Byline: Aileen Mehle
John Richardson is a renowned art historian, a writer of prodigious talent (volumes I and II of his biography on the life and times of the Picasso he knew so well — with volumes III and IV yet to come — are so definitive no one need follow in his footsteps) and a wit so wonderfully wicked it brings joy to black little hearts everywhere. Now John has written his memoirs, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Picasso, Provence and Douglas Cooper,” a page-turner of the first water, candid, no-holds-barred and marvelously entertaining. His reviews have been raves, as they should be for a tour de force of the genre, which, in the hands of many, has been beaten to death, have you noticed? Thank you, John, for showing us the way.
Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, and Sonny Mehta, the president and publisher of Alfred A. Knopf, John’s publisher, gave him a cocktail party celebrating the publication of the book at Pastis, Keith McNally’s new beanery in the heart of the terminally trendy meatpacking district. The world came, as you must know, because it’s been written about endlessly in everything but Bikers magazine. Brightening up the bistro with its circular pewter bar were such worthies you might have missed as Barry Diller; Arthur Schlesinger Jr.; Marguerite Littman, the London hostess; Nan Kempner; Charlie Rose; Oscar de la Renta; Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne; Richard Meier; Diane Von Furstenberg; Agnes Gund of the Museum of Modern Art, and on and on and on into the night.
Afterward, John, Gita and Sonny Mehta, Shelly Wanger and David Mortimer, Lady (Grace) Dudley and Robert Silvers, Kenneth Jay Lane, Kosei Hara and several other nears and dears joined man of property William Hardy Smith for an intimate little supper at W.H. Smith’s gorgeous apartment, which is definitely not in the meatpacking district.
Also, Lord Hindlip, the chairman of Christie’s, gave a smart little dinner in John’s honor at Christie’s with Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Lucy Mitchell-Iness, Pat Buckley, Lady (Grace) Dudley, Robert Silvers, Shelly Wanger and David Mortimer, Johnny Galliher, Kate Gubelmann, Reinaldo Herrera, Patty Cisneros, Christopher Burge, George McNeely, etc., etc., etc. Very cozy, and definitely not in the meatpacking district.
Imperial Russia was out in force for the party celebrating the publication of Princess Katia Galitzine’s lovely new book, “St. Petersburg: A Private View,” published by the Vendome Press. The beautiful, newly refurbished Russian Consulate on East 91st Street was so teeming with Russian — and other — aristos you would have thought the Emperor himself was having a soiree. The Galitzines are one of Russia’s grandest and most historic families, and the half-English Katia, a sculptor in her 20s who looks and talks as though she just stepped out of the pages of “War and Peace,” spends half her life in the Imperial City on the banks of the Neva, where she knows everybody really — artists, writers, pols, even nightclub owners. Her book, providing a unique history of St. Petersburg from the time of Peter the Great to the present, lavishly illustrated with never-before-seen sumptuous interiors and filled with dramatic historical anecdotes and personal remembrances, takes you into such fascinating places and ancestral demesnes as the Galitzine family palace, where Katia has founded a library filled with books once banned by the nasty Communists. Atta girl!
Leading the pack at the consulate were, naturally, the Princes Alexander and Nikita Romanoff, because there is nothing quite like a Romanoff. Then there were Archduke Geza von Habsburg (he’s the president of the American Friends of the Hermitage); Prince Michel of Yugoslavia; Princess Marina Volkonsky and her American tycoon husband, Francesco Galesi; Princess Lee Radziwill (now Mrs. Herb Ross); Lord Rufus Albemarle; Judy Peabody; Sylvia de Cuevas; Doda Voridis; Jamee and Peter Gregory, and like that. Vodka flowed, and the only thing missing was a sing-along of that old anthem, “God Save the Czar.”
Mrs. Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, the society and style icon who is known far and wide as C.Z., slipped into a vintage burnt-orange Oscar de la Renta sheath, set the fireplaces and candles aglow at Templeton, her far-flung Old Westbury estate, and generally got the place ready for a black-tie birthday dinner for her luscious blond daughter, Cornelia, who herself slipped into a knockout gunmetal satin number beaded in silver designed by Badgley and Mischka, who were seated on either side of her at one of the four tables in Templeton’s main dining room. Do you get the picture?
You all remember Cornelia, the eternal debutante of blue-blooded lineage whose godparents were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor? Of course you do. She was one of the most highly publicized society buds since the old Jackie Bouvier days. Very glam-glam. Some of her dear friends, bearing gifts, gathered to help her blow out the candles and wish her well, including her cousin Cynthia Phipps, Tommy Bancroft, Carolina Herrera, Andre Leon Talley, Nancy Holmes, Boaz Mazor, Paul Beck (he is Donatella Versace’s husband), and Cornelia’s equestrian beau, Tim Grubb, the Olympic medalist. Some bunch.
Dr. Scott Wells, Cornelia’s childhood friend, gave the first of many amusing toasts, but it was C.Z., a famous horsewoman, who got the laughs, recounting many a hair-raising story about her independent daughter. Cornelia returned the favor by lifting the 17th-century vermeille fox-shaped goblet mummy had just given her and relating how C.Z. responded when confronted by Foxcroft’s headmistress regarding Cornelia’s leaving school early every Friday to go fox-hunting with mummy — “She’ll learn more out on the hunting field than she would in a classroom,” C.Z. said firmly. Guess who won.