Byline: Aileen Mehle
It may not be a royal wedding exactly, but pretty close. On Oct. 11, in the great Chateau de Menetou Salon in Bourges, the bridegroom’s ancestral seat in France, His Serene Highness Prince and Duc Pierre-Frederick d’Arenberg and Mademoiselle Silvia de Castellane will marry in the Cathedral of Bourges. It will be one of the most splendid weddings in decades, not the least because Pierre and Silvia are young, beautiful, rich and blue-blooded.
Actually, the couple is already married, having exchanged vows in a civil ceremony in Philadelphia last week. Pierre, half-American, is an American citizen with maternal family roots in Pennsylvania. But the real celebrations will be in Paris in the days preceding the wedding and at the wedding ceremony itself where nearly 500 guests are expected. In full fig, s’il vous plait, including killer hats on the ladies. The 13th-century Bourges Cathedral is one of the four most beautiful in France — the others being Notre Dame, Chartres and Rheims — and its stained glass windows are a world monument. Presiding at the ceremony will be none other than the Archbishop of Bourges.
Pierre’s mother was the late Peggy Bedford Bancroft d’Arenberg d’Uzes, a beautiful blonde American heiress who died in an automobile accident years ago outside Paris. His father, Prince Charles d’Arenberg, is also deceased. So, in their memory, Pierre, foregoing a wedding ball, is hosting a private reception and concert for the family and close friends at the Chateau of Versailles on Oct. 9. The concert will take place in the Royal Chapel, organized as a wedding gift to the young couple, by the world-renowned cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, who is sending an orchestra from Germany as well as the Arenberg Choir from Belgium. Following the concert, there will be a supper and fireworks display which will be seen from Versailles’ magnificent Hall of Mirrors. All very black tie.
The following day, in memory of their mother, Pierre and his half-sister, Muffie Bancroft, will offer a private mass in Paris for close personal friends attending the wedding, followed by a luncheon at the Ritz Hotel. And the day after that, 500 elegant guests will arise early, don their finest and repair to the Gare d’Austerliz in Paris at 8:45, where a special train will transport them to Bourges, which really shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Or you may take your car and chauffeur and motor there, which really shouldn’t take more than two hours and a half. Or you may go by helicopter or private plane, which shouldn’t take long at all. We won’t even discuss taxis. After the noon wedding and the seated luncheon at Chateau Menetou, you can return to Paris the same way you got to Bourges. Simple, no?
The bride’s wedding dress is said to be a masterpiece designed by Oscar de la Renta of Balmain and fit for a princess, which of course she is. Her four attendants are such pretty things Astrid Kohl, the Countess de Talhouet-Roy, the Countess de Cugnac and Veronica Tube-Busson. Pierre’s groomsmen are Prince Serge of Yugoslavia, Prince Charles-Henri de Lobkowicz, Alexis Corneille and Maestro Rostropovich’s son-in-law Olaf Guerrand-Hermes.
Silvia de Castellane comes from a long line of lovely women. Her maternal grandmother, Beatriz Patino, is the widow of the Bolivian tin king Antenor Patino. Her mother is the Countess Isabella de Rovasenda. Other of her relatives on the wedding announcement include such as Monsieur Killian Hennessy, Madame Killian Hennessy, the Countess de Castilleja and the Count and Countess de Castellane. If you are not impressed there is simply no hope for you.
The Baroness Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, Tita for short, a newcomer in the field of art collecting, and her supportive husband, the baron, Heini for short, were guests of honor at the chic and stunning dinner Veronica and Randloph Hearst of the Hearst Hearsts gave at their beautiful apartment decorated by Renzo Mongiardino that whom there is no whomer. Since Tita is so immersed in art, and since Heini and his forbears accumulated one of the greatest art collections extant, most of the Hearsts’ guests came from the art world, viz to wit, Charles Ryskamp of the Frick, Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder and Agnes Gund of MoMA, Richard Feigen, the Thyssens’ art dealer, Ira Spanierman, another Thyssen art dealer, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, and Ambassador William Luers and Mrs. Luers of the Metropolitan Museum. The blonde billionairess spicing up the dinner was Amalita Lacroze de Fortabat, the great Argentine collector whose paintings include the famous Turner, “Juliet and Her Nurse,” which hangs over the mantel in her drawing room in Buenos Aires. And then there were Pauline and Dixon Boardman, John Whitehead, Amanda Burden and Charlie Rose, Bob Colacello, Catherine Riviere of Dior, Daniel Shapiro, Emilia and Pepe Fanjul, Isabella Rattazzi, Liz and Damon Mezzacappa, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hamm, he being the Thyssens’ lawyer. Veronica Hearst wore Chanel couture and Tita Thyssen wore jewelry.
Never mind that big storm in Newport; the ghastly weather wasn’t enough to keep 200 friends away from Helen Winslow’s big birthday party for her husband, John. The blowout was at the exclusive Bailey’s Beach Club where John Winslow has been president forever and two days. There was music and dancing and a groaning buffet, and Helen Winslow did her famous hula. Barton (Mrs. Walter) Gubelmann, in black and white silk and miles of pearls, jumped out of the birthday cake, wearing her late husband’s top hat. You think they don’t know how to have fun in Newport? Among the guests were former Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell and his wife Nuala, former Rhode Island Governor Bruce Sundland and his wife, Marjorie, Topsy Tailor, Oatsie and Robert Charles, Ruth Buchanan, Betty Blake, Maureen and John Donnell, Noreen and John Drexel, Jackie and Nicky Drexel, Hugh Auchincloss, Nicole and Derek Limbocher, Evie Hall, Jane and Peter Grace, Betty Blake, Sarah and George F. Baker, Ginny and Ned Burke, Taylor Chewning (is that a name or what?) and too many Cushings to mention. They all danced the night away until the storm was over. There will always be a Newport.
Nancy Reagan is in Washington this week accepting awards, so next week read all about that and her big party at Mortimer’s given by Robert Higdon with Washington’s Buffy and Bill Cafritz as surprise guests. Also read about C.Z. Guest who is not going to the d’Arenberg/Castellane nuptials, but is sending her daughter, Cornelia, in her place. There will always be a C.Z.