Two stupendous parties back to back packed the Waldorf-Astoria’s grand ballroom last week, raising jillions — as in many millions — of dollars for charity. A couple of wonder women billionaires, philanthropists of the first water, each masterminded the extravaganzas and both helped each other to hit the top financially in a big way. Isn’t that what friends are for? Hot is fine, but red hot is better. So it was that 800 generous guests heeded the siren call of Evelyn Lauder of the cosmetics empire, the red-hot founder of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the evening’s chairman, who blazed a trail to her Red Hot Pink Party and filled the coffers of this wonderful organization with a record-breaking $4 million.
The mistress of ceremonies was the actress Elizabeth Hurley, Lauder’s spokesmodel, looking sexy and sweet at the same time in something like a sari embroidered in pastel paillettes. (Well, she is going to marry her Indian, the one and only Arun Nayar, as soon as his rocky divorce runs its cover, isn’t she?) Josh Groban, the current heartthrob, throbbed his heart out from the ballroom stage, joined later by Sir Elton John, who helped him set the stage on fire. Leave it to Elton to turn up the heat.
The grand ballroom sparked and crackled with red and hot pink shimmering paillettes, just like La Hurley, and the table centerpieces were designed around vintage toy fire trucks, keeping the red hot motif going. Also feeding the fire were muy caliente firemen, who moved among the crowd selling raffle tickets for such tantalizing prizes as a diamond-encrusted Audemars Piguet watch or a delicious J. Mendel mink jacket and raising a few temperatures on the side. Christie’s Francois Curiel, the famed auctioneer, presided and it was he who sold the gorgeous pink sapphire ring, custom designed by the renowned jeweler JAR, for $85,000 to the banker Roberto de Guardiola as a surprise for his willowy wife, Joanne. Jamie Niven of Sotheby’s handled the bidding for Roberto. It was supposed to be a secret, but in this city, a secret is out before you even know it yourself. Among the evening’s hottest tamales were Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Dr. Larry Norton, the big man at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Leonard Lauder, the big man at Estee Lauder and, of course, Evelyn’s husband; BCRF president Myra Biblowit; Nayar; Princess Firyal of Jordan in Chanel’s oatmeal tweed top and chiffon skirt dripping with gray ostrich feathers; Lionel Pincus; the artist Chuck Close and his wife, Leslie; Anne Eisenhower and Wolfgang Flottl; David Furnish, Elton John’s partner who he will marry later in the year; Hilary and Wilbur Ross; Jamee and Peter Gregory; Veronica Hearst; Karen and Richard LeFrak; Estee Lauder model Carolyn Murphy with her boyfriend, the rock musician Brandon Boyd of Incubus; Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner; Pauline Pitt; Ingrid Sischy and Sandra Brandt, and, looking a dream in her French clothes, Lily Safra, the other wonder woman, whose glamorous party in the Waldorf the night before drew 650 guests for Lily’s charity, the International Sephardic Education Foundation. She underwrote the evening completely so that any donations she received were just the cherry on the sundae. But more of all that in Friday’s column.
In a major international clinical trial funded by the BCRF, it has been determined that the use of Herceptin decreases early recurrence and death from HER2-positive early stage breast cancer. At least 20 to 30 percent of women with breast cancer have this exact type of genetic mutation. This is fabulous news and is extremely exciting for women everywhere.
Prince Ernst of Hanover has checked into a clinic in Austria, where he is being treated for the drinking problem that brought on the acute pancreatitis for which he was hospitalized right before the death of his father-in-law, Prince Rainier of Monaco. Ernst has vowed to change his wild ways, saying that for 35 years his lifestyle has been more than difficult, “but now things are going to be different. I must take it step by step.” While this news is promising, you can expect an announcement soon that, due to the official three-month mourning period for her father, Prince Rainier, Ernst’s wife, Princess Caroline, will definitely not be able to attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala on May 2, of which she is the honorary chairman. However, you can expect to see co-chairs Nicole Kidman, Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour as well as designers Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, who are all giving parties at their stores in support of “Madison Avenue: Where Fashion Meets Art” Thursday night benefiting the Whitney Museum.
As for Herrera, she also will open an exhibit of portraits by photographer Slim Aarons of CZ Guest and Babe Paley, fashion immortals, at her shop Thursday night. Calvin Klein will unveil his “I Love New York” windows by painter Brendan Cass for the launch of the “Madison Avenue: Where Fashion Meets Art” block party. Up the street, Karan will host an exhibition of her late husband Stephen Weiss’ sculptures and Lauren will show photographs by Bruce Weber. Sonia Rykiel can’t make the party, so she sent over her portrait by Andy Warhol from Paris to hang in her boutique. The event, which includes 42 stores, will be open to the public for two weeks.
Everybody’s having a baby. Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld are expecting a third child next fall to join their four-year-old daughter, Sascha, and two-year-old son, Julian. In Hollywood or Sydney or wherever they happen to be at the moment, Heath Ledger and actress Michelle Williams also are saying they’re expecting and have been taking prenatal yoga classes in Australia. In Copenhagen, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and his beautiful wife, Crown Princess Mary, have announced that they are awaiting their first child, who will be third in line to the throne. And across the sea in Oslo, Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit will have their second child around Christmas. This baby will be third in line to the throne after his daddy and one-year-old sister, Princess Ingrid Alexandra.