Fall, with its back-to-town surge ofreturning vacationers, often bringswith it a wave of newcomersbewitched and bewildered by the charmsand the complexities of Washington.
One cool way to a fast clue-in on thecity’s political, business, arts and socialstructure: get yourself invited to a partygiven by one of the “Power Hostesses.”Their ranks may be thinning since therecent loss of Katharine Graham and sincethe days of the iconic Perle Mesta, butone perennial — mentored byAmbassador Perle herself — is AllisonLaland.
Through eight presidencies Allison hassoldiered on, hosting dinner dances, teadances, lunches and brunches for some ofthe most famous names in local andnational history. Ambassadors, WhiteHouse officials, Cabinet members,Supreme Court justices and members ofcongress of all political persuasions havebeen happily wined anddined by her. A recentparty honoring theAmbassador of Spain,Javier Ruperez and hiswife Rakela was noexception. Check theguest list: the ambassadorsof Belgium, Brazil, Egypt,Hungary, Japan, Portugal,Sweden, and Tunisia werethere with their respectivewives, as was Mrs. Antonio (Beatrice Lodge) Oyarzabal, wifeof the former ambassadorof Spain. Also presentwere Assistant Secretary ofState Anthony Wayne,Republican Sen. ThadCochran of Mississippi,and Tennessee’s DemocraticRepresentative JohnTanner and his wifeBetty Tanner, SpecialAssistant to the President(National SecurityCouncil) and Mrs.Turkel Patterson, andthe Ronald Mloteks. Protocol ChiefLawrence Dunham attended as did CocaCola Vice-President Janet Howard, RoyPfautch, Philip Merrill, publisher ofWashingtonian magazine, author RolandFlamini and his wife Diane, architectDean Philpott and his wife Cathy (a popularcommittee chairwoman), and Mrs.James (Candy) Van Alen of Newport,Manhattan, and Palm Beach.
From the arts were Carole and ClimisLascaris (she is president of the NationalMuseum of Women in the Arts, he headsa design firm with clients worldwide), theLivingston Biddles (he is the formerchairman of the National Endowment forthe Arts and his wife Caterina is an artist),Mr. and Mrs. Martin Feinstein (he isDirector Emeritus of the WashingtonOpera), and actor Austin Hay. FormerSenator Charles and Mrs. Percy attended,as did the William Millers (he wasSecretary of the Treasury and Chairman ofthe Federal Reserve), philanthropists Maryand Eric Weinman, and Dr. MichaelLapadula and his daughter MissySnelling, director of public relations forHillwood Museum.
Speaking of Parties: Anna Maria andGiorgio Via give relaxed and comfortableparties in their McLean home, and theirguest lists lean to the diplomatic and internationalcommunity, as on a recentevening. Seen: the ambassadors ofSwitzerland, Finland, Iceland, Portugal,Tunisia, Belgium, Spain, and the wife ofthe Canadian ambassador, Mrs. Kergin.Among the crowd were the Papal Nuncio,Reverend Montalvo, Sen. Charles andLorraine Percy, the John Tanners, Mrs.Patrick Leahy, wife of the senator fromVermont, Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn(he was ambassador to Switzerland),Mr. and Mrs.Charles Ruesch, the EdBruces, Lolo Sarnoff, and General andMrs. Wallace Robinson.
