a committed aesthete

Alexis Dieter Rudolf Oscar von Rosenberg, 3rd Baron de Redé (1922 – 2004) was a prominent aristocratic aesthete, collector of French 17th and 18th-century furnishings and socialite both in European circles and in New York.

image found here

The Baron de Redé was a committed aesthete. His life was dedicated to manners, protocol, museum-quality collecting and entertaining on a hugely imaginative scale. In 1949, he moved into the ground floor of the 17th century Hôtel Lambert in Paris and restored the building and its décor.

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Redé’s notoriety rested on being the best-kept man in Paris: his wealth derived from his lover Arturo Lopez-Willshaw, whose staggering wealth was derived from guanoRedé had met Lopez-Wilshaw, who was married to his own cousin, Patricia, in a New York City restaurant. “I was not in love,” Redé recalled, “but I needed protection, and I was aware that he could provide this.

image found here

In 1956 he hosted the Bal des Têtes, introducing an unknown named Yves Saint Laurent to Paris society through the decorations and confectionary headpieces of plumes and paillettes that the baron had commissioned. Thirteen years later he bested himself with the Bal Oriental, complete with life-size papier-mâché elephants, a cabaret à la Turc and bare-chested bodybuilders brandishing flaming torches and costumed as Nubian slaves. One guest came dressed as a pagoda; her costume was so big and rigid that she had to be hauled in on a truck and was unable to sit down.

image found here

Among his other peccadilloes, the baron was severely repulsed by men who crossed their legs to expose a sun-starved length of calf; he thought it bad taste to speculate as to who might or might not have good taste; and he held that nothing less than a whole rose head per finger bowl would do, petals being for concierges.

green rose found here

Even more astonishing was his insistence that platters of food look the same at the close of a soiree as at the beginning. No picked-over fish frames, gouged mounds of pilaf or drooling aspics. “It does not matter if people do not eat the food at the end of the evening, as there are always others you can give it to.”

Recounting a dinner given by ballet impresario Marquis de Cuevas, the baron notes the presence of a “coloured” orchestra. Elsewhere his attention is diverted by a “good-looking but boring man, remembered for a diminutive posterior.” As Alexis had a nearly negative sex drive, it must have really been something.

Sonny Clay band found here

De Rede’s own position was that the only person he ever loved was a randy Polish classmate at his prep school who bedded every boy and farm girl he could lure into the hayloft. The baron never acted on his love, which seems sad, but he did keep good company. Prince Rainier and the future Shah of Persia were fellow pupils.

Rainier and Grace found here

In 1962, Redé inherited half of Lopez-Wilshaw’s fortune; and, to manage it he joined Prince Rupert zu Loewenstein in taking control of a bank where he served as Deputy Chairman. With Loewenstein, he was closely involved in managing the money of the Rolling Stones. Though the Stones’s music was obviously not his cup of tea, he did go on tour with them and was at least able to talk shoes with Charlie Watts.

Charlie Watts buys his handmade shoes here

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47 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. oh, dear… NOT a drooling aspic…. dreadful!

    • the only thing worse than a drooling aspic is a used tissue

      • Eeewww!

  2. I wonder whether people at that ball talked about the life-size papier-mâché elephants in the room.

    • Oh no, I don’t think that would have been in good taste at all

  3. What a beautiful rose – can’t believe it’s real

    • It’s a stunner isn’t it?

  4. Dressed as a pagoda… definitely something to talk about. :)

    • Yeah. Why oh why.

      • because it was possible?

  5. I have, on occasion, been known to dress as a tepee and yet NO ONE invites me to their extravagant soirees!

    • Apparently tepees are passe this year

  6. Yeah, Charlie knows his shoes. A fine jazzer btw.

    • i didn’t know he was a shoester but it doesn’t surprise me

  7. His life was dedicated to manners

    Wouldn’t a mannered man know to button up his damn shirt?

    • Better he had removed that gaudy thing altogether and replace it with something elegant as befitting an aesthete.

      • you tell him syncy!!

      • That was my thought as well. Pretty horrid for someone with his reputation.

