Byline: Aileen Mehle
Don’t let anyone try to tell you that Princess Firyal of Jordan, once married to the late King Hussein’s younger brother, is not a world-class hostess. When this exotic, sparkling, couture-clad, bejeweled live wire who knows everybody who is anybody gives a party in New York or London or Paris or any garden spot you care to name, it’s always the best, the most beautiful, the jazziest, the most fun. No half-way measures for Firyal, who knows just how to set the tone when she entertains. The food is always superb. So is the music. All stops are pulled out and then pulled out again. What’s over the top for most party-givers is “I’m just getting started” for Firyal, who’s good for a surprise a minute. As for her guests, no dullards need apply.
Firyal’s latest party, given at her amazing house in London with gardens as big as a park, was in honor of Muck Flick, whose late German industrialist grandfather’s vast fortune can more or less be summed up in two words — Mercedes-Benz — and for Muck’s lovely new bride, Dr. Corinne Michaela Flick, a German lawyer.
You all remember Muck. His real name is Gert-Rudolf Flick and many have regarded him and his brother, Mick, because of their looks, money and devil-may-care attitude, as two of the great playboys of the Western World. Maybe. But Muck also studied law at Munich University, served for two years in the German navy, moved to London and is now involved in the art world, having amassed a collection of fine Italian paintings and a treasure trove of English silver. Also he is very much in love with Corinne, nee Muller-Vivil, who comes from a prominent family of German entrepreneurs and also studied law at Munich University, where she received a PhD in German literature. “Muck’s now a new man,” his pals say. Love, your magic spell is everywhere.
Fifty guests came to celebrate in Firyal’s dining room because that’s the number it holds. The tables looked spectacular, luminous with porcelain, shimmering with crystal, with miniature palm trees (real) dripping with bunches of green dates rising from the center. It was not a mere dinner that was served but a feast beginning with small, individual blocks of ice at each place, hollowed out and filled with caviar. It went on like that for hours with Firyal running the show in a white organza dress embroidered with ivy leaves designed by Gianfranco Ferre.
Afterward, a young band a la Gypsy Kings played in the flower-filled drawing room where you never saw such dancing. Mila Mulroney of the Montreal Mulroneys undulated. Hilary Weston of Canada and Florida moved it all. But the star of the evening was none other than the eminent New York financier Ezra Zilkha, who showed everyone there how they really do it in the Middle East. Talk about a twinkletoes. The band even followed him, dancing all the way, out to his car when the party was over. Dear “Twinkletoes.”
And this is who was there: Media tycoon Conrad Black and his wife, Barbara; Michael Bloomberg with Felicia Taylor; Mercedes and Sid Bass; the fetching literary agent Lynn Nesbit; Ann and Gordon Getty; Cecile Zilkha; Christiane Amanpour and Jamie Ruben, once of the State Department, now babysitting his and Christiane’s newborn; Janet and Gilbert de Botton; our Ambassador in London and Mrs. Philip Lader; Evelyn Lauder; Gale Hayman and William Haseltine; the real estate tycoon Jerry Speyer and Mrs. Speyer; Lord and Lady Weidenfeld; the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney of Canada; Gil Shiva; the Winston Churchills; Kate Ford with Frank Chopin; Galen Weston; Mario d’Urso from Italy; Sir David Frost; Dr. and Mrs. Sabri Challah (he is Firyal’s brilliant cousin), and, last but never least, Firyal’s dearest friend, the New York capitalist Lionel Pincus who, ask anybody, invented charm.
Just to let you know that the elite of interior decorators will be delightfully occupied in the fall creating rooms for the new New York Showhouse Designed for Women. Each room will pay tribute to and be designed around that particular designer’s “favorite fabulous female.” My goodness, but doesn’t that sound like fun?
The Showhouse, set to open on Oct. 26 and run through Nov. 15 with a preview cocktail party on Oct. 25, will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Evelyn Lauder, the founder, president and guiding light of the Foundation, is one of the honorary chairmen of the preview along with Barbara Walters and Karen Nickell of Traditional Home. Karen Lauder and Laura Tisch are the chairmen of the Showhouse’s benefit committee, and Karen and Willliam Lauder gave a reception in their sleek apartment to kick off the event.
Mario Buatta, the Prince of Chintz, already has his room worked out. He’s doing a bedroom scene for Barbara Walters with a luxurious bed so loaded with service push buttons that busy Barbara could interview the world with pillow talk. Barry Dixon, the Washington D.C. designer, is conjuring up a “secretly romantic” room as his homage to Diane Sawyer, a soft, warm cocoon as timeless and glamorous as the videogenic lady herself, all caressing silk and cashmere in shades of fawn, blush and cream guaranteed to lure you in and keep you there. Does Mike Nichols know about this? Thad Hayes, who did Karen and William Lauder’s chic digs, is creating a room for Evelyn Lauder. As for Greg Jordan, his drawing room for Aileen Mehle is still on the drawing board. Oh, come on.
Did you know that Evelyn Lauder got a chance to make her stage debut in the big new splashy production of “The King and I” at the Palladium while she was in London? Well, that’s not exactly how it happened. But Elaine Paige, the musical’s stunning star, did give an intimate little reception for Evelyn backstage in her dressing room. Evelyn got a taste of the local showbiz when a gang of paparazzi began flashing away nonstop. The ladies were together for a reason, to make plans for the BCRF’s coming events, described above.
During the four years she was chairman of the Palm Beach Red Cross Ball, Betty Scripps Harvey raised a cool $4 million. No wonder Placido Domingo has asked Betty to chair the Washington Opera Ball next year. Lately Betty’s been in California, in La Jolla, meeting with board members of the Scripps Foundation for Medicine and Science, to which she’s giving a $250,000 donation. After that, it’s off to the Golden Door to recuperate from her spending spree. They say the trampolines help.