Byline: Aileen Mehle
While Marylou Whitney and her husband, John Hendrickson, have already settled in at their rustically luxurious Saratoga place — well, it is air-conditioned — others of the elite horsy set are packing up their trusty SUVs and making tracks for the August racing season there. Marylou, ever the Saratoga stirrer-upper, will get things rolling when she and John give an opening-day luncheon at the Carousel Restaurant and then celebrate at the “Singin’ in the Rain” gala at the National Museum of Dance. For those of you who don’t remember — and I know you’re out there somewhere — Marylou and her late husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, founded the museum.
As usual, Marylou will give her annual theme party at Canfield Casino in Congress Park, the town’s biggest social deal, where the guests practically neigh with excitement. This year’s fete will be patterned after Damon Runyon’s “Guys and Dolls” and will honor Sheryl and Barry Schwartz of New York, Saratoga regulars who keep blooded horses in their barns. Just like Sara Brown, the Salvation Army lassie in “Guys and Dolls” who leads a big band down the streets trying to save the souls of sinners, Marylou and her guests, dressed accordingly, will lead a Salvation Army band up to the doors of the Casino while the hundreds of town folk who gather every year to see the swells cavort, cheer from the sidelines. Want to guess who’ll be coming as Sara Brown? Listen, it’s her party! Whatever, she won’t be done up like she was at Buckingham Palace in opalescent sequins practically glued to her body and a crown of teeny-tiny braids falling from the top of her head.
While many of the people who go out in New York every night were in London going out every night, enough of the people who go out every night in New York were still in New York going out every night. (Are you with me?) One of the most recent fashionable crowd-pleasers was the fund-raising dinner given by the American Friends of Blerancourt at the Pierpont Morgan Library honoring Pierre Rosenberg, the recipient of the first Blerancourt Prize, for helping make Blerancourt the splendid repository it is today.
Those wondering just what is Blerancourt — and I know you’re out there somewhere — be advised it is the only museum in the world devoted to the social, political and artistic history of French-American relations, located in the village of Blerancourt about 80 miles from Paris. Anne Morgan, the daughter of legendary American financier J. Pierpont Morgan, bought the 17th-century Chateau of Blerancourt during World War I as headquarters for her extraordinary humanitarian war efforts, lived there later and opened it as a Franco-American museum in 1924 before finally turning it over to the French government. The American Friends of Blerancourt are just that, people interested in its extraordinary beauty and history and willing to support it financially. As for the honored guest Pierre Rosenberg, he is one of France’s most distinguished art historians, the curator of Blerancourt for 12 years and at present the famous president and director of the Louvre. The honorary chairmen of the glamorous and privileged evening were the French Ambassador to the United States Francois Bujon de l’Estang and Jayne Wrightsman, the New York Francophile who is probably more knowledgeable about fine French furniture and decorations than many a stuck-up curator. Herewith a list of those who bought tickets for the frightfully exclusive affair and swore they’d be coming in their best black tie: Our former ambassador to France and Mrs. Walter Curley, Mr. and Mrs. Parker Gilbert, Ambassador and Mrs. Jean-Paul Angles, Mr. and Mrs. David Granger, Elizabeth de Cuevas, Mrs. Charles Peebler, Mrs. John Roosevelt, Anne Bass, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Marino, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar de la Renta, former ambassador Anne Cox Chambers, Mrs. Rodman Rockefeller, Ambassador and Mrs. Arthur Hartman, Mr. and Mrs. Simon Critchell, the American-born Baroness Bernard d’Anglejan (she is the founder and chairman of the American Friends), Gloria Steinem and on and on into the night. I’m told they all made it to the party, but I couldn’t personally count heads because you can’t do that from London.
Joan Rivers was all in drifting black worn with diamonds and that signature gardenia tucked in her hair at the inty-inty dinner Lucile and Guy Peyrelongue of the L’Oreal Peyrelongues gave for her at their fine Park Avenue apartment. All the ones Joan loves and likes the best were there — C.Z. Guest, full-skirted and sandaled; Carroll Petrie in pink; Blaine and Robert Trump; Ghislaine Maxwell; Ann (InStyle) and Charles Jackson; Barbara Taylor Bradford and Robert Bradford; Orin Lehman; Tommy Corchran; Karl Wellner; Paul Wilmot, and Robert Higdon. Toasts were drunk and kisses too numerous to mention were exchanged. Carroll Petrie kept her cool in spite of having walked the last few blocks to the party after someone knocked the back end off her Rolls. Who said life was fair?
(On Friday, read what Joan wore to the Prince of Wales’s dinner at Buckingham Palace, one of the best dresses in the room, and how Prince Charles lauded Robert Higdon of Washington for so effortlessly arranging the London entertainments and divertissements for the supporters of the Prince of Wales Foundation. Lauded him to the skies, he did. His Royal Highness doesn’t do that every night. Not even every other night.)