  8. With a fortune is based on bat sh*t (guano), I think he made good use of it.

  9. With a fortune based on bat sh*t (guano), I think he made good use of it.

    • you don’t have to use asterisks here Nick ;-)

  10. And here I thought I was the only one who was grossed out by sun-starved calves…

    • Oh no, I’ve met at least thirty other people who suffer the same affliction. It’s practically an epidemic

      • But,but…my lower legs just don’t tan. :-(

  11. You have covered many like this, eccentrics with vast wealth. It all seems unfair that such fortune does not fall more frequently to those who would use it for meaningful and charitable purposes instead of self indulgent frivolity.

    • I think the truly generous wealthy folk don’t shout about their charitable acts. I’ve read obituaries of rich folk who I’d never even heard of who did much good.

      • Reading obituaries is one of my guilty pleasures

  12. I’m surprised that they didn’t get shoes from John Lobb!

    • I had to google him. nice work.

  13. The world you show us is bat-guano crazy…and, yet, it’s also business as usual for the human race. I’d love to do a nice, long interview and ask you questions about how these researches affect your view of mankind vs. how your view of mankind has influenced the subject matter of your researches. And how our world views diverge as a result of our experiences. Gimcrack Hospital is unique.

    • I don’t think my views have changed too much since I started blogging. Though perhaps there is more weirdness out there than I first suspected. I try and diversify the subject matter as much as possible but sometimes it seems I do a lot of posts about strange murders.

      Maybe now I see the possibility of murderous impulses in everybody, though relatively few follow through on them. I’m glad you like the stories Nance, makes the hours of research worthwhile.

  14. “a good looking but boring man remembered for a diminutive posterior …”

    So much more poetic than my version which is “uptight little shortarse”. Must remember that one for future use. =)

  15. I’m an aesthete who should be committed.

  16. repulsed by men that cross their legs?
    why, i’m repulsed by men that HAVE legs.

  17. He seems like a rather eccentric man doesn’t he.

  18. Pale calves make me hurl also.

  19. Insane refinement or refined insanity? Tough call…

  20. Some years ago, a Russian oil baron who had six children, all girls, began to despair as he had no son and heir. Imagine his joy when one of his wives finally presented him with a son and heir.

    Just before his son’s sixth birthday, the baron took him to one side and said, “Son, I am very proud of you. Anything you want, I shall get for you.” His son replied, “Daddy, I would like to have my own airplane.” Not wanting to do anything by halves, his father bought him United Airlines.

    Just before his son’s seventh birthday, the baron took him to one side. “Son, you are my pride and joy. Anything you want, I shall get for you.” His son replied, “Daddy, I would like a boat.” Not wanting to do anything halfway, his father bought him The Princess Cruise Lines.

    Just before his son’s eighth birthday, the baron took him to one side. “Son, you bring so much happiness into my life. Anything you want, I shall get for you.” His son replied, “Daddy, I would like to be able to watch cartoons.” Not wanting to look a cheapskate, his father bought him Disney Studios and their theatres, where he watched all his favourite cartoons.

    Just before his son’s ninth birthday, the baron took him to one side. “Son, you are an inspiration to us all. Anything you want, I shall get for you.” His son, who was by now really into the Disney cartoons, replied, “Daddy, I would like a Mickey Mouse outfit.” Not wanting to appear to be tight, his father bought him Chelsea Football club.

  21. Once I showed up to a party where someone else was wearing the exact same pagoda I was. Humiliating.

    • haha… you’re in fine form today SIG

  22. I’d love to talk shoes with Charlie Watts. Apparently he has an amazing collection of cars, but doesn’t drive. They’re maintained and stored and he visits them every so often just to sit in them (in a suit complimenting the upholstery) and listen to the engines. And he punched out Mick Jagger.

    • I don’t really get why he would collect cars when he doesn’t drive. But each to his own I guess.

  23. Charlie W is a total style icon, love that shoe shop shot xxx

  24. I always adore your people. Especially this “he thought it bad taste to speculate as to who might or might not have good taste.”

  25. My legs are now firmly uncrossed

  26. “One guest came dressed as a pagoda; her costume was so big and rigid that she had to be hauled in on a truck and was unable to sit down.”

    Reminds me of the time Elton John dressed in an enormous Louis XIV costume and had to travel to his 50th birthday party in the back of a van.


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