Byline: Aileen Mehle

Princess Diana and her close chum Catherine Soames are really roughing it on the Caribbean isle of St. Bart’s. They may be staying at the fine villa owned by Di’s photographer pal Patrick Demarchelier but the word is they’re actually cooking their own meals and living the simple life. Anything to keep away from England as long and as often as possible, where the simple life has gone with the wind, and scandals and troubles “come not singlefold but in legions.” As one of Diana’s countrymen so pithily remarked several centuries ago.

Love that Marylou Whitney, always up to something. Not a bit bashful when it comes to adventure, the merry widow of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Sonny) Whitney (who so kindly left her $100 million) has cruised on an aircraft carrier, dived to the depths in a submarine and has recently taken up the nippy but thrilling sport of ice fishing in Alaska. Now she’s at it again.
Marylou has fled her Kentucky horse farm and gone to the dogs in the frozen north to mush with the best of them in the Last Great Race on Earth, the Iditarod. That’s the Sled Dog Race that, beginning this weekend, covers over 1,049 miles of the roughest terrain in Alaska from Anchorage to Nome. Marylou adores this winter wonderland. Maybe it’s because she spent her honeymoon with Sonny here in 1958, dog sledding in Manitoba. Last year, while visiting Chugiak, a training ground for mushers, Marylou was offered the reins by musher Larry Williams who taught her how to drive a sled, whereupon she decided right on the spot to sponsor Larry in the 1995 race. And the Whitney racing empire has been expanded by 16 sled dogs.
The lucky dogs will be very well shod as Marylou has ordered 3,000 pairs of booties, required to protect the dogs’ footpads, in a pretty shade of Eton blue, the Whitney racing color that has won more than one Kentucky Derby and other races too numerous to go into here. If the Alaskan natives don’t know about Eton blue now, they will, they will.
As Marylou has a vested interest, she’ll be following every snowy step of the race beginning with the starting gun and visiting various check points along the way. At the finish line — let me guess — Marylou will be dressed in Eton blue as she cheers on her musher, also dressed in Eton blue with the Whitney name emblazoned on his back and the 16 doggies whose harnesses are — altogether now — Eton blue!
Although Marylou will be traveling in a single engine plane, surveying the excitement over the three-week race period, she definitely plans to do some mushing herself. Tell me you’re surprised.

Hasn’t Leslie Caron (“Let It Be Me”) said just that to Robert Wolders, who was married to Merle Oberon and after that was the loving companion of Audrey Hepburn? Those who know them are asking — will this romance be as hot in September, when Leslie’s film opens, as it was in December?

Despite the end of their love affair and the financial settlement, Al Pacino and Lyndall Hobbs have not cut off all communication between them. Al even came to a party Lyndall gave recently. Apparently Lyndall persuaded Al that after their agreement it wasn’t fair that she was now a nobody in Hollywood circles, and Al saw her point. So he made her a somebody again, if just for the night.

Khalil Rizk of The Chinese Porcelain Company Rizks, a New York host with the most of everything, loves to entertain and does it with ease and wit. His house doesn’t hurt either, a beautiful triplex with a curving marble staircase and an elevator, just in case. (Like just in case you’re all partied out and a stairway looks like the Matterhorn). Khalil’s latest dinner was in honor of Carroll Petrie, who arrived all in white, chic as you please, practically the only one at the party not dressed all in black, if you don’t count Nancy Dickerson Whitehead’s short red skirt.
Deeda Blair, the D.C. fashion plate, came from Washington, and among the locals were such as Judy and Alfred Taubman, Ralph and Ala Isham, Cecile and Ezra Zilkha, Pat Patterson, Barbara Portago, Teresa Carcano of the Argentina Carcanos. Casey and Abe Ribicoff, Jamee and Peter Gregory, Eben Pyne, Ashton Hawkins and, last but not least, Maurice Tempelsman, possibly the most utterly civilized and charming man in the land.

Naturally you are aware, because you read it here, that John Kluge, the multi-billionaire, plunked down a mere $3 million plus for a Palm Beach villa. Now the pulsating question is who gets to decorate this newest of the multimedia guru’s domiciles on El Brillo Way. Here’s the scoop making the rounds in PB: One of the decorators with whom John has had repeated interviews is Jennifer Garrigues, who owns a little antiques boote and who has decorated scores of the townhouses and condominiums down at the Palm Beach Polo Club.
Before her foray into interior design, Jenny was a fashion model here and abroad. During that period, the London-born brunette met and married stockbroker William Garrigues of the Hobe Sound Garrigues. Her interiors are said to be eclectic — a word she deplores — combining style and color. Of course, John Kluge’s Virginia estate, which he occupied with his former wife, Patricia, is one of the country’s most extravagantly beautiful. Not that the PB place and the Charlottesville spread can be compared, but nonetheless those who know Kluge well say Miss Jenny has her work cut out for her.

The article on Pamela Harriman in February’s American Spectator is enough to curl your hair. (Not exactly yours — but hers, into tiny little corkscrews). Pamela, our ambassador to France, has had her share of bad publicity since her late husband Averell Harriman’s progeny have been suing her for squandering his estate and their birthright, but the American Spectator story leaves her shredded. There are those who say Pam is selling three Impressionist paintings Averell left her at Christie’s in the spring because she is down to her last $3 million. The American Spectator says she is one court appearance away from bankruptcy. How the mighty have fallen.