There was the King of Sweden, and then there was Madison Cox.
Both men had the same great idea, some years apart, of hosting a private event at the Legation. We weren't there but we're certain the Swedish dinner party was a royal affair, but we can assure you that Madison Cox, American landscape architect and designer of exquisite gardens around the world, transformed the Legation with a few elegant touches. Madison Cox was recently profiled by his longtime friend and fellow designer Marian McEvoy in the Wall Street Journal. McEvoy had earlier written about his Tangier home in the New York Times.
The Legation's many cracks are all still there, and the moldy walls haven't disappeared. But for a few hours on Friday night, all that mattered was that guests from the world over were enchanted by this venerable building, one that most of them never knew existed.
A few well-placed lanterns, flowers by Isabelle Bosquet-Morra of "Fleurisa" in New York, and of course Madison Cox's understated but elegant touch in everything from table coverings to lighting were enough to transform our sometimes dowdy US-Government-surplus-look historic building.
Perhaps I'm too harsh on our look, which – as the photos in this post show – can indeed be magical. One guest, taking in the eclectic mix of medina-Moroccan walls, 19th century Spanish architectural touches, and Federal period interior volumes, said that he was reminded somehow of the White House.
Now, we have in common two things with the White House: ownership by the USG, and designation as National Historic Landmarks.
Very flattering, though we'd like to have a 100th of the White House budget for furnishings and maintenance.