About a week ago, Mercedes and Sid Bass, the Texas tycoon and his divinely dressed wife, sitting in their ravishing house in Fort Worth, decided on the spot to give a party in New York to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary this past Wednesday. After all, they were married here, many of their friends live here, and so do they part of the time, in their far-flung Fifties apartment filled with boiserie d’or and precious antiques. The fact that they had one week to pull a celebration together didn’t daunt the likes of Mercedes. Just like that, she arranged to give the dinner party in the beautiful dining room of the St. Regis Hotel, called in Robin Lathrop, of Perfect Parties by Robin, to create the dreamlike decor, and one of Peter Duchin’s orchestras to play the music she and Sid love. Voilà!
Of course, she was the mastermind behind it all, but she gives enormous credit to Gary Merjian of the St. Regis, of whom she said, “He moved mountains and oceans to make the party happen in such a short time.” Each of the nine tables was centered with masses of red roses and there were white wrist gardenias and huge red and white feather boas for the ladies, just to get them in the spirit. Not that they weren’t already, to say nothing of the gents. And listen to this: Each of the tables had a name: Love, Intelligence, Passion, Devotion, Admiration, Compassion, Humor, Friendship and Loyalty. Why? Because the Basses made it clear that these are the qualities that a man and a woman should have to find total happiness with each other. If it smacks a little of a marriage manual, well, you can learn a lot in 15 years. Mercedes’ dress, custom-made, of course, was a poem, all champagne layers of tulle, delicately embroidered with tiny bugle beads and diamante, a beaded satin bodice and a huge tulle shawl draped to the side and tied with a flesh-colored satin bow. With the portrait neckline and the gorgeous shawl, it was reminiscent of a Boldini with shades of British designer Norman Hartnell and maybe Dior’s famous New Look. If it looked like a wedding dress, that was the way Mercedes wanted it, never mind what’s trendy now.
This story first appeared in the December 12, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
To get it made in time, Mercedes had three fittings in three days in Fort Worth and New York. She arrived the day of the party at six in the evening, flying in from Washington with Oscar de la Renta. They both raced to Oscar’s atelier to pull the dress together with seamstresses and assistants at the ready. At seven, Oscar was still fitting the dress, a pair of scissors in hand, trimming the hem while Mercedes stood on a coffee table. At 7:45, the dress was sent to the St. Regis. Mercedes arrived at 8 and was ready, from pearls to satin slippers, to greet her guests at 8:20. Whew!
And this is who was there helping them celebrate: Drue Heinz; Annette and Oscar de la Renta; Fernanda Kellogg and Kirk Henckels; Nancy and Henry Kissinger; Jayne Wrightsman; Lee Annenberg; Princess Firyal of Jordan; Sarah Giles; Mary McFadden; Patricia Patterson; Donna and Bill Acquavella; Cecile and Ezra Zilhka; Duane Hampton and her two daughters, Kate and Alexa; Kimba and Frank Richardson; Irith Landeau; Barbara Walters, Beverly Sills; Mica and Ahmet Ertugun; Wendy and Bill Luers, Ivana Lowell; Casey Ribicoff; Sherrie and David Westin; Hyatt Bass; Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera; Lally Weymouth; Evelyn and Leonard Lauder; Lena and Gilbert Kaplan; Catie and Donald Marron; Shirley and Abe Rosenthal; Judy and Alfred Taubman; Lorna and Larry Grave; Liz and Damon Mezzacappa; Judy and Ed Ney; Lauren and John Veronis; Mortimer Zuckerman; Joan and Sandy Weil; Lord Conrad Black; Boaz Mazur; John Whitehead; Georgette Mossbacher; Bob Colacello; Pete Hathaway; Robert Silvers; Ron Silver; Alexis Gregory; Jamie Niven; John Richardson; John Guare; Charles Ryskamp; Gil Shiva. You’ve heard of them all.
Robert De Niro and his wife, Grace Hightower, have kissed and made up. The two dated for 10 years before they finally married in 1997. Their six year-old son, Elliot, helped keep the marriage together but after too many rough spots De Niro filed for divorce in 1999. Now they are together and Grace is helping him recover from his recent health crisis. They’ve been spending time together with Elliot in De Niro’s country house in upstate New York and are making plans for a warm and cozy family Christmas. Somewhere there is a lot of mistletoe, so Elliott can sing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Heavens above!
Sally and Rufus Albermarle, she in a long black-and-white print dress by Chanel, headed over to Swifty’s to meet interior designer Richard Mishaan and his wife, Marcia, who was wearing a midnight blue velvet jacket by Yves Saint Laurent over slim blue jeans and a lot of diamonds. The Albermarles were joining a group in the restaurant’s back room to celebrate the opening of Richard’s Donghia Dreamroom, complete with Austrian crystal chandeliers and his new high-tech cabinetry to hold all the latest gadgets from the Sony Style Store. In the group were Pamela Fiori, in a black and white coat and dress by Oscar de la Renta; Annie Churchill, in her grandmother’s vintage white coat by Balenciaga; Bettina Zilkha; Tiffany Dubin in a vintage Cardin; Tory Burch in a sleek Valentino with her husband, Christopher; Nicole Miller, in, well, a Nicole Miller.
Monday, Pamela Fiori and Vera Wang will host the opening of Jackson Siegel Aaron Furniture in New York’s design building. The new store will feature pieces designed by Lisa Jackson and her partners and among the guests promising to raise a glass of champagne to the success will be Bobby Short, Nan Kempner, Carol and Freddie Guest and Eliza Bolen.