Byline: Aileen Mehle
Royal watchers, royal snoops if you will, are waiting breathlessly to see what happens at the party for family and friends that Queen Elizabeth is giving to mark the 100th birthday of her mother, the Queen Mother, which will be held at Windsor Castle during Royal Ascot in June. Prince William will be 18 then, so it’s a double celebration. The Queen Mother’s regular escort to Ascot is Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, who will be among the guests at Windsor. He used to be married to Camilla. So will Camilla be invited to the fete? What would we all do without this wonderful royal soap opera supreme? How it lights up our days!
Speaking of royals, Prince Michael of Kent, Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin, and his statuesquely beautiful Princess Michael (Marie Christine to her intimates) were the guests of honor at the Carlyle Hotel, where the Versailles Foundation celebrated their royal and high presence with a glamorous dinner in the Trianon Room decorated, practically every square inch, with tons of pink blossoms. As president of the Foundation, the incomparable Florence Van der Kemp herself put in an appearance and her daughter, Barbara de Portago, as vice president, presided over the festivities. You can say this about Barbara, Givenchy’s representative in New York: She knows how to put on a party. Also, she grew up at Versailles, do you see, when mummy lived there with Barbara’s stepfather, Gerald Van der Kemp, then Versailles’ curator.
Princess Michael, dressed for the evening in sapphire blue with a necklace the color of her eyes, is of course a lively, learned lecturer of note, a star at the podium. So she impressed the crowd at the party with a little collection of anecdotal gems concerning the life and times of Louis XIV, the Sun King, without whom there would have been no Versailles. Prince Michael, a true Prince Charming, listened as avidly to his wife as did the rest of the crowd.
One of the famous guests was the Baron Andreas Zadora von Gerlof, sometimes known as the “American Faberge.” Each dinner table was centered with one of his precious works, objects done in carved gemstones, gold, silver and enamel. (At Prince Michael’s table, a quartz peregrine falcon with a gold beak and ruby eyes was the incredible centerpiece.)
The patrons of the evening were Mrs. Arthur Sackler and Mrs. Lynn Wolfson, and here follows a smattering of who else was there: Pilar and Pablo Molyneux, Paula Cussi, Lucile and Guy Peyrelongue, Doda Voridis, Kenneth Jay Lane, Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrel Aston, Rob Wolders, Kathy and Rick Hilton, Janice Levin, Barbara and Donald Tober, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Robert Bradford, Laura McCloy, Johnny Galliher, the Lawrence Herberts and Harriette and Noel Levine.
A tango-crazed crowd danced the night away at the Puck Building while disco diva Gloria Gaynor sang “I Will Survive” — what else? — under a sea of red paillettes illuminated by beautiful candelabra covered in a zillion red roses. The dance floor was mobbed with such dancing dervishes as fashion designer Vera Wang, maybe the best dancer in New York, Gigi Mortimer, Adrienne and Gianluigi Vittadini, Bettina Zilkha, Lee Thaw, Rita and Ian Schrager, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Whitney and James Fairchild, Alexandra Lind, Felicia Taylor, Pamela Gross and James Finkelstein, Jennifer and Larry Creel, newlyweds Gannon and Beau Turner (son of Ted) and the Boardman sisters, Samantha and Serena. All so chic and stunning.
And let us not forget the honorary chairwoman, Marina Rust Connor, and the co-chairs Courtney Arnot, Tory Burch, Laura Hunt, Pilar Crespi and Laura Slatkin, dainty dishes all. You can’t believe everything you hear, but someone said one of these dainty dishes was sipping champagne from her bejeweled Manolo. Do these people know how to have fun or what?
All this gaiety and good deedery (I know that’s not a word but it is now) benefited the Henry Street Settlement and the evening’s honored guests were Beth Rudin DeWoody and Nan Swid, who looked all one could have hoped for in their tango-inspired lace ensembles. Don’t cry for them, Argentina.
The one and only Richard Jenrette, financier and an historic preservationist extraordinary, will receive the Spirit of the City Award at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine at a ceremony on April 27. The honorary chairman of all this is another financier, Julian H. Robertson Jr., who regards Dick Jenrette not only as a great businessman and human being but as a superb protector of historic treasures. As don’t we all. He, along with being a Wall Street legend, writes splendid books, the latest being “Adventures With Old Houses,” a collection of magnificent pictures of the many historic houses, filled with art and antiques he has owned and restored, and descriptions of how he went about it. The Prince of Wales, who knows a thing or two about historic houses, has written the book’s foreword.