Byline: Aileen Mehle
The Prince of Wales has marked June 18 and 19 on his calendar. On those dates, he will be entertaining at Kensington Palace in London proper and at his country estate, Highgrove House, two hours by motor from London. Both gatherings are exclusive, with a maximum of 60 guests at each — with an emphasis on the most generous donors to his Prince of Wales Foundation. All over the world it was, is and will ever be thus. Money, money, money makes the world go round — in dollars, pounds, yen, francs and whatever tender is legal at the moment. And if you give to a good cause, you not only deserve a good star but a good seat, which, in this case, means as near as possible to the royal host.
The Kensington Palace do is a dinner with the Prince of Wales in black tie — and everyone else had better be. There will be drinks with Prince Charles in the Kings Drawing Room, and all present will sit at table at 8:45. The next day it’s off to Highgrove House for lunch, drinks and a tour of the magnificent gardens, of which the Prince is very proud. Of course you know he is a keen gardener himself, and he has the reputation of having not one but two green thumbs. Later that evening, Viscount and Viscountess Linley (FYI, he is Prince Charles’s cousin) will give a cocktail reception for all hands at the David Linley gallery on the Pimlico Road where, if you want to pick up one of Lord Linley’s beautifully designed cabinets, desks, tables, et al., well, that’s all right too.
Astrid and Kip Forbes of the American publishing dynasty (pronounced din-esty if you want to be terribly British) will be in London for the festivities and will themselves give a dinner at the Forbes’s Old Battersea House the night before the Kensington Palace dinner (pronounced din-ner). You all remember Old Battersea House. A wreck and a ruin when Kip’s father, the late publishing titan and collector Malcolm Forbes, bought it from the London fathers for a peppercorn. He, and especially Kip, restored it to its full fine all-Victorian flavor. But you knew that…
Prince Charles also agreed to be a patron of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition — actually he agreed in 1990 when it was inaugurated. The purpose of the competition is to select — by jury — the most brilliant from a group of young European conductors, and this year’s winner was Paul Mann who has already had a rather dazzling career. He was judged merely sensational conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in the overture to Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” and the audience of 2,000 were not shy in letting him know it. Prince Charles wasn’t in the house but sent a charming letter offering his heartfelt congratulations.
You all remember Donatella Flick, the pretty divorced wife of Muck Flick, the international bon vivant whose German family made their many millions manufacturing Mercedes-Benzes. Her divorce was said to have caused her pain, but you couldn’t tell it from her appearance on stage where she paid homage to the memory of the late Sir Georg Solti, the remarkable conductor who was the founding inspiration of the Competition. Afterward, Donatella gave a splendid dinner for 300 in the Garden Room of London’s Barbican where her strict, beautifully cut black suit with white lace manchettes designed by Thierry Mugler was much admired by the guests, many of whom judge a book by its cover, the sweeties.
Actually, it was a smartly dressed group, with the late Princess of Wales’s good friend Lady Palumbo looking striking in a black Bill Blass suit with a little white blouse peeking out from under. Then there were Lady Weidenfeld, wife of the British publisher, in a blue Ungaro with a matching cashmere shawl and blue pearls; the personable Lady Solti, who — as she recently remarked she was fed up with wearing black — turned up in a navy blue Valentino suit and a new hairdo. She was the belle of the ball. Still she said she missed Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which her famous husband conducted for so many years.
The Countess of Chichester wore a stunning blue chiffon dress by Raffaella Curiel with an antique brooch, so fashionable in Europe just now. Also there, and new on the London scene, were Caroline and Paul McCarthy, an attractive young couple from Philadelphia. He designs worldwide Web systems for multi-billion and multi-national companies, and she, a Wharton Business School graduate, is a financial consultant. She wore one of the very best little black dresses of the evening, designed by Carolina Herrera. Dainty dishes all.
Also lighting up their corners: Lord Birkett, the chairman of the jury; Sir Colin Davis, the London Symphony’s conductor; Maestro Carlo Majer of Turin; Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Catherine of Yugoslavia; Viscount and Viscountess Norwich; Sir Rocco and Lady Forte; Beau and Jon Bannenbert, the luxury yacht designer; the Marquess of Bath; the American conductor Benjamin Zander, and Marc Bohan, the former fashion designer of the House of Dior.
All Broadway is primping and preening to the nines for Sunday night’s Tony Awards. Rosie O’Donnell, who hosts the show, has her fave designer Dale Richards whomp her up a beautiful tuxedo for the first half of the show. Broadway diva Betty Buckley has chosen an all-beaded sheath by Escada, which also designed her black satin shoes. Swoozie Kurtz has decided to show some leg in a short off-white beaded Valentino, but Marilu Henner is still trying to make up her mind between two Jane Booke creations, one black, one apple green. Christine Lahti’s still deciding too, between an Herve Leger and a Richard Tyler. Angela Lansbury, who always has such style, has chosen a long Josie Natori gown with a dark blue lace jacket. As for Isabelle Stevenson, the president of the American Theatre Wing, she will be dressed in a flowing silk champagne Empire evening dress with a crystal bodice and a train beaded with flowers. Harry Winston is providing the jewels for all this glamour. As we all know from reading the papers and watching TV lately, diamonds are, more and more, a girl’s best friend.
Celine Dion and Babyface will be two of the star entertainers at the star-saturated Carousel of Hope Ball at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Oct. 23. This is the gala that raises millions upon millions for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, the great research facility founded by the dynamic Barbara Davis and her billionaire tycoon husband, Marvin. More of all this anon.