1.20.2010

The Italians Do It Better

This makes the Titanic look like a toy. I LOATHE cruise liners, but I would travel on this with glee.

In reference to the Salone Colonna of the '30s Italian luxury liner the Conte Di Savoia:
The grand lounge was an explosion of Italian baroque, a floating Villa Borghese.  There was marble everywhere, on the walls, columns and underfoot, save for a heraldic carpet. The ceiling was an enormous vault painted with all the verve of the Sistine Chapel.  Around the room lay bloated fauteils covered in zebra stripes and hideously out of period.
                                                                             John Maxtone Graham, The Only Way To Cross 

Hm, hideously out of period? Those bloated fauteils are actually what made me love this image, as opposed to just liking it.  Of course, I'm as enthusiastic about glorious baroque "explosions" as the next steadfast believer in excess, but it's the juxtaposition with those giant zebra sofas that won me over.

Image of the grand lounge, or Salone Colonna, from The Only Way To Cross, by John Maxtone-Graham. 

Launched on October 28, 1931 for the anniversary of Mussolini's 9th year in power, the Conte di Savoia was only kept in regular service until Italy entered the war in 1940.  During the war, the liner was possibly used to ferry troops to Africa and then disguised as an island (?!!) in a marsh off of Venice, where it was bombed by America and ransacked by Germany.

Below, a photograph of the once cutting-edge 900 ft long enclosed promenade.  This was a giant leap for fashionable women who didn't care for wind-whipped, soot-laden hair. I can empathize.

Image of promenade deck, from Classic Ocean Liners II: Rex And Conte Di Savoia by Frank O. Braynard.  

The Conte Di Savoia was also the first liner to have gyrostabilizers, in front of which this dinner crowd poses.  Incidentally, the gyrostabilizer looks a little like an alien spacecraft.  And what is that mass of glossy black plumage that the lady on the right is holding? I would like one, whatever it is...

Above, passengers posing in front of the ship's stabilizers. Image via New York Social Diary.

Above, the liner takes on passengers. Image via New York Social Diary

Above left, a folder issued to first class passengers, and right, a pre-launch brochure for the Conte di Savoia. Images from Classic Ocean Liners II: Rex And Conte Di Savoia by Frank O. Braynard.

7 comments:

{Tara} said...

I would love to do a bit of lounging in THAT Grand Lounge! I have never been on a sea-bound cruise ship, but I did stay aboard the out-of-commision Queen Mary, and it was gorgeous -- art deco fabulousness!

little augury said...

Get out the Vuitton trunk, the mirrored pumps and bias cut satin. See you on board.

Style Redux 2 said...

Count me in.

Couture Cookie said...

I love these photos! Can you imagine hanging out in that lounge with a cocktail?! Awesome.

home before dark said...

I miss Poirot just for the sets, the clothes, the cars! I, too, wondered about the plumage (more feather than fur I think). You would look marvelous, darling with ruffed heels and ruffled plumes.

Errant Aesthete said...

Graham's review was as enticing as the ship. Full out gush with just the right note of sneer. Perfect!

Simply captivating.

(IN)DECOROUS TASTE said...

Tara- I'm jealous, that sounds fabulous.

Couture cookie- YES, as a matter of fact, I'll take a martini, in one of those bloated zebra fauteils, please!

Home- You've just reminded me how much I love Poirot. Now I know why.

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