“I’m a modern gondolier,” Princess Dora Loewenstein explained. She was describing her costume at the Royal Academy’s Venetian masked ball in London the other night.

“I couldn’t find an antique costume at the last minute, so I stuck to the present day.”

One of Loewenstein’s problems may have been that most of the several hundred guests plundered every costume shop in town for velvet frock coats, big crinoline gowns, white wigs and tricornered hats. Andrea and Sally Chiari-Gaggia made their costumes out of bubble wrap, while Claire Burns probably had the best idea.

“My gown is a Saint Laurent couture gown I had in my closet,” she said, smiling. “That was an easy solution to the problem.” The guests wandered the academy’s courtyard and later went in for a buffet Italian dinner amidst the artworks of the summer exhibition, then struggled to dance outside in their weighty costumes in the hot summer night.

Meanwhile, everyone wondered where committee head Viscount Linley was (he never showed); and Americans Kim and Robert Hersov wondered aloud about New York versus London parties.

“Parties in New York are generally great,” Kim Hersov said. “This isn’t normal for London.”

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