H.R.H. Princess Michael of Kent, who graces New York with her presence every now and again, is gracing us once again, visiting from Oct. 19 to Nov. 4. Got those dates?
You all remember the Princess, don’t you? Tall, stately and golden haired, she is a lecturer of note — dramatic, authoritative and eloquent in the extreme. I mean, she’s a real star on the podium, you know what I’m saying?
This story first appeared in the September 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Thoroughly versed in highfalutin European history, the Princess speaks of kings, not cabbages. So, if the pranks and peccadilloes and fascinating gossip regarding both naughty lifestyles of the rich and royal of yore are your meat, the Princess is your filet mignon.
She will lecture at the Metropolitan Museum on Oct. 29. Her subject is “The Machiavellian Stuart King Charles II” and we all know what a scamp he was. She will also hold a crowd in thrall on Oct. 21 at a luncheon at the Asia Society, where she will no doubt regale them with her thoughts on “Italy and the Grand Tour,” the grand tour being the European trip all navy blue blooded English gentlemen of the period took to enlarge their cultural boundaries — and maybe get lucky on the side.
The luncheon, chaired by Jamee Gregory, Alexia Hamm Pickett and Daisy Soros is a fund-raiser for Venetian Heritage, whose name is the restoration of Venice’s treasures. Chanel is contributing to the event, where highlights of its Café Society cruise collection as well as key pieces of its couture and fine jewelry specially flown in from Paris will be shown at the hot meal at the Asia Society. Mademoiselle Chanel adored Venice and “was inspired by the city’s wealth to adapt her Baroque style jewelry to modern taste.” But you knew that.
When you think of San Francisco, what do you think of first, the Golden Gate Bridge or Denise Hale? Don’t bother. I already know. Mrs. Hale is known internationally for her fashion flair, her jewelry and an accent that after all these years in America, still won’t quit. After all those years of stalwart San Francisco society, she has never forgotten her native Yugoslavia. She flew to Belgrade for a visit last year and again this year, the reason being to personally donate two fully equipped ambulances she paid for to local hospitals where they are desperately needed. These were given in honor of her Yugoslavian grandparents, whom she loved dearly. Being Denise, she stayed not at some un-chic hotel but at the Royal Palace, also known as the Old Palace, the one the Yugoslav government gave to Crown Prince Alexander about a year ago. This is where the old king lived and the crown prince now resides.
You should know that there are two palaces in Belgrade — you never know when you’ll need the information — located in a central park, the Old Palace and the White Palace. And now for a little bit of history. Construction began on the White Palace during the reign of King Alexander, the present Crown Prince’s grandfather, and was completed according to his plans after his assassination when the benevolent dictator Tito came to power. The main suite in this palace was used only for visiting heads of state from Castro all the way to Putin. And guess who the Crown Prince chose to occupy it while she was in Belgrade? Everyone who guesses Denise gets a gold star. When she was a child in Belgrade, Tito took everything from her family and condemned her father to die. After much pleading by Denise’s grandfather, Tito agreed to save his life. What goes around comes around, so when Tito died, Denise went to Belgrade for his funeral as a member of the United States Presidential Delegation. And now she’s stayed in Tito’s very own suite in the White Palace. Who else would tell you these things?
Evelyn Lauder of the cosmetic Lauders signed her new book of photographs “An Eye for Beauty” at the Madison Avenue book store, and among those who lined up for a copy were Robin Williams, who carried out four of the books with their stunning pictures of landscapes, sunsets and all things beautiful. This was a prelude to the opening of Evelyn’s show of photographs at Pace/MacGill Gallery on Oct. 21, when all proceeds from the sale of her book and photos will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation that she founded. On that auspicious night, Evelyn will wear something designed by either Bill Blass or Emanuel Ungaro, depending on her mood, to receive her guests and then will accompany her husband, Leonard Lauder, to one of the season’s grand galas, the Black White & Whitney Ball, as in the Whitney Museum, of which her husband is the chairman of the board. The party’s chairmen this year are Hollywood’s Jerry Bruckheimer and Barry Diller, and New York’s Beth de Woody, Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Veronique Pittman. Heading up the after party are such as Alexandra and Alexandre von Furstenberg, and among those expected at the dinner-dance will be Ashley Judd, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, if they can break away from their latest jobs. Expected is the key word here.
Jean-Georges will create the menu and Colin Cowie will design the black and white decor à la Cecil Beaton’s famous “My Fair Lady” scene. If you sense a little Tinseltown in all this, good. You’re supposed to. The committee hopes you’ll wear something colorful to stand out in all this black and white. They specified black tie and “glamorously chic,” just so you don’t miss the point. The evening’s sponsors are Vivendi Universal and NetJets. Fred and Ginger would love it.