Trattoria Dell’Arte fed some of the most prominent fashion models in the industry, including Iman, Elle Macpherson, Carol Alt, Jerry Hall, and Christie Brinkley among sundry others. One in particular who I enjoyed meeting and who remains to this day a dear friend, was Christine Royer.
Chris was a very attractive blond with shoulder-length hair and a smile that could light up a Christmas tree. She had this endearing habit of shaking her head at times and letting her bangs fall wherever they landed, which I thought was cute.
Chris had gotten her start in the early 70s as an in-house model for fashion designer Halston. At the time, Halston was one of his industry’s biggest names with an enviable roster of celebrity clients that included Greta Garbo, Lauren Bacall, Margaux Hemingway, Elizabeth Taylor, Martha Graham, and Liza Minnelli. Halston was everywhere, and fashion’s new “it boy!”
He first rose to prominence when he designed the pillbox hat that Jackie Kennedy wore for the inauguration of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in 1961. That initial spark—along with his extensive network of rich and famous clientele that he had acquired while working as a milliner for Bergdorf Goodman—helped boost Halston’s career prospects, which led him eventually to open his boutique on Madison Avenue in the late 60s. In 1973, Halston sold his company to the conglomerate Norton Simon but remained as its principal designer and titular head. The deal allowed Halston to branch out and expand his line. From then on, he had a successful decade-long run that culminated in a billion-dollar partnership with JC Penney in the early 80s. But after several poor business decisions and a lifestyle of excess, Halston lost control of his company. Crestfallen and disillusioned, Halston meandered for several years until falling victim to AIDS in 1990 at 57.
Chris eventually went on to work as a VP for Revlon when they acquired the Halston brand and has remained—like her sister Halsonettes—a vigorous champion of the late designer’s legacy.
On one occasion, around 1994, Chris came to Dell’Arte with fellow model Janice Dickinson, who was as fabulous as she was brash. We ushered them into one of the cozy banquets next to the maitre d’ stand. Over the next couple of hours, these two gorgeous women started catching up—like old college sorority sisters—on old times and sharing gossip updates about their often controversial industry.
At one point, as I was making my rounds and checking on our diners, I stopped at their table to check on them, and I overheard Janice saying she was pregnant. I interrupted and said something to the effect, “Congratulations, Janice. Who’s the lucky guy?” And Janice looked up at me and just smiled, and then looked at Royer with the same cryptic grin. Janice wasn’t telling, and I said, “What’s the big secret?” and Janice replied, “Well, it’s because the father is a very important person, and I don’t want it getting out yet.” And I said, “Does he know?“ “Of course he does!“ she retorted. “So what’s the problem?” I asked.“ “There’s no problem,” she returned. And with that, Janice was summoned to the host stand, where she was expecting a call.
“Hey, babe, how are you?” She said to a mystery person on the other end of the phone. “I’m here having dinner with my friend Chris Royer, and the manager wants to know who the father of our child is.” After a minute of back-and-forth banter, she surprised me by handing me the phone. Startled as I was, I spoke into the phone’s receiver and timidly said, “Hello?“ Then I waited a couple of seconds and heard, “Hiya doin’?” from the other end. At that point, my eyes widened, and I looked at Janice while cupping the receiver of the phone and asked her, “Is this Sly?“ She nodded affirmatively and then grabbed the phone from my hand. She spoke a little more to him, then disconnected.
I asked Janice if she was playing a joke on me by having someone impersonate Sylvester Stallone, and she said, “Now, why would I do that?” Seven torturous years later, a DNA test revealed Stallone wasn’t the father of her daughter, Savannah, but film producer Michael Birnbaum.
Former restauranteur, musician, concert promoter, producer, publisher, manager, and impresario, Charles Carlini has synthesized these roles to become a dynamic force in the music industry–noted for his ability to bring diverse talent together to create innovative concerts and recordings that reach and move music-lovers everywhere.