Byline: Aileen Mehle

Charity, sweet charity: Investment banker Joan Young got herself in gear and made an offer to powers in the car world to give their first benefit party in history at the New York International Automobile Show. They didn’t dare say no to the offer so they said yes, the sweet things.
Now the show’s exclusive preview night on April 18 will benefit board member Joan’s favorite charity, East Side House Settlement. You see, she’s a terminal car nut and knows a lot of people who are even car-nuttier than she is. So, for the first time ever, all those preview guests will be able to see what’s brand new in the fast lane. Vrooooom! Besides, car companies are donating for the silent auction one- and two-year leases on their top-of-the-line exotic numbers like the Aston Martin Lagonda DB7 Vantage Volante, Jaguar XJ Sedan, Volvo C70 Convertible, Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln LS. It’s a trip.
This all happens over at the Javits Center, and really, lots of the power pack will be there revving up and showing off. The evening, “A Tailgate Party,” will include cocktails, a silent auction, musical entertainment and a tailgate picnic menu. Joan’s co-chairs on the steering committee (hahaha) are Paige Rense of Architectural Digest and Christie’s chairman, Lord Hindlip, which makes a lot of sense when you realize that Christie’s International Motor Cars and Architectural Digest are sponsoring the affair. Expected are such motor lovers as Bill Blass, Nina Griscom and Dr. Dan Baker, Nan and Tommy Kempner, Bobby Short and Fernanda Kellogg and Kirk Henckels.

Mercedes and Sid Bass, lovers of culture and, God knows, rich enough to afford it in all its infinite varieties, are the chairs of the American Academy in Rome’s fund-raising gala on May 18 at Cipriani 42nd Street. This year’s party will be a salute to the great artist Chuck Close, all very festive. Mercedes and Sid were also the chairs of last year’s Academy party at the same place honoring Mark Hampton. It was a succes fou filled with gorgeous flowers and gorgeous friends, artists, architects, composers, scholars and funfunfun people who just like to have funfunfun. Imagine a fund-raiser being funfunfun — but it was. And the Basses, such a dynamic duo, plan to keep it that way.

The animal lover Bo Derek, forever a “10,” will be honored at the ASPCA 200 Bergh Ball April 26 at the Plaza. The ball, named after ASCPA founder Henry Bergh, will also honor New York City’s carriage horses and the Society’s efforts to help them. So Bo will be in good company — and so will the horses.

The Fashion Group of UJA-Federation of New York “is proud to celebrate a great designer,” none other than Vera Wang, who keeps rising like a meteorite in the fashion firmament. Dressing brides beautifully used to be her forte and it still is, but now Vera dresses some of the most famous women on the stage, screen, society, you name it. The black-tie party in her honor is all set for May 10 at the Pierre.

Two legends of the Italian stage and screen, Gina Lollobrigida and the director-producer Franco Zeffirelli, will light up the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf on April 14 when they are honored by Boys’ Towns of Italy at their 55th anniversary Ball of the Year. Also being honored are Boys’ Towns supporters Lawrence Auriana as “Man of the Year” and Rella Fogliano, “Woman of the Year.” The mistress of ceremonies is Maria Bartiromo of your TV screen and mine, known to panters on Wall Street as the “Money Honey,” and the honorary dinner chairs are Pat and Bill Buckley and Florence D’Urso.

Christina Green, the chic and stunning, lithe and lissome daughter of Mrs. William (Judy) Green and the late industrialist William Green, will marry Lloyd Harriman Gerry at the Brick Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue on April 29. There will be a reception following the ceremony at the Altman Building downtown. More anon.

To get back to Paige Rense for a minute, Mrs. William (Buffy) Cafritz — everyone in Washington simply adores her — gave a luncheon at home for Paige, the editor in chief of Architectural Digest, whose glossy sheets provide an exclusive glimpse into the most fabulous houses in this country (the White House, for one, following its much-needed renovation by First Lady Nancy Reagan). Buffy gathered together 18 ladies who love Paige and her pages to welcome her to Washington and its peaking cherry blossoms. Sitting at the tables, awash with white tulips, were Anna Marie Salleo, wife of the Italian ambassador; Maria Ignez Barbosa, wife of the Brazilian ambassador; Helen Philon, wife of the ambassador of Greece; former chief of protocol under President Clinton; Molly Raiser; Polly Kraft; Ann Jordan; Jane Hitchcock Hoagland; Marjorie Billington, whose husband, Jim, is the head of the Library of Congress; Catherine Stevens; Debbie Dingell; Samia Farouki; Holidae Hayes; Shirley Small; Tricia Saul; Grega Daly, and JoAnn Mason. From the talk over lunch, you would never have known it was an election year in this most political of towns. Everything was stocks, stocks, stocks and stock tips, portfolios and collateral. These were not ladies who lunch; these were traders with a hunch.

(Next week, read about Richard Jenrette and his “Spirit of the City” award from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the book party (with caviar!) at the Russian Tea Room for Kip Forbes’s extraordinary book on the Forbes Collection of Faberge objects, and the big “Sweeny Todd” gala benefit for the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall celebrating Stephen Sondheim’s 70th birthday, all very glamorous and London-ish.)