fame and fortune often breeds some strange creatures who’s influence on fashion remains heightened throughout history. if i look at the phenomena of lady gaga or even madonna in her day, i find the ‘shock-of-the-new’ (as robert hughes would have said) quite self explanatory; there are however some exceptions… where eccentricity meets ability. this has come about through the means of influence: money and social status. there are of course plenty examples of poor eccentrics, but had they not elevated themselves into a realm of visibility, we would have none of their antics. what further interests me about this phenomenon is the transient blasphemy of it… the gossip fever runs high at first, only to subside as society digests and accepts the behavior. it happens time and again, but only with those that are truly sick with strangeness. the baron alexis de redé was such a committed sufferer of aesthetics and famed for his parties as much as his relationship with arturo lopez-willshaw, a married chilean millionaire who supported his fancies financially. i’ve always remembered the poignant words of geneviéve dariaux of nina ricci as saying that there is only one thing you cannot have at a ball…a budget. his balls, once treated with disdain for their ostentation, has now become the aspiration of all. the baron reputedly said of his parties in the lavish surroundings of hôtel lambert in paris: ‘i just want the best of everything, and there is not much of it left’; pictured here with oscar de la renta, richard burton and maria callas, i believe that this infamous and strange behavior of individuals is not a mere shortcut to notoriety, perceived as extravagance or decadence by most, but instead an admirable lust for living large… but of course i would think that.