Queen of the Night: Giovanna Battaglia

A Nocturnal Meander Through New York’s Most Decadent Nightspot with the Italian Fashion Darling

“It’s somewhere between a dream and a nightmare,” explains Giovanna Battaglia of navigating the labyrinth of the Diamond Horseshoe club, the Broadway venue recently resurrected at the Paramount Hotel. The W magazine Contributing Fashion Editor was captured in this voyeuristic short as she played hostess at theatrical ball Queen of the Night during the recent FW14 New York shows. Moonlighting as Creative Director of the immersive event, Battaglia has conjured a world filled with wildly exaggerated Thom Browne-designed costumes and lobster-stuffed steel birdcages by Jennifer Rubell, where unsuspecting spectators are plucked into secret chambers for a solo encounter. “The place smells like cigarettes, sex, perfume, whiskey and church rolled into one,” says Set Designer Douglas Little of the sensory overload. “It’s kind of sinful, classic, decadent and slightly salacious, but it’s there to shake up New York nightlife.” The basement club was first opened in 1938 by Manhattan impresario Billy Rose, and Battaglia is nostalgic for the wayward decadence of the swing-era: “Baz Luhrmann told me the scene in The Great Gatsby when Leonardo Dicaprio is in an underground speakeasy was inspired by the original Diamond Horseshoe,” she says. Here the front row regular gives NOWNESS a quick-fire guide to her quintessential night out.

What's the best party you've ever been to?
Giovanna Batagglia:
Dolce & Gabbana’s Venice Alta Moda masked ball. Arriving at the Palazzo with the gondola at night was like something from another era: everybody wearing amazing costumes and masks. The decor was like a 1700 dream.

Cocktail of choice?
GB:
Vodka on the rocks. 


Party trick?
GB:
No trick, just make sure you have dinner before.

Sprit animal?
GB:
A bat and leopard hybrid. 


Four people—dead or alive—you’d like to have at your next dinner?
GB:
Cleopatra, Dalí, Baz Luhrmann and Beyoncé.

Best hangover cure?
GB:
A steam sauna and a Bloody Mary.
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Conversations (2)

  • mikeswitz
    Beyond boring, amateurish, and pointless.
  • merlanderiz
    This is boring........

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  • ON REPLAY
    ON REPLAY

    Cecilia Bengolea: Airtight

    Dancers Transform Paris into a Science-Fiction Dreamscape In a New Short by Clara Cullen

    Argentinian choreographer Cecilia Bengolea achieves physical feats in ballet-style stilettos, crab-walking through Paris’ backstreets in today’s abstract dance homage. Directed by filmmaker Clara Cullen, the short sees Bengolea joined by dancers François Chaignaud, Ana Pi and Alex Mugler, and was shot in and around La Ménagerie studio where the artists have a residency. It was based on four pieces from the Bengolea and Chaignaud Choregraphique Repertory—“Sylphides” (2009), “Danses Libres” (2010), “Mimosa” (2011) and “Altered Natives’ Say Yes to Another Excess-Twerk” (2012). “She’s a great inspiration for me,” says Cullen of her muse, confidante and compatriot. “I met her in a squat in Paris five years ago and we instantly became friends—I understand her world, and that’s why I can do this kind of work with her.” Cullen studied Film at the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires and later trained under Spike Lee in New York and Werner Herzog in Los Angeles. Her more recent work includes fashion films for such brands as Max Mara and Nike. “It’s a mix of things we just created in the moment,” says Cullen of today’s short, which was partly shot with a VHS camera that Cullen obtained from eBay and splices grainy sci-fi architectural landscapes with scenes of dancers vacuum-packed in rubber fetish wear. “They stayed in that bag for an hour,” she explains, “which is physically and mentally very hard. The film has a lot of moments of hope and desperation—I just wanted to have that feeling throughout.”

    Bengolea and Chaignaud appear with Charles Atlas at London’s Tate Modern Tanks space from Tuesday March 19 through Thursday March 21.

    (Read More)
  • MOST LOVED IN FASHION
    MOST LOVED IN FASHION

    The Fight

    New York Bon Vivant Glenn O’Brien Turns Boxing Commentator for a Battle of the Sexes

    The athletic Belgian model Hannelore Knuts challenges Ghana-born American boxer-turned-trainer Kwame Davis in the surreal Douglas Keeve-directed short that casts art writer, style guru and Warhol acolyte Glenn O’Brien as an excitable pundit. Creatively directed by Victoria Bartlett and written by O’Brien, the film celebrates the opening up of a sport that has long been considered a men-only concern. “Boxing was the last holdout, the sole all-male fixture in the Olympics until London 2012, when women's boxing was first allowed,” says Keeve, whose previous work includes Unzipped, a 1994 documentary that spotlit designer Isaac Mizrahi and included cameos from Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Kate Moss. “This fantastical and comedic bout between Hannelore and Kwame gives a nod to women who continue to break boundaries,” says the filmmaker. NOWNESS asked O’Brien to muse on his long-held fascination with the pugilistic practice. 

    I grew up with boxing. It was on TV all the time. The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports sponsored Monday Night Fight and the Friday Night Fight—the latter running 14 years straight. Men and women crowded around their TVs to watch athletes pound each other in the ring, trying to knock the other unconscious, sometimes as us kids looked on. Huge cuts emerging around their eyes. Punches shot blood and sweat into the third-row spectators. Knocked-out men hitting the canvas or slumping onto the ropes where, if the refs didn’t stop it, their opponent might kill them. I saw Emile Griffith kill Benny “The Kid” Paret on live TV in 1962.  He didn’t actually die until ten days later. Griffith was enraged since Paret called him a maricón [derogatory Spanish slang for a gay person] at the weigh in. There were no ‘out’ athletes then and Griffith has since owned up to swinging both ways outside the ring too. He felt very bad about Benny Paret. Those were very macho days and boxing was even more savage than today's ultimate fighting.

    I could still sing you the Gillette “Look Sharp March,” which every marching band in the country played. “Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp.” I also happened to be watching when Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, a colorful lightweight champ killed South Korean fighter Duk Koo Kim in the ring in 1982. We were and are a nation of brutes. I can’t imagine that the Roman arenas were more brutal, and nobody smoked cigars there. But I appreciated many fighters like Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, I liked their personalities and their footwork. My performance here is based loosely on Howard Cosell, the great cliché sportscaster of my youth. 

    (Read More)

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