You all remember King Farouk. A lascivious tub of lard, he ruled Egypt for about five minutes until, for numerous reasons including his sins, large and small, he was booted out in 1953. When he was very young, in about 1936, Farouk was almost handsome, but scarcely two years later he was a big fat slob. Even his eyelids were obese.
But in memory of his better days — when Farouk gave riotous parties and passed out the jewels, days when he looked presentable in a fez and was married to his first wife, the beautiful Princess Fawzia — Khalil Rizk, scion of a fine Lebanese family and the owner of Madison Avenue’s Chinese Porcelain Company, gave a party at Mortimer’s. What a blast. Actually, it was in honor of the Brazilian Ambassador to Washington Paulo-Tarso Flecha de Lima and his stunning wife Lucia, Princess Diana’s pals, you’ll recall. Diplomats can look like they’re having fun even when they’re dying inside — it goes with the territory — but in this case it was pretty obvious that the Flecha de Limas weren’t ready to take the first shuttle out.
Glenn Bernbaum, Mortimer’s proprietor, has become the town’s major impresario. After hundreds of parties at the restaurant, many of which he decorates to the nines, no two are ever the same. For Khalil’s dinner, set “somewhere in the Levant, 1930,” Glenn turned the restaurant into a reproduction of the courtyard of the Abdine Palace in Cairo with gilded columns and walls with painted windows framed in blue, beige and gold tiles. Towering from the tabletops were crystal vases bursting with white lilacs. There were fezes for the men — some looked prettier in them than others — and faux silver and faux turquoise trinkets for the ladies and gents, complete with the evil eye to ward off, well, evil.
Glenn took to the books, particularly “Sultans in Splendour: Monarchs of the Middle East 1869-1948,” reproducing sepia photographs from its pages to hang on the walls. There were pictures of Prince Mohammed Ali, staring from a garden of Manyal Palace; of a non-nonsense King Fuad I, mustachioed and fezzed, of Farouk and Fawzia’s wedding banquet, complete with Farouk’s mommy, Queen Farida, imperious in her crown, and, at the other end of the table, the very young Shah of Iran. Very Levantine and then some.
Dinner was an endless array of Middle Eastern dishes, heavy on the parsley, garlic and rosewater. Sen. Abe Ribicoff pronounced it delicious. Banker Dixon Boardman seemed to be looking around for mashed potatoes and gravy.
Most of the men seemed to be looking around for the two belly dancers while the belly dancers looked around for victims to dance with them. One of them pounced on Robert Trump, as in good sport Robert Trump.
The ladies were asked to glitter and so they did. Pat Buckley, in gold lace pants and tunic and gold headband sporting a gold rose and feathers, said, “I look like a Middle Eastern Pocahontas.” Blaine Trump looked like a genie just escaped from a bottle with a khedive’s ransom of jewels in her hair and harem pants. The Countess of Romanones wore her coronet of cabochon emeralds (she’s entitled). Lucia Flecha de Lima wore white embroidered with crystals. Then there were Judy Taubman, Deeda and Bill Blair from Washington, Pauline Boardman, Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Casey Ribicoff, Jerry Zipkin (you ought to see him in a fez), Lee Thaw, Princess Firyal of Jordan, Isabel and Winston Fowlkes, Gaetana and Tom Enders, Patricia Patterson, Carroll Petrie, Chessy Rayner, Joumana Rizk, Mario Buatta, Nicole and Derek Limbocher, Judy and Sam Peabody, Joanne Cummings, Nan and Tommy Kempner, Susan Gutfreund, Sandra de Portanova, Mary McFadden, Kenneth Jay Lane, Joy Henderiks, Kathleen Hearst, Jackie and Nicky Drexel, Aura and Antonio Gebauer, Alex Gregory, Jane (The Bod) Dudley, Jamie Figg, Barbara and Henryk de Kwiatkowski, Elizabeth and Alton Peters and others too Suez Canal to mention.
Speaking of the American-born Spanish Countess of Romanones, you might like to know that we have another Spanish countess in our midst. She is Brazilian beauty Aimee de Heeren, widow of the department store heir Rodman de Heeren. Aimee is now the Countess de Heeren, the King of Spain having just rehabilitated the title, which was Roddy’s, but which he stopped using when he joined the American forces in World War II. It is not known whether Aimee, now recovering in a New York hospital from a broken hip, or her daughter, Christina, whom the king included, will get into the habit of using the title or not, but King Juan Carlos has recently asked those who have titles in Spain to use them at all times. He should not have to twist too many brazos.
My favorite correspondent in the world reports first-hand that life in L.A. these days is not all seismic shocks and bean sprout sandwiches. Hither and yon you can still spot a few stars, probably because the young ones don’t want to be alone ever, on the off chance that with no one else around, they might have to think.
So — the other afternoon, guests at the Chateau Marmont, that venerable hotel of song, story and scandal, got an eyeful of young Keanu Reeves of “Little Buddha” and “Speed” fame having a meaningful dip for himself in the hotel pool. When he finally emerged, like a male Venus on the half-shell, wasn’t that his bathing trunks that fell off? His date, the prettiest young thing this side of Sunset Boulevard, just laughed and laughed. Others at the pool were not amused. I guess it depends on how you look at things.
You will be cheered to hear that the parties are rolling right along in L.A. Everyone swept into the cocktail party and dinner at the Fahey-Klein Gallery where the work of the noted sittings editor, Grace Coddington of British — now American — Vogue fame were on exhibit. Some 400 photographs by everyone from Norman Parkinson and Steven Meisel to Bruce Weber and Helmut Newton are on display until the end of June, pictures that span Coddington’s 25 years of helping make fashion shots worth more than a thousand words.
After the gallery opening, there was a dinner at American Rag, the hip clothing store where young Hollywood shops for its RL and CK gear as well as for those vintage numbers you either love or hate. The shop was transformed for the night into a swinging hotspot, and among those swinging away were Anna Wintour, transplanted from New York for one night only; Sofia Coppola; Steven Meisel; Cari and Matthew Modine, who are decorating a new house in the L.A. hills; Richard Tyler and his wife, Lisa Trafficante; Judd Nelson; novelist Marina Rust; Herb Ritts, just back from some secret shoot abroad; Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ben Stiller, and fab photog Bruce Weber with an entourage of 10. You can travel like that if you say “Look at the birdie” long enough for the right magazines.
Rocker Terrence Trent D’Arby, prowling about, seemed to be besotted when he cast eyes on Iman, the towering model, who, for matrimonial reasons if nothing else, didn’t give Terrence the time of night. “Why are you dis-ing me?” asked the rocker, who hasn’t exactly been brushing up on his Shakespeare. “I’m not,” said Iman — and that was the end of that. No matter what song Terrence Trent sang later into his soup for all to hear.