Byline: Aileen Mehle
Princess Michael of Kent, ever since her very first lecture at New York’s French Institute in 1990, has been a succes fou on the podium, and, best of all, she gets asked back. Last year, the statuesque blonde princess, whose husband is Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin, gave her premiere performance at the Metropolitan Museum and was a sold-out hit. So now they’ve asked her to do her royal thing again and she will lecture twice on March 7 and 10, the subjects being, respectively, “The Revenge of Catherine de Medicis” and “Henri IV, King of France and Navarre.”
As for Catherine de Medicis, Princess Michael will tell her audience that this queen of Henri II “had good reason for revenge. Plain and despised all her married life, she was to live in the shadow of the glorious Diane de Poitiers, the king’s mistress. But after the king’s death, power came to Catherine, and throughout the reigns of her three sons, she proved the truth of her private motto: Hate and Wait.”
Catherine may have been a black widow spider, but she knew how to deal with power. Besides, “Hate and Wait” has a certain intriguing ring to it, doesn’t it? And intrigue was the Medicis’ first, last and middle name.
Entertaining for Princess Michael while she’s in New York are Lee Thaw, Khalil Rizk and Barbara de Portago. You will also find them at the Colony Club on March 14 where the princess lectures to benefit “Save Venice.”
That decorative couple, Hilary and Galen Weston, are preparing for the opening of their new Beach Club at Windsor, the Florida resort they own, a polo-players’ paradise, among other fabulous features. (The Prince of Wales plays there a lot, if that appeals to you). Galen Weston is a Canadian multimillionaire with wide interests, but Windsor is his beloved baby.
Now that Patrick Stewart has finished the ballroom dance drama, “Let It Be Me,” he’s intrigued with the idea of playing a role in Eleanor Bergstein’s stage version of her movie hit, “Dirty Dancing,” when it opens in London. Stewart, who loved whirling about with Leslie Caron in “Let It Be Me,” is dying to show off his new-found dancing prowess in the West End. “But I’m sure it won’t keep Patrick Swayze awake nights,” says Stewart, speaking of the dancing darling star of the “Dirty Dancing” movie. He’s so modest — and he’s so right.”
Julia Phillips, who trashed Hollywood and practically half its denizens in her scorching memoir, “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again,” is, naturally, following up with another walloper, “Driving Under the Affluence.” Everybody is either ducking or heading for the rain-soaked hills. The only time anyone says anything nice about anyone out there is when they’re trying to get them in bed or in a blockbuster.
Nancy Reagan, all done up in one of those smart little Galanos suits that are so Galanos and so Nancy, was the guest of honor at Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera’s chic little lunch at Mortimer’s where everyone just laughed and laughed. Chessy Rayner was there in a big fur hat, so were Ahmet Ertegun, Antoinette Guerrini-Maraldi, Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Glenn Bernbaum of the Mortimer’s Bernbaums, Camilla and Earl McGrath, Pat Buckley in a black and white sling (her broken collar bone is mending, thank you) to match her black and white pinstripe suit, Gil Shiva, Blaine Trump in a pink suit with a pleated skirt by Marc Jacobs, Arthur Schlesinger, Khalil Rizk (do you get the feeling he’s everywhere?), Harry Benson, Bob Colacello, Marina Palma, Oscar Molinari and last but not least the Herreras’ striking young daughter, also called Carolina. Looks run in the family.
Christie’s, the famed auction house, is still on a high after the Rudolf Nureyev sale’s astronomical prices (they even sold his mink-trimmed satin jock strap), so the mood was jolly at Sue Railey’s little dinner the other evening in her multi-mirrored apartment, ceiling and all. Sue, Christie’s international representative, entertained for such as Italian Princess Donatella Colonna, Ambassador Aland Sullivan of Canada, the William vanden Heuvels, Eileen Finletter, Russ Hemenway, the Arthur Schlesingers, the William McDonoughs, Christopher Burge, the main man at Christie’s, Jacques d’Amboise, Jamie Figg, Khalil Rizk, Countess Romanones, Kenneth Jay Lane, Ed Gallagher, Will Iselinane, Kay Meehan, Deeda Blair, Lil and Stefane Groueff, Dick Oldenburg, Alex Gregory, Jill Spaulding, Heidi Kucker, etc. If you’re into culture, you’re into all of them, so to speak.
Bobby Short, the Carlyle Hotel’s famous singer/pianist, is the epitome of a great cabaret entertainer, so it’s no wonder New York City has declared him a Living Landmark. He’s been keeping crowds happy for years, playing the piano and singing since he was in rompers. (Some say diapers). Whatever, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel gave a dinner for Bobby at their Park Avenue apartment the other night, and everywhere you looked there was a hard-core fan. Carl and Barbaralee in Anouska Hempel’s black silk tunic and trousers received such as Ahmet Ertegun, Brooke Hayward and Peter Duchin (Peter has known Bobby since their salad days at Carnegie Hall’s apartments), Karen and Richard LeFrak, Schuyler Chapin, Paula and Leon Root, Nina Rosenwald, Glenn Bernbaum, Sisi Cahan, Peg Breen, Andrall Pearson, Johnny Galliher, Gene Hovis, Christina Wyeth, who all sat down to a hot meal in the dining room where Louise Nevelson sculptures and Dale Chihuly glass masterpieces prevailed. For dessert, there were perfect replicas of tiny grand pianos modeled in chocolate, and everyone went home with a T-shirt printed with Bobby’s photo, aged 12, seated at the piano in white tails. Even then he was a dandy. Living Landmark indeed.
The place to be next weekend is Palm Beach where Judy Taubman’s upcoming party for her tycoon husband Al’s 70th birthday has been the talk of the town for weeks. Everyone will be entertaining for the out-of-town guests — Emilia and Pepe Fanjul at dinner, Chan Mashek at lunch, Pauline and Dixon Boardman at barbecue, like that. Guests of the Taubmans are coming from all over Europe and the U.S. You’re only 70 once. And you’re only big A. Alfred Taubman once.
Kenneth Jay Lane will be showing his “fantasie jewelry collection” at Saks Fifth Avenue with Jane Dudley playing hostess at a cocktail reception. This all happens the night before the Taubman fete and will benefit the J.F.K. Medical Center Foundation Ball Committee.
The Russian Symphony Orchestra will also be playing in Palm Beach at the Kravis Center on Feb. 1, but more about that next week.