Byline: Aileen Mehle
Paige Rense, the oracle at Architectural Digest, has written her first novel, a murder mystery set in the milieu she knows so well, entitled aptly, to say the least, “Manor House.” Buy it. You’ll love it. Especially, the handsome hero and beautiful heroine. And you can boo and hiss the villains, the various social climbers and a variety of Santa Barbara mixed nuts. To celebrate the publication of Paige’s page-turner, Alexandra Penney gave a big party at the Lotos Club, and they all turned out, “dressed to kill,” as the invitation suggested. Paige was placed in handcuffs, but only for a minute, and Alexandra Penney packed a rod in a shoulder holster under her jacket. There were ersatz police lines and all sorts of paraphernalia to tickle your average criminal. You would have loved it. In the crowd of mystery-loving, Paige-lovers were such as Gigi and Roone Arledge, John Veronis, Larry Gagosian, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Lynn Sherr, Mary McFadden, Barbara Goldsmith, Anne Slater, Eleanor Lambert, Owen Laster, Kay Meehan, Albert Hadley, who knows a lot about manor houses, Marie Brenner, Nancy Collins, Marilyn Evins, Lucky Roosevelt, Susan and Howard Kaminsky, Brendan Gill, Mario Buatta, the famous photographer Victor Skrebneski, Ann Downey, Paul Goldberger, Alice Mason, Charles Evans, Johnny Galliher, Susan Sheehan, Grace and Chris Meigher, Joe Armstrong, Mica Ertegun and others too architecturally designed to mention.
Break out your social calendars, the best is yet to come, hahaha.
Did you know, for instance, that there are wild boars in Palm Beach? Boars, not bores, although there a few of those too. Frank Shields and Ned Monell, keen shots and keen Palm Beachers, spend every weekend shooting boars, wild turkeys and assorted other wild fauna at their new ranch west of PB, an investment.
Meanwhile, in the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden has a new investment too. The Garden is celebrating The Year of the Conservatory, and not a moment too soon. After four years and $25 million in elaborate, inch-by-inch restoration, the Enid Annenberg Haupt Conservatory in all its glistening, fragile beauty will reopen on the first day of May with a ribbon-cutting and a cocktail party in honor of the one and only Mrs. Haupt, whose great love of things beautiful is only surpassed by her philanthropy. Dearest Enid.
Guests at the opening will be the first to explore the Conservatory’s new World EcoTour, walking through changing hemispheres among plants peaking in one of the most heavenly gardens on the planet. It is said that among those planning to attend are Clintons, Patakis, Giulianis, Cullmans, Steeres, Ferrers, Strausses, the Botanical Garden’s president Gregory Long, Shelby White and Leon Levy, all of whom know a hollyhock from a hyacinth or even a hydrangea. Of course!
If you can’t wait till the flowers bloom in May, there’s always Garden Night on April 23 with the great diva Jessye Norman as honorary chairman, a spectacular exhibition and sale of antique garden furniture. Susan Burke, Jesse Araskog, Elizabeth Gerschel, Tina Flaherty and Christopher Meigher are chairmen of the preview party where a worldwide collection of rare and exotic plants will be auctioned. And who among is not dying to bid on the white-blossomed Oriental deciduous tree, Poliothyrsis Sinensis, native to China — or a 1945 Chateau Lafite Rothschild — or perhaps a pair of authenticated Redoute prints? The thing is to bring money.
Channel Thirteen/WNET, the public television station that brings entertainment and culture to us all, is having its annual fund-raising gala on April 17 at the Plaza Hotel, a dinner dance in the Grand Ballroom. Philip Baloun of party-planning fame is covering the dinner tables with burnt apricot cloths and centering them with bowls of peach tulips and apricot, coral and salmon roses. A profusion of blossoming branches will burst out at you from the ballroom’s surroundings, but don’t be frightened. They’re springtime-beautiful and mean no harm.
Steve Rattner of the Wall Street Rattners, the vice chairman of Thirteen’s board, and his wife, Maureen White, are the dinner chairmen, and the honorary committee includes such worthies as Brooke Astor, Mrs. Cyrus Vance, Isaac Stern, Michael Bloomberg, Joan Ganz Cooney, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Liz (Mrs. Felix) Rohatyn, Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Bill Moyers, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Robert MacNeil. Impressed?
Well then, let’s try again. Among the co-chairmen of the evening are Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis and Casey and Abe Ribicoff. Among the vice chairmen are Clarissa and Edgar Bronfman Jr. and David Geffen, the Hollywood big shot. On the dinner committee are such as Wendy Wasserstein, Michael Douglas, Sale and Robert Wood Johnson, Anne Eisenhower Flottl and Wolfgang Flottl, Sumner Redstone, Coco and Arie Kopelman, the beautiful Lita Livanos of New York, Greece, St. Moritz and London, and her zillionaire husband, George — and a veritable plethora of others too numerous to mention.
Prince Albert of all the Monacos, who recently celebrated his birthday, went to the Bal de Rose in Monte Carlo where he danced and danced with Isabella Rossellini. Isabella, you see, was a guest of the Serene Grimaldis, along with her daughter, Electra, and her brother Robertino Rossellini. After all that, Albert flew to New York for the Princess Grace Foundation benefit, which began with cocktails at Sardi’s and went on to a performance of “Jekyll & Hyde, The Musical” at the Plymouth. Tagging along with the prince were at least 200 others, including Lynn Wyatt and Lily Safra, who are great friends of Monaco’s ruling family and spend much time in Monte Carlo, Princess Grace’s sister Lizanne Levine, the French actress Claudine Auger, Ambassador and Mme. Jacques Boisson and well, you get the picture. You can say this about Albert and his two sisters, the Princesses Caroline and Stephanie: No matter what life throws them — and what they throw at life — they have never failed to support the good works that meant so much to their mother, Princess Grace.