Before The Beatles turned teenaged girls into a screaming, weeping throng and George Clooney made even the most reserved woman a bit toasty under the proverbial collar, there was an inimitable heartthrob working his magic on the female gender during the roaring 20s.
His name? Rudolph Valentino, an actor notorious for his tango kisses and his sultry stare emanating from almond-shaped eyes.
Two weeks ago today, I happened upon what I believe would be the quintessential Valentino lair. Though the silent film star has been dead for over 88 years, were he still causing women to swoon today I know the furnishings he’d tap to create a modern-day interpretation of his home in the Beverly Hills, which he had dubbed “Falcon Lair.”
Bernhardt Creates a Valentino Lair
I am convinced the sumptuous setting created by the Bernhardt Interiors Collection nestled into a corner of the showroom in High Point would have fit him to a tee. One look at this bedroom angle of the vignette, its centerpiece the Kensington brass bed, and I think you’ll agree:
I look at this image and see him nestled into the ruby red Nadine Chaise, lounging on the chic Monaco sofa or propped up on the pillows in the center of the Kensington brass bed, his Macbook Air balanced on his lap as he taps away at its keyboard writing romantic poetry. The hint of a smile on his quivering lips proof he is imagining his latest conquest in his arms.
Rudolph Valentino’s Only Book of Poetry
Valentino? Poetry? You are likely wondering. Yes, dear readers, he was a scribe—admittedly, not a very seasoned one but his love poems outlive him. This literary legacy is tucked between the covers of a book titled Day Dreams, which he penned when boredom during an actor’s strike got the best of him.
“Happy indeed I shall be if my Day Dreams will bring you as much enjoyment in the reading as they brought to me in the writing,” he wrote in the introduction of the book, setting the locale and date of the finalization of his rhymes in New York City on May 29, 1923.
I believe hints as to the actor’s tastes in décor are sprinkled throughout his poems, confirming my hunch that he would be quite at home ensconced in a refuge furnished with these sumptuous pieces. From the verses below, I think you’ll see it is impossible not to feel bathed in rose and ruby hues when you read them:
In an untitled poem, he waxed poetic:
Dawn runs in a crimson streak
Across a leaden sky—
Just like a pulsing vein of life…
In “Heart Flower,” he gushed:
O lovely rose
Within whose chalice lies
The heart of my true love…
In “You,” he proclaimed:
Twin silken petals
Of a dewy rose…
Even the cover design of the book (above) calls to mind the sensual masculinity the Bernhardt space exuded, don’t you think? Further proof this dapper refuge would be the perfect backdrop is the collage of snapshots of him below.
Rudolph Valentino Dapper Dresser
He would be practically indistinguishable from the sultry room in his double-breasted suits, wool overcoat, furs and dashing fedoras, the fashion statements he chose to make brilliantly mimicked by the beautiful upholstery fabrics chosen for this collection. I think matching textiles to styles is a particular talent of the Bernhard design team, don’t you?
For my pièce de résistance, I offer the film star doing what he did best—looking elegant in tails and making eyes with the camera in the video below. It’s no wonder Heather and Stephanie, who took me and Carmen Natschke on a tour of their new Fall 2014 releases, had already witnessed a number of women succumbing to the sensuality of the space as they walked through it. I certainly felt the seductive pull!
I’d like to thank Bernhardt for being one of my sponsors for the Fall High Point Market. They take such care with their presentations, their vignettes are on par with set decoration for films and they inspire me to such delicious heights of imagination. In fact, it is a thrill to be in the midst of the action of #HPMkt as American and a growing number of forward-thinking companies in the European markets introduce new products twice each year (as an example of the latter, visit 220 Elm if you make it to market next spring).
To have advance access to releases is an exciting prospect for anyone writing about exemplary design and I value being a part of the conversation.
Signature pieces included in the Valentino Lair, à la Bernhardt:
Kensington Brass Bed, Kent Chests, Haley Chairs, Monaco Sofa, Geneva Side Table, Pascal Chair, Nadine Chaise, Townhouse Sofa, Lance Chair, Bijan Cocktail Table, Chiltern Buffet, Benton Etagere and Argos Side Table.
The Modern Salonnière and this entry, The Valentino Lair, © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon is an author, poet and strategist. Her books include Anywhere But Here, Stranded on the Road to Promise and Four Florida Moderns.