The Buzz: Two longtime Washingtoniansare said to be leaving the area soon.The Clement Congers are moving to DelRay, Florida. Clem, dubbed “the GrandAcquisitor” for his tireless work (read:silken-smooth arm twisting) securing giftsand funds from donors all over the countryto enhance the State Department’sDiplomatic Reception Rooms. Thoughthey were sparsely furnished when hebegan, the rooms, important for diplomaticpurposes, are now filled with historicalobjects. Gail Serfaty, who took upthe task when Clem retired a few yearsago, has announced that he will be honoredat a State Department dinner. TrueDavis, a former under secretary of state,and former U.S. ambassador toSwitzerland, has been a dapper and familiarfigure on the Washington social sceneas he tooled around town in his yellow andblack antique Rolls. He’ll be moving backto his hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri,“where the Pony Express began, and JesseJames was killed,” says True. DesignerAniko Gaal Schott returned fromDenmark to take off for Hungary, workingon the U.S. embassies in both countries.In Copenhagen, WashingtoniansWilma and Stuart Bernstein will settle infor his role as U.S. ambassador. InBudapest, where the new ambassador willbe Nancy Brinker of Houston and PalmBeach, Aniko will work with AmbassadorBrinker’s decorator in choosing art fromthe Art in Embassies program. Nancy isthe dynamo who, after her sister died ofbreast cancer, began the Susan G. KomenFoundation, and The Race for the Cure,raising $300 million to fight the disease.
Travelers’ Joy: Washingtonians roamedby land and sea this summer. Susan andDoug Bennett took a house in Mougins,on the French Riviera, creating a home-away-from-home with Washington visitorswho included Mary and MandyOurisman. Nini Ferguson and her childrenreturned from a Nantucket sailin’ andfishin’ stay, to go on to Sun Valley, whereher family has vacationed for years. Jackand Marianne Means Kilpatrick traveledthrough England, visiting North Yorkshirefor ceremonies celebrating the restorationof Kiplin Hall, the estate of the first LordBaltimore. Brad and Natalie BunkerStoddard, aboard a super-cruiser, saileddown the coast of Chile then rounded theCape, visiting with sea lions and countingpenguins as they went. Before taking offfor Spain, Ymelda Dixon traveled toAlbuquerque in the state where her father,the legendary Senator Dennis Chavez,served as U.S. senator for so many years.Ymelda’s niece, Federal CommunicationsCommissioner Gloria Tristani, whobefore her FCC post served as NewMexico’s Secretary of the Treasury, isexpected to run for the senatorial seat heldby longtime incumbent, Sen. PeteDomenici. The Albuquerque Journal,while noting Gloria’s accomplishments,acknowledged Domenici’s great popularity,stating: “It’s hard to beat ‘St. Pete’.”
Eschi Warwick, after a trip that tookin everywhere from Poland to SouthAfrica, left for Ireland with a group spear-headedby Brownie McLean. The bestdinner, says Eschi, was cooked by EileenByrne (whose show “Cooking WithEileen” will be aired in the U.S. this fall).Best evening? Hearing anecdotes about the“Great Houses” of Ireland from author-historianDesmond Guinness. When hiswife Penny served drinks however, thosewho asked for the “obvious” learned therewasn’t a drop of Guinness in the house!Another of Washington’s mega-realtors,Giselle Theberge-Jeppson, sailed Turkey’sturquoise waters with her husband JohnJeppson and pals Robert and Jamie Craft(he’s president of the Washington OperaBoard of Trustees) and their son Tiger.Leaving Marmaris in a gulet 7-cabin yacht,the voyagers stopped at coves and villagesas the spirit moved them. Also visitingTurkey were Phil Deutch, managingdirector, Perseus LLC and Marne Levine,chief of staff to Larry Summers, presidentof Harvard University and former secretaryof the treasury in the Clinton WhiteHouse. The couple visited Sahir Erozan’sluxury resort, Macakizi, in Bodrum, whichthey said was absolutely incredible. Sahiralso owns Cities Restaurant in AdamsMorgan. Super-traveler Roberta McCain,mother of John, boarded a 112-foot yachtwith longtime friend Betty Godley. Theyzigzagged around the Mediterranean,island-hopping off Greece (that marble-richcountry where Betty’s father, as ajunior engineer, helped build the greatdam at Marathon, the only all-marble damin the world). Roberta returned after visitingLondon and Lebanon (with stops inbetween) and sojourning on QueenVictoria’s beloved Isle of Wight. Backhere only a few days, Roberta took off tojoin another ship in Casablanca, boundfor Monte Carlo by way of Barcelona. Andhow was your summer?