In a time when good manners seem to have been thrown out the window — we are looking at you President Trump — it’s nice to see someone eager to learn proper etiquette. On a recent episode of “Chelsea” on Netflix, the comedienne was instructed by an etiquette expert how to curtsy and hold a Champagne flute. As expected, hilarity ensued.
However, to some, proper etiquette is no laughing matter, and they are taking their desire to learn good manners a pricey step further. At Institut Villa, the last finishing school residing in Switzerland, women from all over the world congregate for a three to six weeks course on how to be a proper lady.
“Obviously we have daughters of presidents and princesses, but those are definitely not the majority,” explained Viviane Neri, who took the reins of the school in 1972 — nearly 20 years after her mother founded it. “We also have people who save money to finance their stay because… they realize that this will give them extra knowledge that very few people have,” she said.
For up to $31,000, they attend classes such as international business etiquette, floral art and staff management. Attendees are also taught the proper etiquette and protocol of 20 different countries, along with how to avoid cultural taboos.
“Cultural differences you are not aware of can create conflicts for very silly reasons,” Neri said, pointing a finger at journalists, suggesting many could benefit from a course to avoid “embarrassing” articles like those criticizing US First Lady Melania Trump for not covering her head during a recent trip to Saudi Arabia.
While such finishing schools fell out of favor after the student revolutions in the last 1960s, Neri notices a shift lately.
“I think people, after two generations of no etiquette, realize that it is so much easier when people share the same codes,” she said.
So much so, in fact, her son and would-be successor is considering expanding as well as offering online courses. They have also opened up some seminars to men. We sure hope they address modern complaints such as mansplaining and manspreading. [DM]