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February 2017 - Houston

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29 opened in more than 100 years. Enter Thrash, ever the diplomat: "In France," she says, "Every single negotiation begins with 'Oh-la-la-la-la! Ce n'est pas possible!' And I told them, 'In my country everything is possible. You must fi nd a way to open those doors!'" So she made them an offer that made a deep impression. The doors were unsealed. "It was a pinch-me moment," she recalls. "That Napoleon may have been short — but he lived large!" Adding Venice to the mix creates another layer of cultural adaptation. "The French are more serious," says Thrash, "but the Italians are more dramatic." And for good reason, at least in Venice. The city is sinking; its most historic sites are in desperate need of restoration. In planning the itinerary for the premier La Dolce Vita, which benefi ts the renovation of the second wing of the Gallerie dell'Accademia and 66 works by old-master painters, Thrash toured the city by foot this summer. With the director of Venetian Heritage Toto Bergamo-Rossi, they met with museum directors, the mayor, and the owners of some of the city's most spectacular palazzos. Her site for La Dolce Vita is the Scuola Grande Della Misericordia, which has just been reopened after nearly 100 years. "I want to give people the wow factor," she says of outfi tting the palazzo in glorious gala fashion. "But the truth is, one chair and one painting in any of these historic rooms is enough." LIAISONS AU LOUVRE IV What will transpire during the week of the summer solstice is the stuff of jet-set dreams: It begins Sunday, June 18, in Paris at the Hotel Ritz — Liaisons au Louvre IV headquarters, if you will. An itinerary of private museum tours and dinner at the Petit Palais ensue Monday, before Tuesday's La Grand Nuit at the Musée du Louvre. A most intriguing opportunity comes during the day of the big event, when guests will be able to view the glorious 18th- century decorative arts galleries that were closed for a nine-year restoration, and reopened two years ago. The private viewing is rare, indeed — a chance to quietly see where the money raised during past Liaisons au Louvre has gone. "Now, the challenge at the Louvre," says Thrash, "is to do something different every time." This year, that entails inverting the notion of a grand entrée, with guests cocktailing in the 16th-century castle ruins beneath the Louvre's Borghese Galleries. Dinner and a brief auction of eight or nine blue-chip pieces of art, from artists such as Anish Kapoor, Francesco Clemente, and the Haas Brothers, will be held beneath the Pyramid. A top-secret, megawatt performer will take the stage before a red carpet leads guests to Café Marley for an after-party with DJ, dancing, beaucoup croque monsieurs, more cocktails, and a smoking pavilion … because this is Paris. LA DOLCE VITA VENEZIA Champagne headaches be damned! Wednesday morning, travelers pack their Vuitton and jet to Venice for round two. First, a day of rest before two days of tours — from Palazzetto Alvisis Gaggia and Palazzo Gradenigo to Palazzo Giustinian Recanati and Scuola Dalmata, even a chance to roam the 57th Venice Biennale. Thursday evening, it will be white dinner jackets at Palazzo Rezzonico, a site which rarely opens for dinner events. Finally, Friday brings La Dolce Vita, a grand masked ball at the centuries-old Scuola Grade Della Misericordia. "I do not want it to be costumed," says Thrash of the attire requirements. "I want it to be dramatic: capes, masks and headpieces — really going for it! Medieval, iconoclastic, old- world, turn-of-the-century!" This is a Venetian masked ball, after all, so one should consider reviewing the attire worn at masquerades by Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. Becca Cason Thrash, Liaisons au Louvre, 2008, in Galerie Daru at the Louvre Napoleon's apartments had not been opened for 100 years, until the 2011 Liaisons au Louvre Van Cleef & Arpels will host cocktails and dinner at the Petit Palais for this year's Liaisons. The I.M.-Pei designed Pyramid at the Louvre, site of the Liaisons entertainment. Liaisons au Louvre IV in Paris, June 18, 19, 20; La Dolce Vita Venezia, June 22, 23, both benefi tting American and International Friends of the Louvre and Venetian Heritage. Information bctfete@ For more photographs of the upcoming Liaisons au Louvre IV and La Dolce Vita Venezia, go to

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