With the airs of a state dinner, French First Lady Bernadette Chirac and arts patron Hélène David-Weill welcomed Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Lee Radziwill and Sen. Ted Kennedy to the black-tie opening of “Jacqueline Kennedy, The White House Years” at Paris’ Musée des Arts Decoratifs on Monday night.
The social ladies pulled out all the stops, with Liliane Betancourt, Philippine de Rothschild, Jacqueline de Ribes (recovered, after nine months’ treatment in the States, from her mystery illness), Betty Lagardère, Catherine Deneuve, Dodie Rosekrans and Irene Amic in couture. But, fittingly, it was Schlossberg in Chanel and Radziwill in a shimmering gold Balmain sheath who best revived the spirit of Jackie’s own elegant simplicity.
Designers, many affiliated with L’Oréal, the evening’s sponsor, also showed up in force, including Giorgio Armani (with Kristin Scott Thomas), Miuccia Prada, Azzedine Alaïa, Karl Lagerfeld, Hedi Slimane, Pierre Cardin and Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, better known as the design duo Viktor & Rolf.
A brisk affair, the party had dozens of bodyguards minding the VIPs. How many bodyguards does Horsting have?
“One,” he said, motioning toward Snoeren, who held his arms to shelter his design partner. The duo are set to have their own exhibition at the same museum next October.
In keeping with the high tone of the Kennedy White House, there were also a few artists and intellectuals among the beau monde, including novelist Barbara Chase-Riboud. Chase-Riboud met Jackie O on Skorpios in the Seventies, and, with her encouragement, wrote her first novel, “Sally Hemmings.” The 1979 historical novel delved at length into the affair between Thomas Jefferson and Hemmings, his slave mistress. “Sally Hemmings” was also Jackie’s first effort as a book editor and the basis of a lasting friendship.
“But I could never get my mouth around the word Jackie,” confided Chase-Riboud. “She would say, ‘You and my mother are the only ones who call me Jacqueline.’”