Byline: Aileen Mehle

The honorary committee for the Metropolitan Museum’s huge Costume Institute Benefit Monday night includes such of our famous First Ladies as Laura Bush, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Such a committee is, of course, fitting, because the evening celebrates that most dazzling of First Ladies with the opening of its exhibition “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years,” a collection of Jackie’s personal clothes and accessories selected from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, a wardrobe that made her an international fashion icon during her days on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Among the First Ladies expected to attend the exhibition are Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. It’s rumored from the White House that there could be a teensy-weensy bit of tension, what with the current and former First Ladies being under the same roof at the same time. Please. The museum’s a big place, and the Mesdames Bush and Clinton are all grown up.
Caroline Kennedy and her husband, Edwin Schlossberg, are the honorary chairs of the evening, and also on hand to recall Camelot will be Jackie’s sister, Lee Radziwill, Ethel Kennedy, Ted and Victoria Kennedy, Pat Lawford Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith. That should do it.
Almost 25 years ago, Cher, wearing a see-through dress by Bob Mackie, was the first of the Hollywood stars to sweep up the museum’s grand staircase at a Costume Institute gala. She startled, to say the least, what was then a very social and rather snobbish group. Since Cher broke the sound barrier, movie stars arrive regularly, undressed or overdressed, and no one even raises a so-what eyebrow. Unless you count that New York grande dame who several exhibits ago, hearing Madonna would be there, said “In that case, I won’t.” And she wasn’t.
So among the showfolk expected this year are Renee Zellweger, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kennedy niece Maria Shriver with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christy Turlington and Ed Burns, Ed Norton and, among the civilians, the glamorous chairs of the evening — Anna Wintour, Carolina Herrera and Annette and Oscar de la Renta.

The lovely Lily Safra, the charmer who happens to be one of the richest women in the world, is in town from London, and among the smart set arriving at Swifty’s for Robert Higdon’s little dinner welcoming her back to New York were, as Lily put it, “some of my closest and dearest friends.” Robert Higdon is the Prince of Wales’s man in Washington, but you knew that. Didn’t you?
The closest and dearest who toasted Lily warmly are all pretty special: the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney, the former Canadian prime minister, and his gorgeous wife, Mila; Diane Sawyer, the blonde and beautiful queen of TV; Mrs. William McCormick (Deeda) Blair, more best-dressed than ever; Mrs. Javier Perez (Marcela) de Cuellar, just in from Peru where her husband, the former secretary general of the United Nations, is now Peru’s prime minister; a very happy Maurice Tempelsman; the cosmetics tycoon and tycooness Leonard and Evelyn Lauder; Linda Wachner (and long may she wave); Blaine and Robert Trump of the Trump Trumps; Astrid and Kip Forbes of the Forbes Forbeses; Carroll Petrie in her shimmering pearls (and I mean SHIMMERING and I mean PEARLS); Joan Rivers, dispensing samples of her new perfume called Now and Forever; Stanley Tucker, the big man at Burberry; Alexis Gregory, the eminent collector and author; Bob Colacello, in the midst of writing the definitive book on Nancy and Ronald Reagan; George McNeely of the Christie’s McNeelys, and, in New York from London for a visit, Tom Parker Bowles, the fun-loving son of the Mrs. Parker Bowles. You will be thrilled to hear that he has inherited her wit. Princess Firyal of Jordan and the financier Lionel Pincus popped in for coffee, and some of the merriest merrymakers didn’t leave until the stroke of midnight when their coaches turned into bigger coaches…

It looks like the popster dreamboat, 29-year-old Ricky Martin, will brandish his sword in a whole new way in London’s West End next year. As you may have heard, talks are in the final stages for him to star in an original musical based on the legend of Zorro. The producers got the idea after Antonio Banderas’s 1998 movie, “The Mask of Zorro” with Catherine Zeta-Jones became a runaway hit. Antonio, who did a credible job warbling in “Evita,” was their first choice, but, alas, he said, no way, Jose — or something equally cute.

Just because Michael Douglas had a year with two hit movies, married and had a baby, doesn’t mean he’s not ready for more action this year. His new production company, Further Films, is making its first movie, a dark comedy called “One Night at McCools,” and Michael’s in it along with Matt Dillon and Liv Tyler. Michael says he himself is looking for films he can star in because there’s such a shortage of good material. If this year is anything like last year, does he really have anything to worry about? How you say — no way, Jose.