Next week in La Belle France (let’s keep politics out of this), one of the grandest of weddings will take place at the magnificent Chateau de Versainville, a huge 18th-century castle in Normandy. If you motor from Paris for le mariage, it will take you three hours, but do believe me, it will be well worth it. The lineage alone of the bride and groom and the navy blue blood of many of the guests is really quelque chose. The French are very good at quelque chose.
The bride is Alix Van der Kemp and the groom is Count Pierre de la Rochefoucauld. The bride’s parents are Elisabeth de Ribes and Frank Van der Kamp and, écoutez, the bride’s grandparents are none other than the Count and Countess de Ribes, Edouard and Jacqueline, to those who know them best. Jacqueline de Ribes, a grand mère? Mais, non. It cannot be.
This story first appeared in the September 24, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Those of you who are experts in international society and the fashionables who inhabit it — and that means all of you, doesn’t it? — will instantly recall the exotic, sloe-eyed Countess de Ribes. For decades she has been the most gloriously glamorous figure in the purlieus of the très riche and the très grand. The best dressed of the best dressed, she is the kind of amazing woman who makes an entrance even when she goes out to walk le chien. Men have fallen at her feet for years, but she and her husband, the Count, a Paris banker, have remained together through however you say thick and thin in French. The bride’s other grandfather was the late Gerald Van der Kamp, a wonderful man of giant intellect and charm who brought even more glory to Versailles and Giverny when he served as curator.
The groom’s parents are Count and Countess Jacques de la Rochefoucauld and if that name rings bells, yes, one of his noble ancestors was the great French moralist and memoir writer, one of whose many maxims was, “The pleasure of love is loving.” Well, OK.
The bride-to-be’s wedding gown, designed by Ungaro, is a gorgeous confection of ivory taffeta and lace with which she will wear a tiara of diamonds and pearls. The wedding dinner at Versainville has been organized by France’s inestimable Pierre Celeyron, who can make a shanty look like a dream, so you can imagine what will happen when they let him loose at the castle, where the seated dinner is for 400 of the sublime.
An idea of who will be there? Well, how about the president of the Louvre, Henri Loyrette, and Madame Loyrette; the former Minister of Culture, Jean Jacques Aiguillon, plus our Ambassador to France, Howard Leach and his wife, Gretchen. Then there are Prince and Princess Michael of Greece; Jean Gabriel Mitterand; the Duke and Duchess de la Roche-Guyon of the Rochefoucauld family; the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, coming from England; the Duke and Duchess of Liancourt; Her Royal Highness the Duchess de Orleans; Princess Laure de Beauvau-Craon; Prince and Princess Maximilian de Merode, and His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Carl Christian of Austria. Sounds like fun to me.
And here’s more grand titles, all coming to New York on Oct. 7 when the Hispanic Society of America will celebrate its Centennial Gala at the Metropolitan Club. Who will be there? None other than Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Asturias, better known perhaps as Crown Prince Felipe of Spain (very good-looking) and his new bride, Crown Princess Letizia (very, very good-looking), who were married in Spain in May. This will be their first visit to the U.S. since then, and 300 distinguished guests from Spain and the Americas are expected at the black-tie dinner-dance given by the society, which was founded in 1904 by Archer Huntington, the American scholar and philanthropist, to promote the study of the rich arts and culture of Spain and its influence throughout the world. Now, the society’s museum and library collections include more than half a million works from The Bronze Age on. The co-chairs of the evening are Susan and Coleman Burke and Katharine and George Moore.
Andie MacDowell takes her beautiful head of hair to Queen Latifah’s “Beautyshop” in November, the comedy with Mena Suvari, Alicia Silverstone, Kevin Bacon and Alfre Woodard. Andie, whose film career began in 1984 with Glenn Close dubbing her voice because of a heavy Southern accent in “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes,” went on to achieve leading-lady status and next month will receive a Medal of Honor in the Arts from Winthrop University, the same school she attended for two semesters only to be told she wouldn’t go far in acting. Ha-ha.
George Clooney has been in New York helping his daddy, Nick Clooney, who used to be a host on the American Movie Classics network, raise money for his Congressional campaign in Kentucky. Clooney, who returns to Italy this week to shoot the final scenes for his movie, “Oceans 12,” has this minute signed on with Fiat to be the ambassador for their cute new minivan. George has just wrapped the television commercial, which will air in Europe for what would have been about 6 billion lire if Italy still had lire. So let’s just say it’s a multimillion dollar deal. The commercial shows George being lured into the SUV on a road near his Lake Como villa by a beautiful brunette, who locks Clooney in the car and drives away with him. The spot ends with the line, “George not included.” Maybe they could have sold a lot more cars if they had figured out how to clone Clooney.
Friends of Elizabeth Hurley think she just might be pregnant with her second child. She’s showing all the signs. She’s been dating her boyfriend, Arun Nayer, for 18 months and she has often said she would like a playmate for her two-year-old son, born from her unfortunate relationship with Hollywood producer Steve Bing. In Bombay, the story is rife in the tabloids, but Nayer — who recently divorced his wife, an Italian model, so he could be free to marry Elizabeth — is denying impending fatherhood. This is one of those things that only time will tell.
The British interior designer Kelly Hoppen, who has done things for Jude Law, Donna Karan and Sir Elton John, is coming to town next week to check out her new boutique at Bergdorf Goodman, which will open early next month. It will be a showcase for her line of home furnishings, cushions, linens and artifacts from around the world, all perfumed with her signature room scents. The opening will also celebrate the publication of her new book, “Kelly Hoppen Style: The Golden Rules of Design.” Among those expected at the Hoppen happening are Kimberly and Steven Rockefeller, Patty Hearst and Sally and Rufus Albemarle.