21 JANUARY 1995, Page 46

High life

A tacky house


Gstaad The last time Gstaad had so much snow and wonderful weather was 19 years ago, a winter I also remember because my baby daughter took her first hesitant steps. That was also the time when Valentino, the dress designer, arrived in Gstaad, bought a fantastic chalet, filled it up with young Brazilians with names like Kada and KoKo, and was promptly blackballed at the Eagle Club. The reason for his rejection had nothing to do with his sexuality or lifestyle. It was simply because when filling out a form, he had listed Regine's, the Parisian bate de nuit, as his only other club. Now I'm not a great fan of seamstresses — with the exception of a few, Bill Blass, Carolina Herrera and a couple of others — because they're vastly overpaid and have titanic egos, but Valentino deserved better. In fact, as I wrote to the committee at the time, Regine should have taken umbrage, not the Eagle. After all, she let in a better type of rich than we did.

Needless to say, my letter did not endear me to the committee, most of whom were great friends of mine. It was just about that time when some wise guy spray-painted Viva la Ficca on the side of the mountain facing the club. Of course, I was immedi- ately accused of it, despite the fact that had I done it, I would have written Zito to Muni which is ancient Greek and roughly trans- lates as 'Hooray for pussy.'

After a while Valentino was invited to join and everything has been hunky-dory ever since. He even designed the Eagle Club's logo, which adorns the sweaters that sell like hot cakes to those among the members not embarrassed to admit they belong to it.

Which reminds me. This Lord Lester fel- low who just quit the Garrick club over the women for members issue, should come over and join the Eagle. One of the reasons the Eagle doesn't work is because it's full of old women who don't ski but take up all the good tables. Although I wouldn't join the Garrick if they paid me one million net — it's full of lawyers, bewigged buffoons and jumped-up hacks — the members are right to keep out women. In fact, it is Lester who is absurd and pussy-whipped, not the Garrick. The newspapers described Lester as 'one of the most eminent mem- bers of the legal profession,' which is a bit like singling out the most honest Greek socialist politician.

Women had no place in the Athenian `agora', and should have no place in gentle- men's clubs. If they're allowed in, the next thing we'll have is sensitivity training, as they do in America, which will mean I for one will be moving to Grozny.

But back to Gstaad and Valentino. A couple of weeks ago, while entering the Palace, I saw the dowager Empress of Japan, Horohito's widow, went up to her and bowed deeply, a-la-Japonaise, from the waist down. But upon closer inspection, it turned out to be Valentino, whose jet-black hair and stretched skin makes him a twin of the Empress. We chatted amiably and he never once asked me what I was doing bowing to him. I guess all those old bags who buy his clothes do it, or perhaps he mistook me for a Brazilian.

This is the bad news. The worse news is that after nearly 40 years I've decided to buy a chalet. As in everything I do, I've missed the boat — pun intended — but what the hell. I've given more money to the Palace than Mohammed Fayed pretended to have been born with, so I guess you could call this an investment. One thing is certain. All my childhood friends live here part time, the tennis is great all year round, so is cross-country skiing, and in the odd year even the skiing is good. I suddenly made up my mind because once the glitzy types left after the holidays, the place resembled the Gstaad I knew before the towelheads and greaseballs had discovered it. By the time they return in February I shall be far away, in Egypt, heading an expedition to discover whether Mohammed Fayed belonged to a gentleman's club.