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It was the New York Philharmonic’s opening night, a celebration of its 164th season, and although it’s a bit hard to find anyone who was there in person 164 years ago, the audience on Wednesday would be thrilled to tell you the orchestra is better now than ever.

If you go by money — and who doesn’t? — the gala evening raised $3.1 million. If you go by the guests, there were 960 of them. If you go by a magnificent guest artist, there playing away was the genius Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin. As for the orchestra’s conductor, who better than the brilliant maestro Lorin Maazel leading the orchestra’s 106 members in Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto No. 5” (named for Napoleon Bonaparte) and Richard Strauss’ lyrical “Don Juan and Der Rosenkavalier.” Who better, indeed.

Everyone cultured, or nearly so, was there — the gala chairmen J. Christopher Flowers and Mary H. White, Colleen and Robert Hekemian Jr., and Yoko and Masamoto Yashiro and such avid supporters of the Philharmonic as Paula and Dr. Leon Root, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis and Karen and Richard LeFrak of the real estate LeFraks.

It was really a dressy-uppy evening. Dear Karen was wearing a black cashmere sleeveless top and skirt and a jeweled belt tied in the back with a satin bow by Oscar de la Renta. The LeFraks filled their box with such friends as handbag designer Cece Cord, wearing a black Angel Sanchez gown with spaghetti straps and a full skirt that pooled to the floor and was meant to cover the soft cast she was wearing after breaking two of her toes jumping over her Yorkshire terrier, Tiger.

Two beautiful blondes, Paula Root and Joanne de Guardiola wore the same dress — it was the dress of the evening — designed by another beautiful blonde, Carolina Herrera, a black-and-white chiffon printed with black jelly beans good enough to eat and worn with a smoky topaz jeweled belt.

This story first appeared in the September 23, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Jessie Araskog wore a black Escada that set off so nicely the glorious new diamond bracelet from Verdura that her husband, Rand, gave her for her birthday. And this is who else was there — Diana and Paul Guenther (he is the chairman of the board of the Philharmonic); Carroll Petrie; Ambassador Diego Arria and his wife, Maria Eugenia; Beverly Sills; Judy and Ed Ney, and on and on into the night.

Let’s hope those soft casts on various and sundry people’s feet are not a trend. Root wore his because he hurt his ankle and foot playing tennis, and Evelyn Lauder hurt her foot slipping on a walk in Aspen. They and Cece were really very brave about appearing with one clodhopper because the three of them smiled sweetly all during the performance.


Michel David-Weill and Madame Michel David-Weill, known to her friends as Hélène, have invited their social and powerful friends (Michel is a legendary banker) to the marriage of their daughter, Agathe David-Weill, to Pierre Mordacq. The ceremony will take place on Saturday afternoon at la Chapelle Notre Dame de la Garoupe (Cap d’Antibes). Le tout Paris was at the très chic reception that Hélène David-Weill and Madame Patrick Mordacq, the groom’s mother, gave several days ago at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.


Big to-do in Russia: On Thursday, Bertrand du Vignaud de Villefort, president of the World Monuments Fund in Europe, and Yves Bouvier, the founder and president of the Moscow World Fine Arts Fair, were the co-hosts of a very gala, very black-tie benefit in the historic Kremlin Palace State Apartments, which are rarely, if ever, open to the public. Very exclusive. Proceeds from the benefit will be dedicated to the restoration of the Ostankino Palace, the famous pink-and-white Neoclassical treasure built by the Sheremetev family, one of Russia’s richest and most powerful noble families during the 18th century. You should know this is the first time that Russians have joined with an international group of private donors in an event that benefits the restoration of a Russian monument.

The august guests started the evening strolling through the aisles of the art fair, where they saw an extraordinary assemblage of paintings, furniture, sculpture, jewelry and antiquities from a superb list of more than 70 international dealers from France, the United States, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Germany and Russia. Then the patrons were whisked to the Kremlin’s gorgeous reception halls, there to be serenaded by the famous Russian violinist Youri Bachmet. The evening ended with a reception in the spectacular state apartments. Among the guests were the Marchesa Cristina Pucci, Madame François Pinault, Juan Pablo and Pilar Molyneux, Ambassador and Mrs. Javier Perez de Cuellar (he is the former Secretary General of the United Nations), Delfina Rattazzi Agnelli, Hubert Lanvin, Prince and Princess Michael Orloff and Hubert Guerrand-Hermès with his daughter, Olimpia. Culturati all.


Six months after the death of her father, Prince Rainier, Princess Stephanie seems to be in love again. Dear God. This time with the 26-year-old French bartender, handsome, they say, who uses only one name, Mathieu. They were spotted acting very cozy at a soccer game in Monte Carlo stadium with her 12-year-old son, Louis Ducruet, sitting next to them and again at still another game in the stadium a few weeks before with Stephanie’s 7-year-old daughter, Camille Gottlieb, at her side. There never has been a time when that Stephanie didn’t get around. She’s democratic, too, socializing at the beach with Daniel Ducruet, her former bodyguard and ex-husband, even when his current partner is along.

So this should signal the end of her fling with Franck Brasseur, the married croupier she picked up after her marriage to Portuguese acrobat Adans Lopez Peres failed. Does anybody really care?

Well, they do in Russia, where she was wildly popular during a visit there earlier this month. Hundreds of fans waited for her outside the entrance to the circus in St. Petersburg, hoping for a glimpse of her as she arrived for a performance. The sometimes-shy — usually at the wrong times — Stephanie decided she wasn’t up for the crowd, so she slipped through a service entrance when she thought no one was looking. Oh, sure.

<p>Cece Cord</p>

Photo By: John Calabrese

<p>Carroll Petrie</p>

Photo By: Steve Eichner

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