresh water lobster. The crustacean was lightly peppered, salted, and seared in a raw cream butter sauce, per his request.
And as they lounged within the rustic comfort of the outdoor Balearic brasserie, surrounded by the clear water cove and ocean jutting cliffs, Maxwell, Benjamin, and Etienne, along with their fellow diners, would revel in the dinner theatre of the setting sun. It was a calming spectacle, the red embers casting a somnolent glow over the medieval town. And though the cosmic show left the gallery of beach goers in awe, Benjamin’s attention was accosted by the brilliance of the Spaniard beauty, seated on the beach below.
Benjamin blinked, returning to the island of Manhattan, where the sun was preparing to set once more.
“I’m sorry,” the taxi driver interrupted. “Which street was it again?”
Benjamin blinked again, attempting to acquaint himself with his current surroundings. However, the redolence of his past and the crimson haze, now spilling over the city, had proved too much to bear.
“Do you remember?” the gruff cabbie inquired again.
“That’s all I do.”
Implode. Part LXXX – DK
Since they would encounter again at Columbus Circle, in the place where he had confessed truth, unbridled admiration, and his first faux pas, Benjamin would make his way south, to seek out the architect, for his well renown insight into the social arts.
As he made his approach in the burnished calfskin boot, from the modernity of the elevator, onto the serenity of the Burmese floors, he was met by the mesmeric allure of the Scandinavian beauty, Ms. Olsson. She paused in her work to observe the evolving figure, over wire-framed spectacles. She took note of his Gucci pea coat, which was appropriate over a tee-shirt and denim, made possible by Ralph Lauren. Gone was the woolly beard and unkempt hair. His manner was calm and deliberate. And though he was not the same disheveled creature of their first encounter, he had yet to become himself.
“Mr. Grey,” She began with a smile.
“Ben,” he insisted. “Just Ben is fine.”
Ms. Olsson took note of his preferential designation, with an acknowledging nod of the eyes. She then began to rise from the titanium swivel, which was reluctant to part with her person, and made her way toward the opposite side of the loft. And though her gait warranted the captivation of an audience, Benjamin allowed his thoughts to be otherwise concerned by the harmonious accord of the SoHo office, meticulously crafted by his well-mannered friend. He became lost in the appointments and the seemingly effortless manner by which they were composed. As he continued his cerebral circumvention of the space, his demeanor was overtaken by a sensational calm. He closed his eyes and for a moment, the details of his current persona or those of his former self, were insignificant.
Ms. Olsson, having arrived near the luminous French windows, turned to observe the noble wanderer, who was now suspended in a dream.
“He should have been a conductor.”
Benjamin opened his eyes.
“Pardon?” Ms. Olsson wondered.
“Max.” Benjamin continued. “The way he puts things together. The way he orchestrates. He should have been…”
He was unable to find the words. Ms. Olsson rescued him.
Benjamin still lost in his thoughts, though content with his assertion, smiled.
“Is he here?”
“Mr. Mulberry is away at the moment. However, he wanted to make certain that you wanted for nothing in his absence.”
She stood beside a metallic clothing trestle, where two garment totes idled patiently.
Benjamin appeared confused.
“I don’t understand.”
“This is for going out…”
Ms. Olsson unzipped the first of the two garment totes, both emblazoned with the Tom Ford moniker across the portage. Ensconced within was the black Wetherby jacket, accompanied by a black classic tailored pant, both of silk and linen. There were also black crocodile shoes to match.
“This for staying in…”
She unleashed the second, to reveal a flower dressing gown, of charcoal grey and cream chine. It was plush, complete with piping details. The leisurely robe was accompanied by a white evening shirt, with French cuffs and jeweled links by Deakin & Francis. Also within the garment tote was the ivory twill, fluid-linen pant. And though provided…
“Mr. Mulberry said that the white suede espadrilles were optional.”
Benjamin diverted his attention from the silk trove of gifts to behold Ms. Olsson, who smiled. As he attempted to comprehend the uncanny foresight of his friend’s generosity, the viking beauty made a return to the Bolivian desk. She opened a compartment within the handcrafted table and removed an envelope of midnight blue. The velvet stationary, embossed in 24 karat gold trim and soft to the touch, bore the architect’s personal emblem.
“And this.” Ms. Olsson continued.
She presented the signature stationary to the de Gris Laurent heir, in an outstretched hand.
Benjamin observed the envelope carefully, before inspecting the Swedish siren, with circumspection. He then accepted the ornate parcel, tearing it open, to reveal an onyx American Express Centurion Card.
Benjamin held the anotized titanium within his bewildered grasp, turning to behold Ms. Olsson once more.
“And this?” he inquired.
The Scandinavian beauty smiled.
“As you like.”
Implode. Part LXXIX – DK