Byline: Aileen Mehle
When you tell a European woman of fashion that she has been invited to a grand party and would she please wear a long dress, she wouldn’t dream of doing anything else. The request is taken quite seriously, so something long and glamorous is pulled from her closet, or better still, she hustles on down to the nearest haute couturier to be fitted for a new drop-deader, or maybe a killer ballgown. This insures that elegance will prevail and that your pants and minis, even trimmed in sable and dripping sequins, are out-out-out for the evening. And this means you.
Many fashionable American women, especially those who travel in international social circles, can more than hold their own with the Europeans. So it would have made your little hearts beat faster to see how beautifully turned out our female Yankee Doodle dandies were at the great ball at Blenheim Palace celebrating the wedding of Eugenie Livanos of the famous Greek shipping family and Nicholas Clive-Worms, the British banker and investor. Any fool knows you don’t dress down for anything at Blenheim, the magnificent country seat of the Dukes of Marlborough — all that gold and marble — so a pregnant Elle MacPherson, looking, well, rounder, also looked stunning. “This is a love child,” the supermodel informed those near her at her dinner table, looking downward in love child’s direction. Well now, how very nice to know. It can be said that Arky Busson, the good-looking European aristocrat responsible for Elle’s roundness, spends a lot of time beaming.
She lives in London, but American-born blonde beauty Robin Hambro, wife of the British banker Rupert Hambro, turned heads in black chiffon, and Pauline (Mrs. D. Dixon) Boardman of New York and her two beautiful daughters, Serena and Samantha, were much admired. Then there were the ladies in red: Sibilla Clark in backless crimson crepe, and Cecile Zilkha in one-shouldered, draped scarlet chiffon. Maryll Lanvin, also American-born, married to Bernard Lanvin of the French fashion family, wore a gray Chanel with a train, a high neck and a bodice entirely embroidered in crystals. Blonde Serena Balfour, the half-American niece of the present Duke of Marlborough, looked wonderful in black, and all-American Lynn Wyatt of the Texas Wyatts wore a vintage black and red Saint Laurent that made Pierre Berge (he has something to do with Saint Laurent, hasn’t he?) smile from oreille to oreille. Nan Kempner wore an orange and brown Valentino, the exact colors of the huge branches of autumn leaves that towered over the center of every table, and Judy Taubman was silky and satiny in Saint Laurent. American-born Sally Metcalfe, the noted interior designer who lives in London, was another study in chic-erie. As was American-born Libby (Mrs. Basil) Mavroleon of New York, who wore her beautiful long hair draped a la Veronica Lake. But let’s not be catty about the guest dressed like the Statue of Liberty, other than to say that all that was missing was the torch.
Then there were the Greeks — especially Doda Voridis in dark velvet and fur and Caroline (Mrs. Bluey) Mavroleon, all sparkly and crystally. And the Colombians — especially Beatrice (Mrs. Julio Mario) Santo Domingo in navy blue paillettes, whose husband is one of South America’s greatest tycoons. And the Venezuelans — especially Patty (Mrs. Gustavo) Cisneros, whose husband is another of South America’s greatest tycoons. And Rosemarie Kanzler of London, Paris, Greece and Argentina in a magenta Saint Laurent.
In the star-spangled crowd under the star-spangled tent adjoining Blenheim Palace: Countess Leopold von Bismarck; the bride’s brother, Stavos Livanos; Lady (Grace) Dudley; Hillie Pilkington; Karen and Peter John Goulandris; Barbara and Conrad Black; Francois Curiel of Christie’s; Betty and Francois Catroux; the James Sherwoods; handsome British banker John Loudon; Duncan MacLaren; Victoria and Philip Niarchos; Daphne and Spyros Niarchos; Constantine Niarchos; Marina Palma; Georgette Mosbacher; Lady Charles Churchill; Tina Fanjul; Nada and Nemir Kirdar; Mrs. Henry (Kathy) Ford II; Dolly Goulandris; several happy Hapsburgs; Christopher Balfour; Nicky Haslam; Robert Silvers; Donna and Bill Acquavella; Scott Bessant; Tessa and Harry Fane, and more, more, more, including the Thierry Roussels. If Roussel’s name doesn’t ring a bell, he is the father of Athina Roussel by his marriage to the late Christina Onassis. Athina, 12, maybe the richest girl in the world, is George Livanos’s great-niece, and he and Lita have done everything to keep her close to her Greek roots and family, inviting Roussel, who has custody of Athina, and his wife and two other children, to visit them whenever they like. It has been an uphill battle, Sisyphean almost, but the Livanoses are not giving up.
Lita and George Livanos still have two beautiful unmarried daughters left, Marina and Christina. After the glittering ball at Blenheim for Eugenie and the huge gathering of 800 guests at Grosvenor House in London for their first-born, Arietta, one wonders what they’ll do for encores, and where, when their time comes. The Acropolis is nice, but not when it rains.
While all the above was going on in London, in New York Patricia G. Hambrect, the president of Christie’s, gave a little dinner at Christie’s new, very private viewing gallery on East 59th Street to celebrate the publication of New York decorator Chessy Rayner’s new book, “New York Trends and Traditions.” The loft-like gallery space, a little taste of downtown in midtown, is currently exhibiting the magnificent collection of Victor and Sally Ganz, the most important collection of 20th-century art ever to come to auction. It will go on the block at Christie’s the night of Nov. 10. Surrounded by $125 million worth of Picassos, Rauschenbergs, Jasper Johns and Frank Stellas, such worthies gathered around the long banquet table to discuss art and design trends and traditions as Picasso biographer John Richardson, Marilyn and Don Hewitt, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Casey Ribicoff, Mica Ertegun, Pat Buckley, Arnold Scaasi, Parker Ladd, Louise and Henry Grunwald, Johnny Galliher, Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, writer Nick Dunne, Gil Shiva and a couple of dozen others too arty, designing, trendy and traditional to mention.