Glamorous Kimberly Rockefeller and her husband, Steven, flew off to Paris to be honored by the American Friends of Versailles, who were celebrating the opening of the Bosquet de Trois Fontaines, an architectural masterpiece created by André Le Nôtre in 1677 with a little help from his friend, Louis XIV, in a corner of Versailles’ legendary gardens. The night was a salute to Steven’s great-grandfather, John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose work at the chateau started in the 1920s and is continued today by his son, Laurence Rockefeller, and the Rockefeller family. “Mr. Jr.,” as the family affectionately called him, replaced the roof of Versailles, which was leaking and in danger of collapse, risking the destruction of its priceless treasures. He also funded the restoration of the chateau’s two Trianons (castles), the Hamlet and Marie Antoinette’s little theater, and then went on to restore the Chateau of Fontainebleau and the Cathedral of Rheims in the Thirties. His munificence — and that’s what it was — adds up to over $2 billion in today’s currency. Thank you, dear Mr. Jr.
For the gala dinner — and there have only been two or three of them in modern times in the main chateau — Kimberly Rockefeller slipped into a sleek, black backless Escada gown trimmed in black pailettes, and snapped on a pair of blinding diamond chandelier earrings to boot, a gift from her husband to commemorate the occasion. It’s the only way, really.
This story first appeared in the June 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The evening began with a champagne reception in one of the Sun King’s magnificently restored marble corridors and moved on to a private concert in L’Opéra Royale, which hadn’t been used in over 150 years. It was here that a seven-year-old prodigy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed impressively for Marie Antoinette, so it was only appropriate the concert featured the composer’s work. After the musicale, there was a grand promenade in Les Salles du XVII Siècle du Musée, followed by more champagne in the Vestibule Haut de la Chapelle Royale, which was used for the king’s most brilliant and celebrated fetes.
Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, forever labeled by those in the know as one of the world’s most fashionable women, wearing a tangerine gown and a major diamond necklace that would have thrilled even Marie Antoinette; Amyn Aga Khan; Baron Guy de Rothschild; Florence Van der Kemp, whose late husband was once the curator of Versailles; Anne Marie and Edward de Ganay; Becca Cason Thrash, the Texas Flash, in a black ruffled ballgown by Ralph Rucci, and Catharine Hamilton, who founded the Friends of Versailles in 1997, led the applause after Steven’s speech about his family’s philanthropic work at the famous palace.
After the delicious dessert — very fancy bananas covered in raspberry sauce — everyone adjourned to the Grand Terrace, where the water fountains played in the air and the marching band of La Garde Républicaine serenaded the guests with a combination of French and American classics. Oh my!
The next night, Patricia Hearst, wearing a navy blue Chanel suit and accompanied by her daughters — Gillian Hearst-Shaw, who was tied into a black Vera Wang dress, and Lydia Hearst-Shaw, in a demure pink day dress by Heatherette — gave a hand when their friends, Kimberly and Steven, were saluted at a reception given by U.S. Ambassador to France Howard Leach and his wife, Gretchen, at the elegant American embassy. The party’s guest of honor was Nancy Kissinger, chic and cool in a light gray suit and a crutch, the one she’s been using after fracturing her knee running to save her beloved dog from a brown bear in Connecticut. “The dog almost got us all killed,” she laughed. “But that’s another story.” I’ll say.
Her husband, Henry, flew off to China on a mission last week and left Nancy to rough it at the Ritz alone. Oh ha ha ha ha ha.
Also Ritz-ing it last week were Lee Radziwill, Mario Testino, Elizabeth Hurley, Steven Spielberg, Spiros Niarchos, Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller. Seen lunching at the famous Ritz bar — which sometimes seems to be the center of the universe, or at least the fashion universe — were Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, at their usual tables on opposite sides of the room. On other days, Tom Ford, Hedi Slimane, Bernard Arnault, Jean Paul Gaultier and Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce also were spotted passing through. Ça va for Paris. Next week: London.
Minnie Driver is seeing one of her dreams come true. The darling girl has signed a recording contract with Rounder Records to release her debut album, “Everything I’ve Got in My Pocket,” late this summer. The album will contain original material, which Minnie says is a mix of pop with a hint of folk. Her singing career should peak around Christmas with the release of the film version of “Phantom of the Opera,” in which she stars as an opera singer, of course. She’s not the phantom type.
In his next movie, “Collateral,” Tom Cruise will play against type as a cold-blooded assassin and not a young one but one well over 40, with gray streaks in his hair. “The objective was simply to be someone else,” says the film’s director, Michael Mann. It must have worked because after the acting coaches finished working with him, Cruise went incognito by dressing as a Federal Express courier in Los Angeles and delivered a package to an unwitting clerk in a liquor store and then went into a coffee shop, where he was unrecognized by everyone in the place. Of course, this will not be the first time Cruise has played against type. Remember “The Last Samurai” and “Magnolia”?
Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz flew to London for a good time last week. This added more confusion to their repeated denials of any romance, rumors that have been rampant ever since they started filming “Sahara” earlier this year in Morocco, right after Penélope broke up with Tom Cruise. Reports from the set had them close, closer and closest and then Matt crossed the Straits of Gibraltar last month to meet her family at her birthday party. Supposedly, the two stars were terribly involved with one another at a rock concert in London and then appeared even cozy, cozier and coziest as they had dinner with friends in Covent Garden well past midnight.
Sabina Forbes II, the daughter of Steve Forbes, fabric designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski and Dr. Katherine Cohen, the college admissions expert, are hosting a party for Wall Street financier George Weiss, the founder of Say Yes to Education, on June 29. The foundation provides support for inner-city students from kindergarten through high school and when they graduate, Say Yes pays for their college education. The program, begun in Philadelphia, is developing new projects with New York City school chancellor Joel Klein and Columbia University, and that’s wise.