Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oscar Wilde and his paramour Lillie Langtry have made their New York debut. Lillie sashayed in first making an appearance in her Chelsea salon, a grand Victorian "gin palace" transported from Northern Ireland.
Marble columns, a back bar rising higher than Langtry's fame and gorgeous stained glass adorn Lillie's Seventeenth Street locale.
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." Oscar Wilde's comment could as easily be applied to restaurants as well and Lillie's would certainly not have acquired the sobriquet of tedious.
Oscar having been a paramour of Lillie's was therefore not going to be far behind in joining her in America. Newly opened ten blocks north of Lillie's the new Oscar Wilde is as peacock perfect as its namesake.
Once inside the size of the space is in complete synchronicity with Oscar's reputation. It's huge. It stretches out before you and above you with vistas so numerous it's hard to take it all in.
"You can never be too overdressed or overeducated", another of Oscar's witticisms fits like a glove over one's impression of the interior of the bar that bares his name
And there to greet you as you walk in is Oscar himself cast in bronze and looking a bit more like a young Richard Gere,
a little more handsome, a lot less nose than what I've seen in actual photos. Like most things in our world he's been a bit Hollywoodized in his three-dimensional statuary leaning on the bar in a way to make both men and women swoon.
If seeing him isn't enough his presence will penetrate your mind and provide every one of us weak witted with plenty of pithy lines to cast about in conversation as we (well you more likely) try to become conversation heroes and the party's center of attention.
Marble plinths with quotes from the bar's namesake are scattered throughout the hall meaning any of us can appear as ascorbic as Wilde by glancing down at thigh high level and plagiarizing one of his quotes.
If the cats still got your tongue you cast an eye around the room at the little vignettes
and mansion sized tableaux that put you right in the heart of Edwardian London.
There's quite a bit to take in in a bar so stuffed with ornament it's hard to wrap your eyes around. Bars supported by sets of smiling lions.
Gentlemen jockeys supporting curbside lighting at the edges of massive back bars
Bar so ornate with every form of ethnic design prevalent at the later 1800's. From the English to the Moroccans to the Egyptians the feel is totally exotic.
Even if you're fall-down drunk and looking at the ceiling from the floor you're still afforded a glimpse of the Oscar Wilde's fantasy and artistry.
I had to think about how many antiquities had been pillaged to furnish and adorn this palace for the decadent and inebriated. Before I left I had to know. The hostess at the front of the room put her finger up to her chin and said, "France? But let me check." A few minutes later after having consulted with someone a little higher up she came back. "Oh no, it was all carved and carted over from Viet Nam."
As Oscar might have said, "Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination". The Oscar Wilde bar certainly does not suffer from a lack of imagination.

Photographer unknown
Found hanging on a column at the Oscar Wilde

1 comment:

  1. Overwhelming. I bet it's going to be noisy with all those hard surfaces. Question is, will the bright young things even know Wilde?