Byline: Aileen Mehle

Have you heard that the Prince of Wales has solved the dilemma as to just where Prince William will spend his 18th birthday this summer? The handsome heir to the throne wanted to celebrate at a trendy London disco, but his father felt a party at his country house Highgrove would be more like it. So with William and younger brother Prince Harry supplying their input, daddy dear has built a disco off the wine cellar at Highgrove, averting a tempest in a teapot. The disco’s sound system is said to be so boom-boom that William’s granny — Queen Elizabeth to you — will be able to hear the beat clear back at Buckingham Palace. In case she doesn’t make it to the party, that is.

People are still talking about the glittering — and extremely lucrative — Venetian Heritage party on the Roof of the St. Regis. Who doesn’t know by now that the reason for this elegant soiree is to raise money to help preserve and protect the legendary, if sometimes crumbling, beauties of La Serenissima for right now and for future generations to marvel over?
Venice lovers, more than 300 of them, swept into the St. Regis for a pre-dinner concert starring the brilliant and handsome baritone Thomas Hampson and the lovely triller, Frederica von Stade, who had just flown in from Hawaii earlier that evening, and in the finest of showbiz tradition, showed up to sing Cole Porter melodies along with Hampson. Such a darling duet. Opera stars don’t have to be good looking, but, my God, it helps. Larry Lovett, the chairman of Venetian Heritage, had already announced to the guests that Flicka (as her chums lovingly call von Stade) wouldn’t be able to make it when in she glided. What a sport!
After all that, everyone made his way to the Roof, where the tables were a sea of yellow daffodils, and dinner ended with a dessert of chocolate gondolas complete with tiny gondoliers manning poles. So Venetian. They didn’t last long. They were eaten up so fast you would have thought Venice was sinking into the sea, and this was the last supper before glub-glub-glub.
Everyone you ever heard of was at the frolic dressed to the tens and above — Khalil Rizk, the president of Venetian Heritage; Dodie Rosekrans of the San Francisco Rosekranses in silver gauze; Amalita Lacroze de Fortabat, the Argentine tycooness; Prince Pierre d’Arenberg, the honorary chairman of the evening (his glorious young wife, Silvia, was unable to come — pregnant, you know, with their second child); Princess Firyal of Jordan with investment banker Lionel Pincus; Lee Thaw, who gave a dinner at her luxe Park Avenue maisonette for Prince Pierre the night before; Brooke Hayward and Peter Duchin; Pia Getty; the Marchese and Marchesa Alberto Berlingieri of the Venice Berlingieris; Wendy Vanderbilt-Lehman; Rena and Sami Sindi; Deeda and Bill Blair of the Washington social and philanthropic swim; Alexis Gregory and Jamee and Peter Gregory; Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece; Lynn Nesbit, the attractive and prodigiously successful literary agent; the Italian Ambassador to the United Nations, Sergio Vento, and Mrs. Vento; Nicky and Jackie Drexel; and Nan Kempner in white chiffon.
Then there were Evelyn and Leonard Lauder; Joy Henderiks; Prince and Princess Alexander Romanoff; Anne Bass; Anne Cox Chambers with Bill Banks; the newly engaged Mai Hallingby and Ridgely Harrison; Johnny Galliher; the eternally beautiful Aimee de Heeren; the always-beautiful Countess (Aline) de Romanones; Larry Lovett’s sister-in-law Betsy Lovett; Catie and Donald Marron; Isabella Borromeo; Inmaculada de Hapsburgo; Herbert Ross (without his estranged wife, Lee Radziwill, naturally), Muffie and Donald Miller; Patricia Patterson; Barbara Bancroft; Pete Hathaway; Judy Taubman; Pierre Durand; Marit Gruson; Kenneth Jay Lane; Mary McFadden; Gale Hayman Haseltine and Dr. William Haseltine; Kathy and Bill Rayner; Gaetana Enders; Gil Shiva; Iside Rizk; Boaz Mazor; Adrienne and Gianluigi Vittadini; Michael Bloomberg with Mary Jane Salk; Joan Rivers with Orin Lehman; pretty Bettina Zilkha; Daisy and Paul Soros; the two Yugoslavian Princes, Michel and Dimitri; Thorunn Wathne, and hundreds more just like them. It was such a happy grupetto — except maybe those poor little gobbled gondoliers, chocolate and expendable.

April 1 will be a big night in San Franciso, primarily because those adorable newlyweds, Vanessa and Bill Getty, are hosting a gala wine tasting and auction at the St. Francis Hotel with the swell crowd invited. Whatever money they raise will benefit the Headlands Foundation’s and the Russian Arts Foundation’s programs to help children. The honorary chairmen of the fete are Bill’s daddy, Gordon Getty, and Peter T. Paul, and the auction chairman is John Traina. Dear John has been frightfully busy acquiring wonderful items for the sale. He snagged a black silk Jean Louis Scherrer evening gown from Sophia Loren and a black fox hat worn by Marilyn Monroe. The Russian National Orchestra, speaking of the Russian Arts Foundation, is one of Sophia’s favorite causes, so she was more or less thrilled to part with her dress. Also on the block will be a bracelet from Bulgari and earrings from Angela Cummings. Among those waving their paddles will be Denise Hale, Gina Gallo of the Gallo wine family, John Traina’s sons, Todd, the movie producer, and Trevor, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and others too sort of fabulous to mention.

Katie Couric’s crusade to raise cancer awareness since the death of her husband, Jay Monahan, in 1998 from colon cancer is succeeding thanks to many who care. On March 29, at a luncheon at the Rainbow Room given by Hunter Tylo (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), L’eggs, the hosiery company, will present Katie with a $50,000 check to support the cancer research alliance she founded last year. Blessings on the company for giving this worthy charity a leg up.

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