Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine
Around Town
with Donna Shor   

Something fishy? The answer is yes, if the topic is a recent Iceland weekhere. It began with Washington’s ambassadorial glamour couple, theAmbassador of Iceland Jon Hannibalsson and actress-wife, Bryndis Schram, andtheir sponsorship of a vernissage of Icelandic painters at the Corcoran Galleryof Art, then of Icelandic fashions at the Renaissance Hotel.

Chef Siggi Hall, who does a TV food series for Iceland Broadcasting, and isowner of Siggi’s, a popular hotel in the capital city, Reykjavik, flew over to presentIceland lamb and marvelous firm-fleshed fish on the Corcoran buffet table.

The offering of furrier Eggert Johansson, however, was a fish of a differentcolor (oops!). That silk-smooth tomato red jacket worn by Bryndis was, he toldincredulous listeners, made from tanned salmon and perch skins according to a specialprocess he helped develop that produces a strong but silken leather. Theparade of models in his “Ocean Leather” collection wore masterfully cut fish skingarments in soft blues, bright reds, caramel and deep black, lush with rich fur trim.Irresistible.

Eggert told us Andriana Furs in Chevy Chase carry them here, but we didn’t rushout the door when he added that they average $10,000 to $15,000 in price.

The fascinating exhibition, Confronting Nature: Icelandic Art of the 20th Century,which will be at the Corcoran through November 26, is a trip through a hauntingseries of landscapes by 24 Icelandic painters. That country is a young landmass,still near-pristine (although inhabited for a thousand years) with strikinggeological contrasts in its interior regions, ranging from mountains-of-the-moon arcticdesert to glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, and hundreds of geysers from the boilingtemperatures of its subsurface water table.

Jaquelyn Serwer, chief curator of the Corcoran, emphasized the uniqueness ofthis show, saying that the various aspects of these natural landscapes have influencedthe country’s artists, and that this relationship with the environment gives theirart an incomparable national character.

Red, White and Blue Day at Café Milano: Owner Franco Nuschese outdidhimself. To offer respite to his grieving customers after the tragedies of September 11,and to benefit the New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund, he organizedand underwrote a sumptuous Sunday brunch that drew a full house, though hehad only a week to plan and announce it. Georgetowners turned out to jam the flag-bedeckedtables, glad to see their friends, bid on the auction items and contribute to the cause.

Seen: Diana and Roland Flamini, Ann and Lloyd Hand, Jim Hoaglandand Jane Stanton Hitchcock, the Ambassadors of Columbia and Malta,Huda and Samia Farouki, Bill and Norma Tiefel, Tandy and WyattDickerson, Karen Feld, the all-media journalist who is now Washington editorof the Shuttle Sheet with her tiny poodle Amaretto riding about in her handbag,and Hal and Carmen Petrowitz. Cellina Fuchs Barth, of Cleveland Park, and theDolomite’s Merano, donated several of the auction’s loveliest items, including a magnificenttall blue and white Kaffee-dispenser that could make you a caffeine fiend for life.

Despite the sun-sparkling day and the relief of many who had been glued to theirtelevision screens, conversations seemed ever mindful of what had befallen ournation. By the time tenor Jay Coupe was urged to rise and lead the crowd in singingGod Bless America, men and women were openly crying.

A Pair of Queens: Esther Coopersmith might have been the only Washingtonianwho received telephone calls from two monarchs concerned for her safety afterSeptember 11. Both the Queen of Jordan and the Queen of Thailand checked in to check up.

Esther and Coca-Cola executive Janet Howard recently hosted 50 of the manyfriends of the departing Ambassador of Japan and his wife, Toshiko Yanai at afarewell luncheon. Tom Foley, the former U.S. ambassador to Japan, spoke warmlyof the Yanais, and they spoke of how much they enjoyed their posting here.

Seen: Frances Humphrey Howard, Buffy Cafritz, Ina Ginsburg, foreign policysyndicated columnist Georgie Ann Geyer, television’s Evelyn Di Bona,Terrence Adamson of the National Geographic, Lee Kimche McGrath ofFriends of Art and Preservation in Embassies, Beverly D. Rivers, secretary ofthe District of Columbia, and Michael Goodman of Coca-Cola.

