Gloria Vanderbilt went to Newport over the weekend to speak at the Brown University seminar on "The Gilded Age in America"--and, pray, who better? She spoke in the Great Hall of The Breakers, the magnificent palace--they called it a summer cottage in the Gilded Age--her ancestor, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, built in 1895, a hundred years ago. She was a smash, a triumph. Before beginning her lecture, Gloria said a few very personal words to the audience expressing her deep feeling for her family past and present: "I kept wishing all day that my mother (Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt) and the father I never knew (Reginald Vanderbilt) would be here with us at The Breakers tonight. I kept wishing that my aunt Gertrude (Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney) and Aunt Gladys (Gladys Vanderbilt, Countess Szechenyi) and my grandmother and grandfather (Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt and Cornelius Vanderbilt II) and my sister Cathleen (Cathleen was Reginald Vanderbilt's daughter from his first marriage) were here. And my uncles, Neilly, Alfred and Willie. Wishing that my sons, Chris and Stan Stokowsi, Carter and Anderson Cooper, would be with us here tonight. And then as I walked into The Breakers I knew my wish had been granted. Because my cousin Sylvia is here and my cousin Paul is here and because I am here--the others are all here too." She brought down the house. Cousin Sylvia is Sylvia Szechenyi, Countess Szapary, the doyenne of the family, who lives on the top floor of The Breakers. Sylvia will be there with stars on when this great house celebrates its 100th anniversary at a grand ball July 22. And so will Gloria.

New York and Southampton are losing Elena Ford, Charlotte Ford's daughter and the late Henry Ford II's granddaughter, to Detroit where it all started in the first place when Elena's great-great grandfather, the original Henry Ford, invented the Model T and founded the great family fortune. Elena will join the Ford Co. in the public relations department. Uncle Edsel is a big shot in the company and lots of Elena's cousins live there so she won't be lonely. Besides hasn't she just about had it with Southampton for a while?For the Fourth of July weekend, Sandy and Bob Pittman are boarding the family plane for Nantucket with Hamish Bowles of the Vogue Bowleses in tow. They'll be guests of New York decorator Jeffrey Bilhuber at his island retreat called Candle House. Bilhuber's friend, Gerry Herrod, the British shipping tycoon, is sending his 131-foot sailing sloop, Philanderer, up from its summer mooring in Newport to keep the Bilhuber household entertained, the sweet thing. Philanderer is high-luxe with four staterooms, marble baths, a gym, a sauna, everything but the kitchen, make that galley, sink. Bilhuber plans to sail the seas around the island with 20 Nantucket swells, and bully for him. As for Gerry Herrod, he hopes to host the Clintons in Martha's Vineyard this summer aboard the Philanderer. Since the Clintons are supposed to be headed for California, what do you think his chances are? How about zilch?

'Tis the season to be social and London is atwitter with glamorous goings-on and big names, so Vanity Fair is taking advantage of it all. Graydon Carter, editor in chief, is giving a big dinner tonight to raise money for the Serpentine Gallery and guess who will be there? The Princess of Wales, who else? Would a party be a party without her? You needn't bother answering.
The dinner will be held under a tent outside the gallery in the gardens of Kensington Park, and just everyone will be there--Viscount and Viscountess Linley, Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Elle Macpherson and her hot number Tim Jeffries, Cynthia (Mrs. Graydon) Carter, Lee Radziwill and Herb Ross, Diane Von Furstenberg and Barry Diller, Valentino, Heather Watts, Jack Soto, like that. The Prince of Wales? Don't be sil. It's Diana's night.

Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward, whose fiancAe, Sophie Rhys-Jones, is now living with the royals in Buckingham Palace to get the hang of things before she marries into the family, is coming to New York in a couple of weeks to film a major TV documentary on his great-uncle, the Duke of Windsor--and the Duchess of Windsor, of course. The prince will interview those New Yorkers who knew the Windsors well. The program will be aired early next year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the duke's abdication.Priscilla Ulmann of New York and Southampton, the granddaughter of the march king John Philip Sousa, has joined McMillen Inc., the splendidly upmarket interior design firm headed by Betty Sherrill of New York, Southampton and Hobe... Sound. Is that prestigious enough for you?

Along those lines, the fall auction season at Sotheby's will star the collection of the late Sister Parish, the legend's legend in the world of interior design and a singular personage in her own right. The collection, the contents of Sister's Manhattan maisonette, includes a spectacular array of furniture, decorations, paintings, rugs, silver and porcelain. Famous for her timeless, handsome and low-keyed approach to decorating, it was Sister who was responsible for the original American version of the English country house style in design. She and her still-going-strong partner, the renowned Albert Hadley, counted among their clientele some of the most prominent of American exponents of taste as Jackie Kennedy, Brooke Astor, Enid Annenberg Haupt, Bill Paley and members of the Getty, Mellon, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Engelhard and Whitney families. She decorated Jackie and Jack Kennedy's Georgetown house when he was a senator and redecorated several rooms in the White House when he was president. Her work in Ann and Gordon Getty's San Francisco house is an outstanding example of Sister's style and flair. Still, she didn't need an extravagant house to show off her talents. The bedroom in her New York apartment, once the residence of silent screen star Gloria Swanson, was so tiny it was almost only big enough to hold her bed. Ah, but the chic of it! The auction takes place on Sept. 29, and many of her friends and clients are expected.

In the year since Jackie Kennedy has been gone, her beloved project, the Municipal Arts Society, has seen a number of changes. Last summer the Society awarded the first Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award to Brendan Gill, and this summer will add new names to the board, including Duane Hampton and Timothy Forbes, who will join the ranks of Gill, Philip Howard and Arie Kopelman. Also to be appointed to preserve and guard the city's treasures are Laurie Beckelman, the former chairman of New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission, and Sally Hernandez-Pinero.

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