Milanese aristocratic families are notoriously averse to showing off their possessions, privacy being of utmost importance here, ingrained in a culture of elegant discretion. Yet behind the closed doors of imposing palazzos, one can often find rarefied magnificence and exquisite artistic treasures worthy of the most cultivated, fastidious connoisseur. Case in point was Palazzo Orsi Mangelli, a private residence whose opulent interiors were designed by the inimitable Renzo Mongiardino. The property is rarely open, but last night it welcomed guests for Swarovski’s launch of the Book of Dreams, a publication that reads as a sort of beautifully edited inspirational mood board. It was envisioned by fabulous globetrotter-turned-creative-director Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, who entrusted Martina Mondadori Sartogo, the brainy beauty behind Cabana magazine, with the book’s art direction.
“Giovanna wanted to give the Swarovski’s famous crystals a sort of ‘obsessive narrative,’ ” mused Sartogo while mingling with the elegant crowd in the residence’s candlelit private garden. “And who better than Cabana to give the Swarovski crystals an interesting, unconventional interpretation? Cabana’s eye is all about obsession; obsession of collecting, of putting together eccentric patchworks of artistic, rare things of different provenance.”
Looking fabulous ensconced in the equally impressive kitchen, glowing like a Swarovski crystal herself, was an expecting Battaglia Engelbert (she’s expecting her first child, a girl). She showed guests a series of inventive table settings, beautifully laid out with Cabana’s tableware collections and generously dusted with sparkling colored crystals. “I wanted something opulent, artistic, and flamboyant!” she quipped. “The book is a visual feast, every page a different dream; we appointed a crew of young creatives to re-create Old Masters paintings with a contemporary spin, blending the crystals into their surreal images.”
Swarovski’s CEO Markus Langes-Swarovski, who masterminded the whole editorial project, took in the setting as he greeted the glamorous guests, which included Anna Dello Russo, Coco Brandolini d’Adda, Roberto Peregalli and Laura Rimini, Luisa Beccaria with daughter Lucilla Bonaccorsi, Linda Fargo, and Laudomia Pucci.