Esther is currently working with the Russian Federation, serving as Washingtonchairperson of the St. Petersburg International Center for Preservation,planning the 300th anniversary celebration in 2003 of the founding of St.Petersburg, long considered the cultural center of Russia.

The Eyes Have It: At the St. Regis Hotel, two outstanding women wereapplauded long and loud at the 35th Annual Eye Ball of the International EyeFoundation, a group dedicated to eradicating preventable blindness around the

world. (The party was originally to have been hosted by the Ambassador and Mrs.Nabil Fahmy at the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, but became stillanother of the displacements and postponements since Sept. 11.)

Frances Humphrey Howard, sister of the late Vice-President Hubert Humphrey,was honorary patron of the evening. An experienced lecturer and woman of globalvision, she has contributed for decades to domestic and international medical seminarsand congresses.

The first “Eye Ball” chairman, Natalie Bunker Stoddard and her late husband,George Bunker were honored for their dedication. George, (who built the aerospacegiant Martin-Marietta,) served 24 years as first chairman of the board untilhis death in 1985. In 1967, Natalie chaired such a glittering event at theEmbassy of Portugal—dubbed the “Eye Ball”—that it is still one of Washington’slongest-running galas. This year’s benefit chairman, Georgianna Hallheimer, wonkudos for the spirit of the evening, the excellent dinner menu, and good danceband, as did Victoria Sheffield, executive director extraordinaire.

The group’s founder, the late Dr. John Harry King, Jr., held that “the promotionof peace through the prevention of blindness” would be reached by internationalsharing of expertise in sight preservation. The 2001 awards for the Promotion ofPeace and Vision went to ophthalmologist Baxter F. McLendon, M.D., and toWalter Beach, a political scientist and Foundation stalwart.

Seen: C.D. Ward and pretty brunette Marty Alafoginis; lawyer Leonard Kelly;Dr. John F. O’Neill, a director of the foundation, and his wife, lawyer Patricia Aiken-O’Neill;horsewoman Mignon Smith with Dr. Robert Roy White; Judge PaulMichel, with Eschi Warwick who donated a weekend for six at the Riverhouse on CaveHill Farm in the Shenandoah (complete with 17’ Ceilings, and a 30 foot long diningroom); and Marsha Nelms, who contributed a cloud blue lace Bob Mackiedesigned gown to the silent auction. One of the auction items, a dinner for four, drewa chuckle. At what Washington restaurant would you expect to find Eye Ball patrons?Capitol Hill’s “The Monocle” of course!

Bradley Stoddard, Natalie’s husband, beamed as she was honored at the gala.Consummate hosts who appreciate a good party, the Stoddards threw an excellentfarewell bash for True Davis a few weeks ago. At a jolly table of some 20 diners, afour-foot high champagne-bottle-balloon and a companion giant champagne glasshovered overhead. Among the guests: Paul and Betty Elicker, Frances and JoeSmoak, Tom Pickford, Jack Babson, and Janine and Herb Fletcher. (Incidentally,Vermont granite from the company founded by Herb’s grandfather will go intoAlexandria’s rebuilt Wilson Bridge, just as it was their granite that went into the originalconstruction some decades ago.)

Buzz Around Town: Hillary Clinton doing stand-up? She may not have givenJay Leno reason to tremble at her competition, but she was pretty funny roastingTony Kornheiser at the Spina Bifida Association of America benefit, saying—with various inflections that—”Tony WHO?” was the first question she askedafter being invited to put his feet to the fire. Since 1990, Funnyman-cum-sports-casterTony has graced (he would probably say “disgraced”) the pages of theWashington Post, until recently occupying the left-hand column of the SundayStyle section. He’s left for perhaps greener electronic pastures.

Is there an item or event you think “AROUND TOWN” should knowabout? Send an email to this column atdonnashor@aol.com


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