Switzerland, more than chocolate and skin care

Today (yesterday by the time you read this) was both a great day and a sad day. Any day that involves a luncheon at the Swiss Ambassador’s Residence, hosted by the Ambassador’s fashionista wife Ronit is a delightful day. Today was particularly magical, as she was able not only to bring together the crème de la crème of Washington women, new designs by Isabel Toledo, narrated and explained by the designer (and her number one fan, her husband Ruben) herself, but the sun was sparkling and the sky was turquoise – important when the lunch is taking place on the beautiful terrace of the Residence, and when ether-real cloud-like textile decorations seem to hang from the sky.

But today was also a sad day, as it marks the last such event that Ronit will host. In just a few weeks, her and her husband will be leaving DC (after 4 years, she reminds me, although it seems to me the couple just arrived) for Madrid.

DC will not be the same without her. During these past four years, she has hosted the most fabulous, fashion-forward events at the Residence showcasing Swiss manufacturers and brands. I am Swiss – born and raised in Geneva. And when I think about Switzerland, I think about banking; chocolates; watches; skiing; cheese. I don’t think about fashion or about textiles. Most of Ronit’s fabulous events, however, have served to remind me that there is more to Switzerland…

Creation Baumann: Today I saw various textiles from this manufacturer, textiles that will be released this fall, a collection called “Inspired.” I felt special to preview these text – even though textiles typically don’t excite me. Looking at, and touching these fabrics, I changed my mind. Silks, brocades, in various colors and patterns, called Lily, Rosalie, Amethyst Fleur… I imagined them used for clothing, even though they are meant for interior design.
Forster Rohner: The connection to Isabel Toledo. A family business started in 1904, based in St. Gallen, known for its magnificent embroidery. Today, the great grandson of the founder revealed that for the first time, the company had been interested in thinking about its embroideries for men’s attire. Lace for a man’s jacket, I wonder? The jackets on display were not feminine at all…
And of course Isabel Toledo. She and Ruben, her husband, will make the most cynical individual melt from the romanticism and love they exude. Ruben explains that he can’t imagine living a life that involves leaving his wife at 8 in the morning to go to work, returning in time for dinner. That prospect to him seems worse than physical torture. He and Isabel are sources of inspiration for each other. Couple. Muse. Lovers. Partners. Ronit asks them if it really was love at first sight – they both laugh. “For him it was,” says Isabel. Ruben finishes her sentence: “It took her 10 years to feel the same way, but you know, women take their time with these things…” The topic turns serious, to fashion, and five beautiful models arrive to give us a preview of the new collection. Isabel picks up on the theme of Forster Rohner being interested in men’s fashion – her pieces have stark, strong exteriors (mostly jackets), with extremely feminine layered pieces. Like a woman in an armor. Embracing her feminity, but camouflaging it at the same time.
As the luncheon ends, I say goodbye to Mary Kennedy and Antonia Gore, among other glamorous guests, I win an espresso machine by Nespresso, I kiss Ronit goodbye, and I wonder, with nostalgia, when the Swiss Ambassador’s Residence will once again be the place of such a magical moment.

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