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All About Evelyn at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation Gala

Like a giant swarm of chic bees in beaded frocks and black tie, they buzzed into the Waldorf’s Astor and Jade Salons in search of nectar — OK, make that cocktails. Then they swarmed out again and into a great pink and white hive, the hotel’s Grand Ballroom decorated to its top tiers in an explosion of flowers and balloons and silver streamers and such, for what was called the Soiree Bouquet. It was the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s party of the year, a great success, social and otherwise — the otherwise being more than $3 million raised for the cause, which has been Evelyn Lauder’s baby since its birth. She, its founder and always its vibrant mentor.

This story first appeared in the April 16, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The stars were out. Elizabeth Hurley in white that cling, clang, clung was the mistress of ceremonies and Lionel Richie, a one-man rock concert, entertained after dinner, bringing down the house and raising it to its feet all at the same time, including First Lady Libby Pataki in a black and diamond necklace, who really grooved to Lionel. And then there was Sir Elton John, the one and only, who, in a duet with Richie, whipped up the frenzy. I love to see a rich crowd having fun, don’t you?

Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s ran the auction, which drew big bids for tea with Hurley, acting lessons with Kevin Kline, two pairs of Elton John’s sunglasses and, listen to this, $31,000 for an intimate dinner for 10 to be given at home by Evelyn and Leonard Lauder with Evelyn doing the cooking. It was bought by Cindy Spengler. It was Evelyn’s recipe, by the way, that the Waldorf’s chefs used to make the entrée at dinner: salmon cooked with rice wine vinegar, ginger, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, a whisper of garlic and a soupçon of sugar. (No skin, please, we’re gourmets.) The dish is called Salmon Saint Nelida after the Lauders’ beloved cook because, says Evelyn, “Nelida is her name and she’s a saint.”

You really should know that Evelyn was dressed for the evening in an off-the-shoulder black beaded and fringed top by Ralph Lauren and black chiffon trousers by Giorgio Armani. Very fetching. Oh, and she’s letting her hair grow and has a new ’do. You’ll love it. In the crowd wearing pink ribbons, the insignia of the foundation, were Princess Olga of Greece, co-chairmen Sir Evelyn and Lady de Rothschild in strapless black-and-white beads, Cornelia Guest, Karen and William Lauder, Ingrid Sischy, Sandy Brant, Vera Wang, Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder, the chairman of the Medical Advisory Board Dr. Larry Norton, pretty Phoebe Cates and hundreds of others — too blue ribbon and pink ribbon — to mention.

Prince Edward Windsor Earl of Wessex arrived in New York without his Countess because, unfortunately, she fell and damaged her royal neck. The Prince and Barbara de Portago, the vice president of the Versailles Foundation, put their heads together and thought that Edward’s love of history would translate into a series of “Historical Myths,” amusingly presented exclusively for the foundation. No slides, no podium and 15 minutes only. Edwards’ chat of the evening at the Carlisle Hotel was on “King Richard I of England, the Lion Heart.”

We learned that Richard spoke not one word of English, only French, and that he bankrupted England twice. First, to finance his 12th-century crusades to Palestine and secondly, when he laid England’s Treasury there to pay the ransom of 150,000 marks for his release from imprisonment by his enemy, Emperor Heinrich VI of Austria. Returning from Palestine, the dear man was shipwrecked in the Adriatic. Making his way by land through Europe, he entered the territories of his enemy, Leopold of Austria, disguised as a woodsman. He betrayed himself because, despite the disguise, he was wearing fine leather gloves. This Richard needed a Lion Heart. Legend has it that the King’s minstrel, Blondel, searched Austria castle by castle, trying to locate the imprisoned Richard by singing his favorite song until he heard Richard sing back in response from the castle he was kept in.

Richard’s shield carries three leopards, which are part of today’s British Monarchy’s Coat of Arms. Almost everyone thinks of them as lions but, please, don’t you make that mistake. The chairman of the Versailles evening was American heiress Gillian Spreckels Fuller, dressed in a jade Givenchy with matching emeralds. You will be thrilled to hear that under the palm trees, the guests dined on Beef Wellington and English Trifle. And among them were Vivien and Guy Wyser-Pratte, Jill Sackler, the Earl and Countess of Albemarle, Marisa Berenson, Marjorie Gubelmann, Muffie Potter Aston, Debbie Bancroft and Patricia Kluge Moses.

Every year, the Versailles Foundation is delighted to get donations from Lily Safra, the Desmarais family of Canada, the Dorrances from Lyford Cay, Bloomberg Inc., Doda Voridis, and Laurence Rockefeller. They are all friends of Florence van der Kemp, president of the Versailles Foundation, and her daughter, Barbara de Portago.

Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica, Chris Rock’s wife, Malaak, and Dan Lufkin’s wife, Cynthia, will give a party along with Calvin Klein at his Madison Avenue store on April 25 to kick off the 25th anniversary of Safe Horizon’s champion awards. Safe Horizon is the nation’s leading victim assistance organization and helps more than 350,000 New Yorkers every year. The award will be presented to Bruce Klatsky, ceo of Phillips-Van Heusen, which just acquired Calvin Klein, and Louis Camilleri, ceo of Altria, on May 6 at the Waldorf. Cynthia Lufkin is chairman of the evening and among those lending their support for the big do are Tom Brokaw, Bette Midler and Ed Koch. Among the committee members are Tara Rockefeller, Karen LeFrak, Nicole Miller, Cornelia Guest, Diana Quasha and Brooke McMurray, Safe Horizon’s chairman of the board. The junior chairmen are Lydia and Gillian Hearst, who are both young and fashionable. Oh, and loaded.

Princess Stephanie of Monaco can’t seem to get the circus out of her blood. Friends of the family say she is now dating not one, but two circus acrobats. You all remember her last big affair was when she ran away to live with Franco Knie and travel with his Swiss Circus. As for her brother, Prince Albert, he’s still on the high wire as far as choosing a bride.

Angelina Jolie has pledged $5 million over the next 15 years to create a 50,000-acre wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia that will restore the forested areas and protect wildlife. Angelina has also bought a house in Cambodia so that Maddox, her 18-month-old adopted Cambodian-born son, will grow up knowing his native roots. She has hired a Cambodian tutor so that they both can learn his native language. It sounds like a good way to keep the family secrets secret.

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