The Princess Diaries

Melusine Ruspoli is having the time of her life. She’s young. She’s beautiful. She’s privileged. And at just 20-years old, she has the social world at her fingertips. In November 2013 she made her debut at the Crillion Ball in Paris with other notable girls like John F. Kennedy’s great-niece and Lady Amelia Windsor. She wore a big, lilac, floral Chanel Haute Couture gown and raised more than a few eyebrows. That’s when the ball started rolling. Earlier this year, she got accepted for an internship at Ferragamo and moved to New York fora  few months, where she was introduced to Instagram – “People in New York are crazy about Instagram!”. She appeared with her mom, Patricia Theresa Genest (a former French model and widow of the late Alessandro “Dado” Principe Ruspoli, the 9th Prince of Cerveteri) in the Fiamma ad campaign, alongside other famous mother/daughter pairings. She partied with Poppy Delevingne and Peter Dundas in Milan, “until we ended up at someone’s house and it got weird”. During Paris Fashion Week the frantic PR people at Chanel and Valentino were fighting over who would have her exclusively in their front row. And she darted around Carine Roitfeld’s party in a dangerously sexy Gabriela Cadena gown. That’s a lot of fun for one girl…!

So much fun in fact, that she hasn’t had time to answer the questions I sent her for this profile. Her last message to me was: “I have no more credit on my phone!” That sounds awfully inconvenient for a teenager who’s just relocated to Milan to study, but every bit like the dreamy, distracted girl I met in Lago di Bolsena this summer. She was unassuming, a little shy even, with demonstrative eyebrows and sleek chestnut hair that framed her flushed cheeks like a hula skirt. She spoke slowly, in a deep voice, and a soft Italian accent. Her eyes were always smiling, as if she was waiting to share a sweet story, but afraid to interrupt. Nothing about Melusine screamed nobility or diva. She certainly didn’t dress like a Princess. Skinny jeans, worn, black ballerinas, light cashmere sweater… She even looked a little out of place at her aunt Claudia’s castle in Vignanello. Who’d have thought that underneath that dear, mousy facade was a self-confident, outspoken, vintage-loving, would-be model? She most definitely had me fooled…

But today we have a shopping date in Milan and I get a sense of Melusine, the fashionista. “Do you mind if we reschedule for a few hours?” she begged me on the phone earlier. “I went out really late last night and this morning I had the Ferragamo show, so I think I need to sleep a little bit more.” Not a problem. Been there, done that. When she walks in the door of Wait and See around 3 PM, she looks rested, radiant and ready for action. She even put on red lipstick, which, set against her pale skin, makes her look like a modern-day Snow White, albeit slightly hungover. She picks her outfits with deliberate motivation. She loves oversized boyfriend blazers and elegant pant suits, nothing too flashy or overtly retro. She’s in her element, repeatedly asking to see “the effect” of each shot on my camera screen and trying new poses. “I love making pictures,” she smiles.

After a few changes and about five strong coffees, we dash off to Franco Jacassi, Milan’s master of vintage. His Vintage Delirium is not a store front – it’s by appointment-only – so I called in advance. Like every Italian, Franco is well aware of the Ruspoli dynasty and is pleased to have a special guest in his store. He hangs around while we dress up, giving us an elaborate back story for every piece we touch. He also tells us he has plans to open a store in New York! “Please let me know if you’re getting bored with me,” he apologizes after a while. It’s hard to stay focused in this place. Not just because we hang on his every word, but mostly because the sheer quality of his collection is overwhelming: old Gianni Versace, classic Pucci, and all things beaded, feathered and embroidered. Melusine has her eye on a black tuxedo jacket. But she finally decides is too big and leaves empty-handed.

As soon as we get in the taxi, she grabs her phone to make a phone call. She seems excited. Probably another fashion party she’s headed out to, or a big dinner with friends? But then I hear a few unexpected words: “Oui maman, j’arrive.” I guess the fun can wait.


November 7, 2014

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