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High Tide in London’s Social Swim * Anna Getty’s Grand Gown
In Wednesday’s column, you read here how the Prince of Wales’ guests at his royal dinner at Windsor Castle swept through gorgeous, immense, towering-ceilinged, gilt-paneled, pricelessly furnished drawing rooms and dining rooms on their way to the Grand Reception Room where Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were waiting to greet them with smiling faces, easy charm, lots of champagne and no pomp. When I say Grand Reception Room, I mean grand beyond measure — great, glittering chandeliers; dripping crystal; gold leaf gleaming from lofty ceilings and walls, and marble, marble everywhere. George IV once intended this room to be a ballroom — this is, after all, a castle. Now, Queen Elizabeth uses it to greet her guests before state banquets. At the entrance stands a huge malachite and gold urn given to Queen Victoria by Czar Nicholas. It is one of the largest outside Russia, as it should be when you consider the kind of legend Victoria was.
This story first appeared in the July 11, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
What next, after all this, you think. What next? What next is an even more magnificent room, Saint George’s Hall, in gothic marble and one of the most historic rooms in the castle, with vaulted ceilings reaching to the sky and where, for six centuries, the coats of arms of the Knights of the Garter have decorated the walls. This is where the guests were seated for dinner at an enormously long table where, stretching down the center from one end to the other, an exquisite garden of freshly growing tiny wildflowers blossomed and 20-foot white birch trees towered overhead. At each setting, a menu, handpainted with flowers and vines, announced what would be served — asparagus with smoked salmon, roast fillet of beef and Pear William ice cream with lavender shortbread and a pear crisp accompanied by fine wines, including Hygrove Rose, named after Prince Charles’ country house. Steven Rockefeller, not really ready for all that vintage grape, asked for a beer to go with his beef — and he got it! There will always be an England, but there will also always be an America, and an American.
After dinner, the guests descended the grand staircase to The Quadrangle where, marching up and down and around on the vast green lawns, the Royal Marines gave a heart-stirring performance of British and American airs and marches, with the walls of Windsor Castle silhouetted in the background, where flaming torches blazed. Yes, there will always be an England.
And here is who was there: Ezra and Cecile Zilkha (in a yellow chiffon off-the-shoulder Madame Grès); Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner; Washington media and banking tycoon Joe Allbritton and his wife, Barby, their son, Dr. Robert Allbritton (seated on Camilla’s left at dinner), and his wife, Elena; Pauline Pitt; Hilary Geary in lime paillettes with Wilbur Ross; Astrid and Kip Forbes; Nicola and Robert Wilson; Joan Rivers; from California, Betsy Bloomingdale, Marion Jorgenson and Erlenne Sprague; Rose Marie Bravo, the pride of Burberry in black and white; Denise Hale, the pride of San Francisco, in a purple brocade jacket straight from India; Robert and Blaine Trump, in a long black silk skirt and a black and white silk off-the-shoulder blouse, bought at 4 o’clock that afternoon at Bellville Sassoon; George Farias (seated on Camilla’s right), Patricia Hearst Shaw and Bernard Shaw; Anne Hearst with her beautiful young daughter, Amanda; Genevieve, and Frederick Ryan; Chris and Robin Donahoe; Mary and Mandell Ourisman, of the Washington Ourismans; Nada and Nemir Kirdar; Ambassador Earl Phillips and Sallie Phillips and on and on into the night. If that wasn’t a dazzling night to remember, there never will be one.
Let us leave Windsor Castle in England until next week when we return to regale you with tales of the Prince of Wales’ other supremely elegant dinner at his other residence, Clarence House; advertising genius Mary Lawrence’s breathtaking London apartment; Lord (Jacob) Rothschild’s chess dinner at Somerset House, and Sir Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara celebrity-studded ball at his English Country estate, this before it’s time for Sir Elton to give another White Tie and Tiara ’do. So many parties, so little space. Oh, and all about Nancy Reagan and the festivities surrounding the commissioning of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan in Norfolk tomorrow.
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, Anna Getty, the beautiful daughter of Gisela Getty and Jean Paul Getty III, the granddaughter of the late J. Paul Getty Jr. and a great-granddaughter of America’s first billionaire, J. Paul Getty, is marrying cinematographer Gregory Pruss on Aug. 8 in Fiesole, Italy, at the Villa di Maiano with parties night and day for 350 guests. Anna was in New York this week for the final fitting of her romantic and extravagant Maggie Norris wedding gown, made to measure and mirror every inch of her lovely figure. The gown is being kept under wraps and is so top secret that Maggie is creating a special muslin bag so that Anna can hand-carry it personally aboard the plane for her big day. Who’s going to tell, the pilot?
Lauren Bush, President Bush’s niece, is in London, studying fashion at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, the fashion school where would-be designers cut their teeth. She also found time to dip her pretty little toes into the London social swim, Wimbledon, Ascot and a house party at the home of her friend, David de Rothschild, the handsome 25-year-old son of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and his former wife, the American-born Victoria Schott. Lauren and David have been quietly getting to know each other for the past couple of years, and what better way to do that than seeing the family’s stately home. It’s called Ascott House and was built in 1873 on 90 acres of another stately home, Mentmore. The extraordinary house contains the family’s remarkable collection of art, furniture and Chinese ceramics. The beautiful gardens are open to the public, and David gave Lauren a guided tour from top to bottom. And Lauren, an Elite model, is due back in New York next week to take acting lessons before she returns to Princeton for the fall semester. Lauren and her younger sister, Ashley, will be featured in an “In the Jeans” layout in the August issue of Glamour — and if all this isn’t glam enough for you, it’s glam enough for them.