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Princess Aga Khan Gears Up * ABT’s Foreign Intrigues * Elton John Rules

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Rita Hayworth’s daughter, is flying in from Utah to oversee the finishing details on her new house in Southampton. Not only is she getting the house ready, but she’s working on next October’s Alzheimer’s Association’s Rita Hayworth Gala, the “Magic of Mardi Gras.” It takes place on Oct. 7 at the Waldorf, and as ever Princess Yasmin is general chairman. This year’s honoree is Donna Dixon Aykroyd, and Deborah Norville will once again show her stuff as the mistress of ceremonies. Rolex Watch USA, the corporate underwriter, will present one of Rolex’s timepieces during the evening to the winner of the “Best Mardi Gras Mask” contest. What fun.

This story first appeared in the June 18, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The gala, inspired by a Rita Hayworth film, “Old Louisiana,” will feature entertainment by the one and only Dan Aykroyd in his persona as Elwood Blues of the Blues Brothers Band. The Waldorf will be turned into the Big Easy for the night and the cuisine will be à la New Orleans. Pass the gumbo, s’il vous plait.

Gwyneth Paltrow will see America this summer with her boyfriend, Chris Martin, and his band Coldplay from the window of a bus. It doesn’t sound terribly glamorous, but the band is doing an American tour and Gwyneth wants to stay close to her man whenever she can, so she is choosing to become the band’s number-one groupie. Of course, she’s not just another “Penny Lane,” and who knows how it will all turn out. Rumors of an imminent engagement are flying fast. Some of Martin’s biggest fans are a little jealous and don’t like his catering to her and serenading her from the stage, while others are hoping that she joins him at the mic. You do remember Gwyneth’s karaoke singing in the movie “Duets” and her recording of “Bette Davis Eyes.” Stop that. It made the pop charts in Australia. Lots of luck on the road, dearie.

Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage? Don’t be frightened. They first met three years ago when they made “Gone in 60 Seconds,” but both were in love with others. They met again this year in London, where they had a few quiet dinners, and this spring Nicolas started work on “Ghost Rider” with Angelina’s father, John Voight. Father and daughter are not exactly cozy, so Cage decided to try to patch up any hard feelings between them. In the process, he and Angelina realized they could be more than “just friends.” They are now dating when they can, so watch out for fire and maybe ice later this year when she and he are together again filming a remake of the 1973 thriller “The Wicker Man.”

Now it’s official. Kate Beckinsale and director Len Wiseman are getting married. Everything happened over the weekend at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica when Len filled the “Presidential Suite” with white lilies, Kate’s favorite flower, and popped the question. She is now wearing a beautiful diamond ring on her left hand. The two are looking for their dream house in Beverly Hills and are planning the wedding for later this year. Kate’s four-year-old daughter, Lily, from her relationship with actor Michael Sheen, will be the flower girl, and both she and mommy will be carrying — yes, white lilies.

In a preview of what’s expected to be one of the most glamorous and innovative fund-raising events in New York ever, more than 350 guests gathered at the Ritz Carlton to plan the Sept. 15 benefit for the Central Park Conservancy. Candice Bergen played hostess and Bob Hardwick and his orchestra played music for the dancing.

This fall benefit will bring together 150 Manhattan hostesses who will all give dinners in Fifth Avenue apartments overlooking Central Park to benefit the Conservancy; 37 of them have already pledged $10,000 each. A highlight of the Sept. 15 parties will be a giant fireworks display at dusk in the Sheep Meadow in Central Park, with each apartment set for dinner offering a spectacular view. What a way to start the season.

On a wonderful night at the American Ballet Theater, Russia’s famed Kirov Ballet allowed its prima ballerina Diana Vishneva to come to New York to dance “Romeo and Juliet” with ABT’s Vladimir Malakhov for one magical performance. The prima ballerina has flown back to St. Petersburg now, but the memory of her performance lingers on. ABT’s prima ballerina Julie Kent, another great dancer, was exchanged for Vischneva, and one hears Julie was a triumph. At a small reception after the performance, 89-year-old Frederic Franklin, who partnered the equally legendary Alexandra Danilova at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo for 20 years, was congratulated on his performance in the role of Friar Lawrence. When he was asked his secret, Frederic took a sip of his wine and said with a smile, “This helps, you know.” As for Vischneva, she is already being courted to return next season for a longer stay. Please, please, please.

You can buy a special Elle Woods collectible Barbie doll now at stores all over the country this month before her summer extravaganza “Legally Blonde 2,” which will be released July 2. Once more, Reese Witherspoon does her thing as a blonde go-getter. Barbie will be a replica of Witherspoon in the MGM movie, wearing a pink (of course) silk suit with a matching pillbox hat, strappy pink heels, pearl earrings and necklace. Barbie will also carry a pink-and-white polkadotted tote bag with her beloved Chihuahua packed inside in a matching pink suit. Fine, but can we wait to see Reese in her next movie, “Vanity Fair,” playing scheming, conniving Becky Sharp, the ultimate social climber who velvet-claws her way to the top of London high society using cunning and cleavage? Hit it, Reese.

Have you been invited to Sir Elton John’s spectacular “White Tie and Tiara Ball” in London on June 26? Well, if you have, you are lucky. Just remember to leave your camera or recording equipment at home. They are not — repeat not — permitted, and if you arrive with such, you will have to surrender them at the door. This is a private, by invitation only party and security is so strict that no one — no matter how famous or important — will be admitted without photo identification (bring your passports, darlings) and all guests musts preregister in writing. The ball will support Sir Elton’s AIDS Foundation and remember — the dress code is WHITE TIE. Tiaras will be worn at your own risk. Have fun. Oh, and you can’t even gain access to the grounds by car unless you have a security pass in your front window.

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