Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Willow Manor Ball

With so many upsetting news in the media today [1] [2] [3] [4] [5], I really need to switch off for a moment and indulge in a bit of pleasant frivolity."Because I'm worth it!" Blah, blah, blah! Bah.

So... I'm just about to leave for the Third Annual Willow Manor Ball, that most exciting of cyber events that everyone has been talking about in the blogosphere for the past few weeks.

As my husband is away and I wouldn’t dream of going on my own, I’ve invited a dear friend of mine to be my date for the night. He isn't famous - I wouldn't even dream of being escorted by a celebrity - but I haven’t seen him in almost three years and I miss him terribly. The Ball is the perfect opportunity to meet up and have some fun again. I can barely wait to catch up (indeed it will be the highlight of the evening for me). He’s a marvellous and very accommodating dancer, as charming, witty, and good humoured as the best of them. Not bad looking, either, with his silver streaked auburn hair and deep set golden-brown eyes that light up a room when they smile. We've had numerous good times together and endless discussions about life, religion, philosophy and politics that have deeply shaped my beliefs and ethical values. A brilliant guy whose Jewish parents escaped Hitler by a hair's-breadth in the 1940's and set up home in Portugal. Quite a family story, intimately entwined with the history of Europe (from the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century right up to the Holocaust). 

But enough said about my wonderful, long-time-no-see date, now I want to tell you about my attire.

After much consideration, I decided that - because a certain degree of poetic liberty is allowed for this event and because both my date and I love Vienna and its waltzes - my dress would have to be inspired by that of Empress Elizabeth of Austria in her most celebrated portrait:


So, after pulling a lot of strings (in more than one sense), I’ve managed to borrow the dress Romy Schneider wore when she played Sissi in 1955 and fit perfectly into it (oh the joys of a tight corset! ). After hours of torment, my hair is now made up like hers, abundant, glossy and adorned with twenty-seven sparkling diamond stars (no, not uncomfortable at all !). I've dabbed on some Fantasia de Fleurs by Creed  and I'm trusting my feet will stay snug and comfortable in the Rudolf Scheer & Söhne shoes I had especially made for the occasion.

As I prepare to dance the night away to the sound of Strauss, I look and feel quite the princess.

I'm looking forward to mingling a bit with the crème-de-la-crème attending this magical gala Willow is hosting with such sophistication and grandeur. But only when I'm too tired to dance with my much missed friend whom I had to part with so unexpectedly three years ago. I might not mingle at all...

Mourning Fan


Niamh said...

Your date sounds pretty special.
And the dress is so elegant! Must have been a lot of strings! Good choice! The fan is sumptous! To mingle or not to mingle, that is the question!

Ruth said...

I admire your choice of escort, eschewing a celebrity, good for you. Dancing is just conversation in motion, and when there is such meaningful feeling between the people dancing, what could be better?

I hope you have . . . a ball!

And I'm so glad you decided to play, in spite of, or because of, the sad horrors of the world, which will go on and on.

Karen said...

Hi Claudia - I've just found your blog via Willow Manor and have spent a happy short time having a look round (though I should, in fact, be working!). I am not, technically, Portuguese, but also consider myself to be Portuguese at heart, having been born in Angola and spent large parts of my childhood in Lisbon. I did a big chunk of my schooling at St Julian's in Carcavelos, spent summers in the Algarve, and also came to know and love many parts of the north. Lisbon (along with Cape Town, where I lived more recently) is my favourite place in the world. I found so many other coincidences even just skimming your blog: I also live in Buckinghamshire, am an expat, share a lot of your taste in books (have Saramago's 'Seeing'next in line to read - in English, as though I have conversational Portuguese it's not up to literary level), and share your opinions on both Ed Miliband and Downton Abbey! I started blogging myself only a few months ago, and tend to use it as a more light-hearted escape (since I work in academia and need light relief!) as well as a place to put my photos. Sorry - this has been a long story, but I was excited to find your blog, look forward to seeing more of it and hope you will pop over to mine.

Yoli said...

Lovely! Always remember that the fan has another language which can be used to one's advantage.

Helen said...

OH YES! Just like a princess ... the men could not take their eyes off you! When my escort insisted on one dance with you I was happy to oblige.

rauf said...

Elegant but takes a while to get dressed Claudia and you need the help of three maids. Sargent's Lady Agnew is always my favourite. Not very simple, very elegant and graceful. Is that satin Claudia, the dress Lady Agnew is wearing ?
You can see in google images 'lady Agnew of Lochnaw'

Another favourite is Winterhalter's Madam Rimsky.

she actually appears in 'War & Peace' She looks well fed and you are very slim.

João said...

I was about to write : hope you had a ball, Claudia !
(Then I tought on what Scott Fitzgerald said about second chances and the common saying about not to return to a place where you've been happy...perhaps you really should move on, look ahead, be Sissy and find a suitable emperor to all your glitz and glamour.).
You are a true connaisseur and have an exquisite taste.

willow said...

Claudia, you are stunning this evening, and I do believe quite the rival of Mary Todd Lincoln, who arrived a little while ago on the arm of her son Robert. The ball is a twitter over you and your exquisite date!

AngelMay said...

Love the dress, roses, fan! You are lovely!

Claudia said...

Thank you, y'all. I did have a ball and enjoyed mingling (and occasionally dancing) with Willow's guests. Now it's back to the nitty-gritty of daily business.