Does Catharine Hamilton, the noted Chicago philanthropist, love France as much as de Gaulle did? Maybe that’s going a bit too far. But certainly, she loves Versailles with the same fervor the hulking general did. You could say she’s in love with the place, the most magnificent place in the world.

For years Catharine has been working nuit et jour to keep this famous vision of beauty beautiful, her goal being to restore some of the palace’s treasures that had fallen into rack and ruin, primarily “Les Bosquet des Trois Fontaines,” the once-exquisite tiered fountain so beloved by Louis XIV, a crumbled and weed-choked wreck until Catharine began her crusade.

Obviously, you can’t do something like this all alone. That’s what friends are for. So Catharine set about enlisting her rich and caring pals, Francophiles one and all, into Le Societé des Amis de Versailles (The Society of Friends of Versailles), which is just what it sounds like. She appealed to their sense of history and beauty and lured them by arranging all sorts of hot meals and entertainment at the most exalted venues and private houses in Paris, where normally one could hardly get one’s foot in the door, and by hosting great dazzling balls at Versailles itself, all guild and grandeur and generous donors.

So now the American Friends are planning a series of meetings in New York this week, all very chic and stunning, to discuss plans for their next restoration at the palace. Today the Hon. and Mrs. Felix Rohatyn (you do recall the Hon. Felix is our former ambassador to France) are giving a noon reception — champagne will be served, naturellement — at their fine Fifth Avenue residence, to be followed by a luncheon at the splendid French Consulate, where French Consul General François Delattre will receive and where there will be a lecture by the noted scholar Christian Duvernois on the Petit Trianon, which is not to be missed, vous savez.

Later tonight, Dr. and Mrs. Henry Kissinger will graciously host still another reception at their residence on East 52nd Street and guests will dine at Le Perigord, where “a delectable feast” is promised and where the Comtesse de Mortemart and the Vicomte de Rohan will celebrate their birthdays. May I remind you that Mortemart and Rohan are fine old French names and that the vicomte is president of the societé.

This story first appeared in the September 28, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Thursday, everyone will troop up to the far-flung Rockefeller estate Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, where the hosts will be Kimberley and Steven Rockefeller, members of the societé’s board, and where Catharine and the Vicomte de Rohan will speak and Steven Rockefeller, a charming young man, will discuss the history of his family’s home. Lunch will be served in Kykuit’s private pavilion, of course. Later in the day, back in New York, the renowned interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux and his wife, Pilar, will entertain at their splendid town house. They will even have a top orchestra playing away on the roof, alors.

To finish off the fun and festivities, on Friday, Anne Bass will receive at her marvelous Fifth Avenue apartment, where champagne will be quaffed and Anne’s private art collection will be viewed. Then it will be off to Francine LeFrak Friedberg and Rick Friedberg‘s Park Avenue residence to view their collection of 19th-century paintings. Believe it or not, later on, there will be still another reception at Catharine and David Hamilton‘s Park Avenue pied-à-terre, where French chef Eric Renaux will show off his skills.

Mon Dieu, I mean Mon Dieu. I mean, really, Mon Dieu.


Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are trying to live a normal life together, but it ain’t that easy. The couple hopped on his-and-her motorcycles and made their way to a supermarket in Edmonton, Canada, where Brad is making a movie about Jesse James, to pick up cereal, potato chips and diet sodas. Is this the way they keep their beauty? They may be trying to avoid attention, but every word they say in public is reported in the local papers, including this nugget, “Babe, come over here.” That’s Angelina to Brad when she needed help with her bike. How’s that for breaking news?


Sienna Miller asked Jude Law not to accompany her to the sweet wedding last week of her sister, Savannah, to Nic Skinner in the English countryside. Among the guests were the girls’ divorced mother, Josephine Miller; their father, Ed Miller, and his new wife, the international interior designer Kelly Hoppen. Sienna was adorable in a white chiffon skirt and top with pink and blue flowers and an ivory waistcoat. She said she wanted to keep the ceremony low-key because “Savannah is a real hippie and hates the whole celebrity thing.” Me, too. Hate, hate, hate.


David Rockefeller and Lily Safra are among the committee members for the American Association of the Royal Academy Trust’s dinner at the Rainbow Room on Nov. 9. The night will honor the one and only Anne Armstrong, who was our first female ambassador to Great Britain, in 1976, and the painter Ed Ruscha, who represented the U.S. at this year’s Venice Biennale. The Trust’s royal patron is Prince Charles, who loves to paint in his own right. Frances Hayward, one of the gala’s chairmen, is giving a kick-off party at her Fifth Avenue apartment on Oct. 5, and among those expected are Elizabeth de Cuevas, Drue Heinz, Kip Forbes, Patricia Patterson, Mai Hallingby and Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman.

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