Byline: Michael Kilian.
SO CHICAGO TRIBUNE (TRIB)
Edition: NORTH SPORTS FINAL
Origin: Writing from New York
LP The Countess Barat Pricey Apartment Posh East Side Neighborhood New York, N.Y. Dear Darling,
TX I"m sorry, my precious, but they simply won"t go away. You"ve been telling me for absolute ages now that Glitz is Dead, that the nouveau riche have become the riche passe , that America is fed up to its nearly 7 percent unemployment rate with social airs and "Bonfire of the Vanities" conspicuous consumption. But, like the root-feeding mealybugs in my garden, the Glitzoids keep coming back. I was with a swarm of them the other night at a $2,500-a-plate soiree that would have outglittered even Nancy Reagan in her grandest 1980s delusion of grandeur. You"re too, too young to have attended, my darling, but I"m sure you"ve heard of that absolutely, incredibly, perfectly marvelous "party of the century" masked ball that Truman Capote threw for his 540 favorite people at the Plaza Hotel 25 years ago. Tru"s guest list included not only the "Look at me! I"ve got money!" crowd but a vast assemblage of some of the cleverest, wittiest and most talented and distinguished folk American civilization had around in the 1960s-Alice Roosevelt Longworth; George Plimpton; John Kenneth Galbraith; poet Marianne Moore; choreographer Jerome Robbins; Walter Lippman; Amanda Burden; authors Ralph Ellison, Lewis Lapham and Philip Roth; the incomparable Babe Paley; Penelope Tree; and, if not Fred, at least Adele Astaire. It was a soiree the like of which would never be seen again, * n"est-ce pas? Not, alas, quite. The Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, daughter of the late film star Rita Hayworth and notorious playboy/world religious leader Aly Khan, decided she wanted to throw a Very Special Event this fall to honor her mother"s memory and raise funds for Alzheimer"s research (the princess is chairman of the national Alzheimer"s Foundation, as you must know). Couldn"t she have tossed a simple little tea dance or weenie roast at a time when the recession has reduced New York to a shambles resembling Europe during the Black Plague? Listen to this roll call No, she went full haut hog. She had a huge, splendiferous tent erected in Central Park adjoining the Tavern on the Green, and attempted to recreate Tru"s immortal grand occasion right here in 1991, calling it the "Black and White (everyone had to wear black or white or both) Masked Ball." My dear, it was like Andy Warhol trying his hand at the Mona Lisa. If some of the guests from the original bash had come back for a luxe, tux redux, it might have been a trifle more interesting. But the likes of the droll Mr. Plimpton and the amazing Amanda all had something better to do. Instead, the princess" 800-name guest list appeared to have been lifted from the tables of contents of Vanity Fair and People magazines, if not the National Enquirer. Instead of the likes of the legendary Babe Paley, whose incomparable fashion style gave the world the A-line dress, among other niceties, we had Ivana Trump, whose celebrated fashion redo has merely given the world a glimpse of what Brigitte Bardot used to look like. We had Claus von Bulow"s stepdaughter Ala; the too, too, too redone Joan Rivers; ratings disaster Deborah Norville; Mr. and Mrs. Regis Philbin (but not Kathy Lee); heiress Patty Hearst (without her designer AK-47); the excruciatingly upwardly mobile Sandy Pittman, wife of MTV randy rock video mogul Bob Pittman; Laura Tisch, whose mommy spent $3 million on her nuptials; Nancy Reagan-era Dreadfully Fashionable First Friend Jerry Zipkin; and, yes, Brooke Shields (!), fresh from making an Italian TV movie called "An American Love." Not Tru As you well know, mi bella contessa, Tru"s could be a vicious little swine-as the victims of his roman a clef "Answered Prayers" demonstrated by shunning him forever. But the fellow at least had great wit, style and panache. To perform Tru"s inimitable role at her gala, the princess acquired the services of that "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" chap Robin Leach, wearing a mondo bizarro striped tuxedo outfit that made him look like an extra from "Guys and Dolls." His notion of Capote-esque wit was to note: "He (Capote) and I have different preferences," and then thrust forth his date for the evening, a Kelly McGillis look-alike model named Debbie. It was, to be sure, a high fashion night, with 53 ladies parading about in hideously expensive black and white fashions, made just for them for the occasion by a vast array of hideously expensive designers. Among them was the churlish Arnold Scaasi, who was asked if the dress he"d designed for the princess to wear was at all like the dresses he designs for First Lady Barbara Bush. He snarled back, rather contemptuously for the White House court dresser: "It"s not a Barbara Bush dress! It"s a Princess Yasmin dress!" Yes, yes, Highland, Indiana"s own Georgette Mosbacher was of course very present, arriving on the arm of perpetually smiling song and dance man Peter Allen. Asked why spouse Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher wasn"t at least on the other arm, she said, "My husband"s mother died last night." Did I have a marvelous time? Take a guess Of course. Any boulevardier worth his spats can find a way to enjoy himself at an Episcopal funeral-as I"ve done. There were scads of truly nice people there, including Bob Mackie, the nicest guy in fashion. My old amie delicieuse Dianne deWitt turned up with husband, Edward, and with her in my arms on the dance floor, it didn"t seem like an Episcopal funeral at all. But as I surveyed the hideously expensive finery, the elaborate decor, the Yves Saint Laurent-scent party favors and a menu that included cold carrot and ginger soup served in hollowed-out autumnal pumpkins, stuffed baby chicken with mushrooms and chocolate mousse bat cake, I was put in mind of financier Felix Rohatyn, who rescued New York from its last financial black plague and who some years ago complained bitterly that the world would be better off if the rich just sent in their checks and skipped all the finery and folderol. Indeed, as I left, there were some street people gathered outside the gala"s barricades-doubtless wondering what was disturbing the peace and quiet of their home, which Central Park has become. At the least, I could have saved them some pumpkin rind. Love, Captain Kilian CAPTION: PHOTO: Asked why she wasn"t with husband Robert, Georgette Mosbacher said, "My husband"s mother died last night." Doing the escort honors: Peter Allen. AP photo. @Art:PHOTO
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