Byline: Aileen Mehle

Everyone knows Giorgio Armani is the genius of the suit, made for males and females. What everyone doesn’t know is that Armani designs and has designed some of the most beautiful evening dresses ever. This is all made as clear as the crystals he uses on the exquisite clothes-to-knock-them-dead-in on display at the Armani Retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, shown to perfection and installed by the famed Robert Wilson, the expert on theatrical settings. This is the kind of fashion exhibition that bowls people over, a crowd pleaser of the first water. Women loved it, men loved it. Veronica Hearst, there in a black satin and velvet Armani from his latest collection loved it. Blaine Trump loved it. Princess Ira von Furstenberg loved it. Lynn Forester loved it. Pat Riley of the Miami Heat, an Armani fan, loved it. Anna Wintour certainly looked as though she loved it. Obviously, I loved it. It seemed that half the huge crowd at the Guggenheim gathered around Giorgio to tell them how much they loved it. I hope he realizes what a triumph he has on his incomparable hands on this visit to New York from Milan.
Oh, and the Sheldon Solows loved it. Afterwards, the chosen few invited repaired to Solow’s building on West 57th Street where 400 or 500 revelers were doing their best to revel on the entire 38th floor, which Robert Isabell had decorated to a turn — if only one could have seen it. It was a little murky in there, folks. It would help a lot if party givers learned enough to turn up the lights a little at one of these things. No sense in stumbling over friends and the furniture. God knows they learned long ago how to turn up the volume.

It was a chic and stunning group that turned up at the Russian Tea Room for the gala dinner to benefit one of the world’s most magnificent museums, the toast and the boast of Russia, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The guest of honor was that museum’s director, Dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky, and the guests were the American Friends of the Hermitage. One of the many wonderful things about Americans is that they are quick to support great cultural institutions anywhere in the world, and if the Hermitage with its three million treasures of art, antiquity and archaeology and its collection of European masterpieces, isn’t a cultural institution, we might as well all go back to scratching on the walls of caves.
Mikhail “Misha” Baryshnikov, another Russian treasure, Annette and Oscar de la Renta and Jayne Wrightsman were the dinner chairmen. Everyone waited for Misha to dance in; he didn’t show. But Brooke Astor was there, looking spiffy, and so was Mrs. Michel (Helene) David-Weill, the wife of the international banker, in a garnet velvet Balmain that showed off her alabaster skin. Annette de la Renta wore a black velvet dinner suit trimmed in jet also by Balmain. (Need I remind my readers, who know everything, that Annette’s husband, Oscar, designs the couture at Balmain? Of course I needn’t.) In the crowd were such worthies as Edith and Philippe de Montebello (his little museum is called The Metropolitan), Guido Goldman, Barbara Walters, Gaetana Enders, the Robert Massies and a floor full of others just like them.

For all those Texans hoping their very own George W. will win the race, there’s nothing like a little shopping to keep you busy while you wait. And the perfect place to do it will be the first-ever Dallas International Art and Antique Fair opening Nov. 3 with a gala preview to benefit the Dallas Museum of Art. Zillionairess Nancy Hamon, known to her face and behind her back as “Mrs. Dallas” because of her good works, is a co-chairman of the party along with Mario Buatta, the New York decorator they just love in Dallas. Paige Rense, who runs things at Architectural Digest, is the honorary chairman. This new fair, organized by David and Lee Ann Lester, will take place in a 55,000-square-foot tent right in the middle of Victory, a 70-acre residential/commercial complex now being developed by two big Dallas hotshots, Ross Perot Jr. — you’ve heard of his daddy — and Tom Hicks. At least 75 dealers from London, Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Geneva, Buenos Aires, Munich and, of course, Dallas, will show their wares, furniture, paintings, books, carpets, tapestries and jewelry rarely seen west of the Mississippi, never mind the Pecos. The members of the evening’s committee are too numerous to mention, but just let me say there isn’t one among them you wouldn’t be pleased and proud to say howdy to if you met him/her on the street.

And please don’t forget the New York University Child Study Center Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria on Dec. 5. The big publisher Arthur Carter and his wife Linda are the co-chairs, and the honorees are Leonard Stern, who has set the standard for the care and support of homeless women and children, and Dr. David Satcher, the U.S. Surgeon General, for his landmark report on mental health. The Child Study Center is an extraordinary institution, an essential force in helping the children of the city.

Speaking of honorees and committee members, Jeanne Thayer and Andrew Forge were honored at the benefit gala “Celebrating the Landscape Image” at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. It was a festive night chaired by Wendy Vanderbilt, herself a recognized artist, and the august committee was composed of such art world stalwarts as Flora and Sidney Biddle, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Jan Cowles, John Richardson, Jo Carol and Ronald Lauder, William Lieberman, Kathy and Billy Rayner and others too artistic to mention.

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