The private quarters of the White House are reverberating with the gladsome tidings that Laura Bush wants none other than and no less a personage than Oscar de la Renta to design her inaugural gown. The First Lady wants to be glamorous, photographable and altogether visible across all those rooms crowded with dignitaries when she and the President attend no fewer than eight inaugural balls on Jan. 20.

As for the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara have told their designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka that they want to look sexy and sophisticated. So Mark and James are putting together long, slinky dresses in pastel shades, one slit up the front and the other cut up the side, but not enough to give even the tiniest bit of concern to their grandmother, Barbara Bush, who always wants them to look and act like the little ladies they were brought up to be. The dresses will be covered with just the right amount of beads, sequins and maybe even a few feathers to give the girls the outstanding effect they crave. Feel free to go Wow!

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It’s snowing in Aspen, and the skiing is already said to be top-notch. This is good news for Katie Couric and her two daughters, Elinor, 13, and Caroline, 8, who will be checking into the Little Nell Hotel for the holidays, and for Mariah Carey, who will be renting her own chalet. Newlyweds Christine and Kevin Costner are already cozily tucked into their new ranch house, as are Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, who have just bought several acres adjacent to their mountain property for additional privacy. You know how movie stars crave privacy.

Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson will celebrate their fourth anniversary with Kate’s mother, Goldie Hawn, and Kurt Russell. Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett, are finishing up the details of their annual New Year’s Eve party. Don Johnson, who just put his bankruptcy woes behind him, is reclaiming his Woody Creek ranch that he took off the market recently and is planning on rejoicing with his wife Kelly and their children. No word yet on whether Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas will fly in to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their New Year’s Eve betrothal in the Rockies. This would, of course, be after their traditional Christmas swim out to the middle of the private bay in Bermuda in front of the hotel they own there. While they’re swimming around out there, they put a Santa Claus cap on a statue in the bay, which they call Ariel, after the character in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Their hotel is called Ariel, too.

This story first appeared in the December 17, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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The winter season kicks off tonight with the opening of the Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet’s new production of “The Nutcracker,” presented by Bulgari, which will host a dazzling party to celebrate the opening of its new shop on Aspen’s Cooper Avenue on Dec. 29. The jeweler will showcase $25 million of its most spectacular gems, including a $775,000 ruby and diamond collar consisting of 72 Burmese rubies and 512 round diamonds, and a million-dollar necklace dripping 50 pear-shaped emeralds and 57 pear-shaped diamonds. The guests will be greeted by a practically topless model in the window, who will be decked out in the diamond “Astrale Halter” stretching from her neck to her navel. You can wear it your way if you can come up with a paltry $650,000. As for the statuesque model, she will be clutching a full-length sable from Fendi’s elegant boutique on South Mill Street. Fendi will give a series of après-ski cocktail parties to showcase their latest collection from Rome of every luxurious fur you can name, and maybe some you can’t. Bulgari will give a buffet dinner at the Caribou Club after the opening for jewel-loving celebrities and just plain rich folk who want to shine with the stars.

On the same night, the Swiss jeweler Chopard will open its first Aspen outpost, around the block on Galena Street, with a big party to unveil the Elton John Watch Collection for the first time in the Rockies. Elton John himself designed the wristwatches, which sparkle with colored diamonds just like Elton does sometimes. A portion of the proceeds from the opening will go to support his AIDS foundation. Chopard will be the co-host for his big Oscar night party on Feb. 27 in Hollywood. Also shown at the party will be the new tonneau-shaped watch Elton just designed. The very first one made is owned by the Prince of Wales, and yes, part of the sale price benefits the Prince’s charitable foundation. Chopard’s additional collection includes its “Happy Snowflake” earrings, pendants and timepieces that have diamond snowflakes floating between layers of sapphire crystals — and let’s not forget their new “Ice Cube” necklace, made of 1,608 diamonds set in white gold, that you can pick up for the holidays for half a million dollars. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow — money.

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Hugh Grant is pleased as punch that he can put his English degree from Oxford University to good use. He will be the celebrity literary judge for England’s prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year, to be awarded in January.

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On Jan. 26, the London Symphony Orchestra will hold its 2005 New York gala celebrating the 80th birthday of famous maestro Pierre Boulez. The gala will feature three concerts at Carnegie Hall, with the maestro conducting. The opening gala will begin with a champagne reception at the Metropolitan Club, followed by a recital featuring some of the world’s most celebrated musical artists, including Emanuel Ax, Julia Fischer and principal London Symphony Orchestra musicians. The Bank of America will sponsor the evening, and the International Benefactor Chairmen are Mrs. Rodderick Gow and Mrs. Martin Gruss. The gala’s chairmen are Marie Douglas-David, Louise MacBain and Sir Howard Stringer. The London Symphony Orchestra has been making music for 100  years, and Boulez has spent much of his life contributing to the world of classical music.

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