Saturday, 5 February 2011

Rich, Rich, Rich

I recently came across this article from the glittering 1980s, and had to share it...

Rich, Rich, Rich: Eight Hundred People, Plus Nancy, Rub Moneyed Elbows For New York`s Bash Of The Year.
April 01, 1987, by Michael Kilian, Chicago Tribune.

There may have been a few grander occasions this century - Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, for example, or perhaps Cornelia Guest’s 27th coming-out party. But certainly there’s been no grander occasion in New York this year than the modest little dinner for 800 that the Fun Apple’s Metropolitan Opera threw last week for First Lady Nancy Reagan and several hundred square yards of some of the richest people in America.

This was not merely one of those tacky hotel ballroom dinners, where they serve parsley that looks like it had also visited last night’s tacky hotel dinner.

Among other things, all 800 swells and ladies were seated and tabled on the actual Metropolitan Opera stage. We’re talking about a full infantry battalion of rich people, and there was still room for Michael Carney’s entire society orchestra and a dance floor large enough for mass tangos.

Mrs. Reagan was radiant and sublimely elegant in an emerald-green, floor-length Carolina Herrera gown (one can’t wear a mere Adolfo to the Fun Apple, where Herrera is hot, hot, hot).

But even Nancy the Glorious was overwhelmed by all the sumptuous splendour.

The stage was decorated with the huge and brightly hued Chagall hangings used for the stage setting of the Met’s production of The Magic Flute - which, a propros de rien, was Mozart’s peculiar operatic ode to the Masons.

Nibbles and sips
There were 12 candles and I think six dozen roses on every table, for which patrons had to pony up as much as 25 grand. There was pasta with lobster and asparagus, roast loin of veal, sugar snap peas and wild rice with chestnuts and cranberries. There was Simi Chardonnay 1984, Simi Cabernet 1982, Chandon Blanc de Noirs and an X.O. cognac that no Christian Brother ever got near.

But mostly there was money, money, money, money, money, money. True, they do throw elegant affairs to benefit provincial outfits like Chicago’s Lyric Opera, but someone from the Plumbers Union always turns up.

Here there were no plumbers. Or Masons, And certainly no politicians such as are always underfoot at Washington galas.

All right, Gloria Steinem got on the list, as did the dreadfully fashionable First Friend Jerome Zipkin and that syndicated name-dropper Suzy. And Your Humble Servant was many miles out of his tax bracket.

But most of the names were stratospherically haut monde. David and Laurance Rockefeller, Bus Mosbacher. Nancy Kissinger. Oscar de la Renta. Mrs. John Hay Whitney. Sao Schlumberger (pronounced, please, Sow Shlumbairzhay). Carolyn Roehm. And the late Shah’s little darling, Princess Sarvenaz Pahlavi. Of course, the $1,000 or more a plate was just loose change. Weighing in with the really big bucks were entire corporations. I don’t mean Mr. Donut, either. I mean AT&T (although Cliff Robertson couldn’t make it), American Express, Bristol-Meyers, Chase Manhattan, Coca-Cola, First Boston, Johnson & Johnson, Manufacturers Hanover, Merrill Lynch (happily for Mrs. Reagan, former Lyncher Don Regan didn’t make it either).

Soprano Marilyn Horne entertained, singing among other things, Rossini’s Di tanti palpiti, which I think was also the name of the pasta-and-lobster salad.

Unfortunately, New Yorkers have a way of imbuing even the most tasteful occasion (Mrs. Reagan received an award designed by Harry Winston for her contribution to the arts) with that Fun Apple touche de glitz.

Spotting the swells
One couple sweeping up the stairs to the mezzanine for the pre-dinner champagne swill made a beeline for the railing overlooking the entrance.

He (a short, square person who despite black tie looked like he once worked at the Sands as a pit boss): “This is a nice position. You can see all the action. Check the names for me.”
She (a towering brunette with cleavage like the federal deficit): “Gimme some champagne.”

Another woman was overheard talking about her new country house: “We’re not high enough to see rolling. We see woods.”

And I just loved Martha Redfield Wallace when she waved vaguely at the Opera balconies and said, “I own a box up there - somewhere.”

I fear there was almost a tasteless scene when, caught up in the romance of the moment, Your Humble Servant was almost decked by a banker for kissing his wife’s hand. But Yr.Hbl.Svt. also kissed the hand of one of Mrs. Reagan’s associates and the Secret Service only smiled.

Class, as they say, will out.

1 comment:

  1. My dear Dolores, swill was THE perfect word.


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