Byline: Aileen Mehle

Flash! Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited the children of those lost on Sept. 11 to visit Russia as his guests in the new year. The trips are being organized by the Frank Foundation Child Assistance International, which has arranged the adoption of more than 6,000 Russian orphans into caring American families over the past 10 years. Apparently, the fine work the foundation has done has not been lost on Russia. Did President Putin make this offer to President Bush during their friendly little chats when Putin visited the Presidential ranch in Crawford, Tex.? You will be reading that these trips will take place all through 2002.
To help fund the foundation’s mission to ease the suffering of children all over the world, there will be a silent auction of luxury items on Tuesday at Bentley Manhattan, where designer Helen Yarmak, whose clients include a flock of movie stars as well as Luciano Pavarotti — that must be a challenge — will show her new collection of sables, chinchillas and minks alongside the latest Rolls-Royces. Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia will be there along with Kimberly Rockefeller, Muffie Potter Aston and, get this, Alla Kliouka, who plays Svetlana on “The Sopranos.” There will be vodka for all and mounds of Petrossian Paris’s finest beluga, plus a whole gang of the Ford Agency’s beautiful models strutting the catwalk in Yarmak furs. Everyone will take home a little Snegurochka. That’s a Russian doll to you. Not a Ford model.

Should you be planning a trip to Merry Old England during the Merry Old Holidays, you might want to nip over to beautiful Bath to see the Museum of Costume’s brand-new exhibition of the most glamorous evening gowns ever worn by Queen Elizabeth. Even the marvelous renegade John Galliano, whose dress sense could be called a wee bit edgy, has admired the Queen’s taste, calling it “sublime and fantastic with a style all her own.” (This was his quote, you’ll recall, after she presented him with a CBE). There will be creations shown by such British greats as Sir Norman Hartnell and the one-and-only adorable Sir Hardy Amies, whose bawdy sense of humor is as famous as his designs. Both knights got their knighthoods by making the Queen look good. Her Golden Jubilee begins next year, so wouldn’t it be great if the collection’s next stop is the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute? Long live the Queen.

The magnificent Morgan Library was awash with maybe most of the beautiful people you hear about, read about and perhaps even know! They were there for the big, tony party given for Duane Hampton to celebrate the publication of her quintessentially charming book — already in its second printing — about her late husband, the famous international interior decorator Mark Hampton. It’s called “Mark Hampton: The Art of Friendship.” And if anyone knew the art of being a friend it was Mark, one of the reasons he was admired and appreciated by his friends, who numbered in the hundreds.
The book is a collection of the small, perfect watercolors Mark painted, wonderfully whimsical and amusing, imaginative, highly personal cards he sent to his friends remembering — and capturing in his fabulous style — their birthdays, anniversaries, their parties, their houses and rooms, their clothes, their personalities. If Mark sent you a card, you treasured it and framed it and counted yourself lucky. They were little right-on-the-button jewels, so very you, so very him.
The hosts of the party were such close friends of all the Hamptons (Mark, Duane and their daughters, Kate and Alexa), as Bill Blass, Susan Burden, Wendy and Henry Breck, Sean Driscoll, Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Louise and Henry Grunwald, Jamie Niven, Leola and Robby Macdonald, Joan and Maurice Tobin, Cynthia and Nathan Saint-Amand and Pattie Sullivan. And everywhere you looked there were Brooke Astor, Gail and Parker Gilbert, Rosamond Bernier and John Russell, Liz and Damon Mezzacappa, Johnny Galliher, Patricia Patterson, Nina Griscom, Michael Arlen, Marilyn Hewitt, Carolyne Roehm and Ed Rollins, Mario Buatta, Joan Stanton, Frankie Fitzgerald, the literary agent Lynn Nesbit in chic black trimmed in jet by Oscar de la Renta, Oscar de la Renta himself with Annette, Paula Perlini, Kenneth Jay Lane, Monte Hackett, Henry Kohler and Lyn Revson, the star of one of Mark’s most fetching watercolors, wearing a shimmering pink mermaid Norell with her hair flowing to her waist.
Then there were Barbara and Bobby Liberman, Tina McPherson, Jaquelin Robertson, Inge Heckel, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, Chris Meigher, Kit Liberman, Marian McEvoy, Elaine Greene (who edited Duane’s book), Ashton Hawkins, Tom Fallon and more, more, more, including darling daughter Alexa with her husband, Pavlos Hampton-Papageorgiou and darling daughter Kate with her boyfriend, Olek Krupa. Duane wore a winter white top trimmed in lace and a black skirt designed by Bill Blass. Mark Hampton would have loved it. Everyone else did.

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