Fulco di Verdura, though he flits through style icon hagiography, and Billy Baldwin's autobiography, has never really impinged too much on my consciousness. Of course, I knew he designed jewelry but not being fascinated by that particular form of quincaillerie, I wasn't all that curious about him. That is no longer so, for besides my liking for his "Night and Day" cufflinks, Verdura is a link in circles within circles - he knew Roderick Cameron, in whose house - almost a clearing house of talented gay men it seems to me - he met Tom Parr who had partnered with David Hicks who knew Wright Ludington and Hermes, Messenger of the Gods, employed Mark Hampton, and decorated Roderick Cameron's Le Clos Fiorentina for Sao Schlumberger, a house that eventually came to be owned by Hubert de Givenchy, the great friend of Walter Lees, who appears in one of Nancy Mitford's books, through whom I was introduced to Lord Mullion, and who was a confidant of the Windsors who were, in their turn, chums of the Mosleys, and knew Billy Baldwin's great friend, Van Day Truex at whose house in Menerbes Billy MacCarty was photographed in the years before he met Douglas Cooper at Henry McIlhenny's house in Philadelphia - a house in which hung a portrait of the Comtesse de Tournon through whom I came to learn of Alexander Baillie and Jørgen von Capellen Knudtzon. James Lees-Milne very likely wrote about many of them - except perhaps for Arthur Smith, Andrew Crispo, Joe Cable, Ruben de Saavedra, William Gaylord, and Kalef Alaton.
"He spent most of his time in London, however, in the city in which Tom Parr, whom he met in 1954 at Lady Kenmare's Villa Fiorentina on the Riviera, lived and worked. Tom had just set up an interior design decorating business with David Hicks, which he soon left for Colefax and Fowler, where he was president until his retirement in 1995. Their relationship was to last until Verdura's death, when Tom took his ashes back to Sicily. It was also in London that, as he was leaving a dinner given by Daisy Fellowes in Belgrave Square, he suffered a serious road accident that was gradually to erode his health. In the 1950s, Verdura started to paint, thereby returning to a youthful passion. Caricatures of his friends were his forte, along with humorous miniatures. It was this light wit, ever present in his conversation and his creations, that encapsulated the charm of the man who himself embodied all that the Old World could bring to the New: a name sonorous with history, immense knowledge, education, and natural chic."
I found a lovely quote in Patricia Corbett's excellent book about Verdura's life and work - the ideal thing to end a post about connections, and it made me laugh.
"Hearing that the daughter of David Hicks and Pamela Mountbatten had been christened India, he suggested helpfully that the next child might be called 'Suburbia, after the father's side.'"
Photographs of Tom Parr's house by James Mortimer to accompany text by Min Hogg for The World of Interiors, February 1988.
Quotation from Cafe Society: Socialites, Patrons, and Artists 1920 to 1960, Thierry Coudert, Flammarion, Paris 2010.
Quotation about David Hicks from Verdura: The Life and Work of a Master Jeweler, Patricia Corbett, Harry N Abrams, 2002.