Byline: Aileen Mehle

The place to be tonight in Washington is aboard a yacht. Not just any yacht, but “The Highlander,” the Forbes family’s floating palace where a small dinner dance will be held. The Highlander, docked at The Capitol Yacht Club, will set sail at 7:15 in the evening, cruise the Potomac and return at 10:30. Hosting the soiree will be Steve and Bina Forbes and Kip and Astrid Forbes, and the reason for the celebration will be the 18th birthday of the Steve Forbes’s daughter Catherine and the 19th birthday of the Kip Forbes’s daughter Charlotte. It’s the only way, really.

The latest members of that growing club of concerned British royals, according to London reports, are Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, who are said to be “cross and worried” to discover that their daughter, Princess Ella Windsor, 23rd in line to the throne, has been banished for a week from her exclusive Downe House School. Ella’s sin was smuggling cigarettes into the dormitory. She’s 13 — and counting.

Meanwhile, another British member of the club, the Duchess of York, flew her “Budgie” into F.A.O. Schwarz this week for a personal appearance. “Budgie” is, of course, the cute name the Duchess gives the little helicopter she writes about and hopes will become a cottage industry if properly promoted. Her appearance was a benefit for “Light Up A Life,” started in 1988 by Kathy Buddenhagen for the Pediatric Division of New York Hospital. You might care to know that the Duchess showed her ability at crowd control when she attempted to speak before a crowd of 1,000 that just wouldn’t shut up. There was a definite flash of temper from dear Fergie when she said in steely tone, “I will not continue to speak to people who refuse to listen.” More royal than the real royals, no?

Even a doge or a dogaresssa would have to be a quibbler indeed to find fault with the Save Venice evening at the St. Regis. It began with a concert of a type never before heard in New York called “Concerto in Palazzo: The Age of Vivaldi” and described as “one similar to what Venetian audiences would have expected in the mid-18th century,” performed in palace ballrooms whilst guests walked in and out, sat or stood, drank and chatted softly. If some of the New York chatterers chatted a little more loudly during the music than cortesia would have con-doned, well, this isn’t the mid-18th century anymore either.
After enjoying as much culture as they could stand, the guests wended their way to the St. Regis Roof where it was all just about as good as it gets these benefit nights in Manhattan — flattering lighting, beautiful decorations, excellent food from San Domenico’s chef Theo Schoenegger and Peter Duchin and his orchestra playing at the right decibel level for the exacting crowd which, for some strange reason, prefers to go through life without its eardrums split down the middle.
Lily Auchincloss was the honorary chairman of the evening, Mrs. David (Maria) Murdock, wife of the almost-billionaire, was the chairman, and the Marchesa Barbara Berlingieri (who owns the most beautiful palazzo in Venice) and Prince Pierre d’Arenberg were the European chairmen. The guests? Anne Cox Chambers of the media billions; Anne Bass; Hilary and Joe Califano (who travel to Venice twice yearly); Gaetana and Tom Enders; David Murdock; Doda Voridis; Dolly Goulandris; the Dennis Stanfills; Larry Lovett; Betsy Lovett; Bea and Randolph Guthrie; Deeda Blair; Lee Thaw; Prince and Princess Edouard de Lobkowicz; Patricia Patterson; Princess Ira von und zu Furstenberg, outstanding in red chiffon and red paillettes; Khalil Rizk; Kenneth Jay Lane; Alex Gregory; Pat and Michael York; Nancy and Frank Richardson, and others too 20th-century to mention.

Jimmy Galanos of the designing Galanoses goes on forever, and Alice Mason wore one of his forever dresses — it’s 10 years old — black lace heavily beaded in crystals and pearls, to her party for President Jimmy Carter, given on a night he saw his party go down in flames.
If Democrats all over were stewing and fuming, not so a relaxed J. Carter, who was in fine fettle, big smiles and all. “You look so calm,” said Don Hewitt of the “60 Minutes” Hewitts, gazing at the seemingly placid former president. “That’s because you can’t see what’s going on inside,” said Carter, who smiled even wider when Bill Moyers, who left Alice’s table from time to time during dinner to listen to and report on election results, announced that Ollie North had lost in Virginia. “That’s a big one,” said JC with glee. And just about the only one if you don’t count Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.
Everyone was there — Barbara Walters; Anne Cox Chambers, the staunchest of Democrats; Sale and Woody Johnson; Patty Cisneros; Valerie and Donald Zilkha; Kathy and Billy Rayner; Brooke Hayward Duchin and Peter Duchin; Cornelia and Marty Bregman; Jamee and Peter Gregory; Joe Armstrong; Glenn Bernbaum; Judy Moyers; Gaetana and Tom Enders; Dana and Jamie Hammond; Marilyn Hewitt; David Brown; Gene Hovis; Ashton Hawkins; Robert Denning, etc., etc., etc. — plus Alice Mason’s little family: her daughter Dominique in a black Vicky Tiel, her son-in-law Luke John Yang, her baby grandson Christian and her itty-bitty, teeny-weeny, infinitesimal dog Fluffy, who rules that roost.
When Alice, speaking extemporaneously, introduced Carter, her great friend and admirer, to the crowd, he suggested she was getting smooth enough to go into politics. “When I first came to Alice’s 20 years ago,” he said, “she couldn’t make a speech without notes.” Still and all, Alice, a prestigious realtor, had better keep her day job. For her party, the party’s over until maybe ’96 — and then some.

Steven Spielberg, his actress wife Kate Capshaw and their assorted children had a sunny Jamaican holiday at Round Hill in Montego Bay, much needed after the rigors of wheeling and dealing. They stayed at the house of Robert Zemeckis, which commands a sweeping view of the bay and a not-sweeping-at-all view of the Ralph Lauren house next door. The Spielbergs had no sooner left than Gary Sinise of the “Forest Gump” Sinises arrived to take up residence. Heaven forbid those showbiz sheets should cool off.

Betty Sherrill, president of the illustrious decorating firm of McMillen Inc. will be hosting a big party, “Through The Looking Glass,” to celebrate McMillen’s 70th anniversary on Nov. 16. The gala will take place at the galleries of the company, which was founded in 1924 by Eleanor McMillen Brown and has long been a synonym for elegance and high style, designing interiors for the White House, Blair House, U.S. presidents and other heads of state, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Fords. Visual evidence of the firm’s enduring cachet will be on display at the party, expected to be attended by about 1,000 guests, where a photographic collage of famous clients through the decades will be on display. Who’ll be at the celebration? Just every big shot for miles around and a few who would like to be.

That smart little group at the Blair House festivities, the White House and the State Department dinner over the weekend included the lovely people who brought (and bring) you Worth Magazine; the founder, Randy Jones; the associate publisher, Richard Perkins; the editor-at-large, Nancy Holmes (in black chiffon with ropes of pearls); Mrs. Randy (Connie) Jones in black silk and cut velvet, and their friend John Loring. When Connie Jones lost the jeweled button from the cuff of her jacket, Mr. Loring said no problem and fastened her sleeve together with a big double knot. He’s not the artistic director of Tiffany’s for nothing, you know.

(Next week read all about the opening of The Great Moscow Circus at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15. The crème de la crème and the caviar de la caviar will be there and “God’s Love We Deliver” will benefit.)

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