Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine
Around Town

with Donna Shor

Now that fall is here, Washington's social carousel begins again the whirl of a new season. This summer,one of Washington's most lavish benefits ended the 1998-99 season with a fine French flair. TheWashington Opera Ball, held at the handsome residence of the Ambassador of France and MadameBujon de l'Estang, was a very Gallic gala indeed. Guests arriving from the thirty-three embassiesthat hosted pre-Ball dinners found themselves enveloped in the France of legend. ChristianLacroix, the innovative couturier who created the ambiance of the Ball, projected a phantasmagoria ofhis nation's colors over the building's façade. French opera rang out through the loudspeakers(thrilling the guests completely-the neighbors perhaps a little less so.)

Fragile young ballerinas in classic ballet poses graced the entrance steps. Once inside, guestspassed through the floodlit garden, with its turquoise swimming pool awash in long-stemmed red roses.Looming along the path like bedecked sentinels in damask and velvet, were dressmakers' forms, clad inintricate period gowns dreamed up by Lacroix.

Add together Lacroix's talent, the gracious hospitality of the Bujon de l'Estangs, and theorganizational abilities of Ball Chair Jane (Mrs. Jonathan) Sloat, , and you have an awesomeevent. Underwriters of the Washington Opera Ball were France Telecom, the Mobil Corporation, HonoraryChair Betty Scripps -Harvey, and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mrs. Eugene B. Casey. Mrs.Edward Bruce led the Women's Committee.

The evening brought out all the troops: Supreme Court justices, ambassadors, socialites, politicos,and more. Seen: the Mandell Ourismans, the Honorable Selwa "Lucky" Roosevelt, the Albert Smalls, Jill Smart Gore and Robert White, Jr., the Kenneth Woodcocks, the Robert Hafts, Count Wilhelm and Ulla Wachtmeister, Ina Ginsburg, the LeonardSilversteins, Jan and Tazewell Shepard, Buffy and Bill Cafritz, the LivingstonBiddles, the Stuart Bernsteins, and from Potomac and Palm Beach, Denise and BraddockAlexander, with tales of Braden, their adorable four-month-old daughter.

Red, Hot, But Never Blue: Once again, with summer came the annual Fourth of July barbecue heldatop the Kalorama penthouse of Collins and Mary Bird. The warmth of the hosts-Collins hashad lots of hosting practice, he used to own the Georgetown Inn-and the excellence of the barbecue (bestbaked beans in town) brought out over 100 of their closest friends. Seen: Tandy and WyattDickerson, Gertie d'Amecourt, Ambassador True Davis and Ann Sofikitis, Bill Tiefel, Billy and Kelli Martin, Eschi Warwick, Barbara de Franceaux, the Jorge Carniceros, Rhoda Septlici(Countess Trembiski), Pat Dixson, and Buddy and Chrissie Moran.

Diplomatic Dynamos: A cocktail party at the Four Seasons launched Gail Scott's new book, Diplomatic Dance: The New Embassy Life in America. The award-winning TV anchorwoman'slatest is a must-read if you are interested in international relations, and curious about the privatelives of the ambassadorial envoys the world sends us.

In it Lady Meyer, wife of Great Britain's Ambassador, spunkily defends the right to wear hermuch-commented-on short skirts, and discusses her legal battle overseas to recover her abducted children.Here also is striking Ljubica Acevska, Macedonia's Ambassador, commenting on the assumption peoplemake that any male aide accompanying her is the head official. "I feel sometimes I should wear a sashlike Miss America saying, 'I'm the Ambassador.' Ninety percent of the time people [can't grasp it]. Ourmentality hasn't caught up with reality."

Quotes from dashing Andrew Peacock, Australia's bachelor Ambassador are refreshinglyforthright, even after 28 years as a seasoned politician. Peacock is an international businessman aswell, who surfs for fun and keeps a vacation home in surfers' paradise, Malibu.

The Ambassador of Thailand and his blond wife, Boston-born Patricia (renamed Pacharin) are a popular pair. "But don't think we are Anna and the King of Siam," says Ambassador Pibulsonggram, adding that his present king was born in our country, in Cambridge,Massachusetts. This symbiotic couple (who go roller-blading together) complete the cultural crossover:he holds a degree in government from Dartmouth, and a political science Master's from Brown University;she travels to other cities as a practicing healer and teacher of Reiki, an ancient Asian system ofcomplementary medicine.

Gail's book also includes a glossary, detailed statistics on 170 countries and their holidays, andprotocol pointers to help us dance our way through the embassy two-step.

Glamour...With a Capital G: It's an overused word, but in this case, it aptly describes the partygiven by those two brainy and beautiful blondes, Penne Korth and Nini Ferguson, in Penne'sMassachusetts Avenue apartment. Even the hors d'oeuvres had a certain chic, if you're an admirer ofperfectly-wrought little crab cakes and sparkling dark orbs of caviar...and who isn't?

The occasion was the launching of Brooke Negley's book, The World By The Tail, afrom-the-heart account of Brooke's peripatetic life and the dogs that have "peopled" it, as she traipsedabout the world before settling in Texas. Many of her travels were spent as well catching up with herendlessly energetic mother, writer/photographer Nancy Holmes, whether on a movie set, at an Alpinelodge, a film shoot, or a stray palazzo. A jet set charter member, Nancy is traffic-stopping with hersignature snow-white hair, bright lipstick, and always an Hermés scarf; she is a commanding presence,even at a book party. Seen: Ann Hand, George Grayson, Holidae Hayes, John Gall, Andrew Peacock,Alexandra and Arnaud de Borchgrave, Tandy and Wyatt Dickerson, Gahl Burt, Amanda Downes,the Ambassador of Spain and Beatrice Oyarzabal, and Carolyn Peachey.

A River Runs Past It: In an informal and touching ceremony, several old friends gathered on RiverRoad in Potomac at Merry-Go-Round Farm, once the home of famed columnist Drew Pearson and his wife Luvie. Luvie's son Tyler Abell and his wife Bess now live there. The occasion wasthe dedication of two plaques on boulders, along the Potomac at the foot of the cliff below their home,marking the spot of the ashes of both Drew and Luvie. Family members and friends told anecdotes of thecolorful pair, and reminisced about times spent on the huge, beautiful estate where the Pearsonsentertained presidents, ambassadors, Supreme Court Justices, senators, and movie stars.

Guests rambled through the woods over some of the eight miles of trails connecting streams to threelakes, stables and riding rings, tennis courts, and canoe landings. Seen: Jack Anderson, Drew'slongtime partner on their column Washington Merry-Go-Round, was there, as well as the Les Whittens (Les also wrote the column for some years), Austin and Gogo Kiplinger, Margot Hahn, GarnettStackelberg, Arthur and Joan Gardner, Ymelda Dixon, Mary and Pat Munroe, George and Betty Beale Graeber, and John and June Hechinger.

For The Children: ABC News' Cokie Roberts emceed, White House National Security Advisor Sandy Berger reported on Kosovo, and Bob Dole (just back from the Balkans) accepted anaward and a birthday cake, before three hundred people at the Grand Hyatt for the Kosovo Relief FundBenefit Dinner, chaired by Avni Mustafaj.

Guests were summoned to dinner by the American Originals Fife and Drum Corps, under the leadership offounder Georgia Graves, a dinner Co-Chair. Awards went to Rep. Eliot Engel for working tofree prisoners in Serbian camps, and to Dr. Vjosa Dobruna, an Albanian pediatrician, for her workamong the refugees, despite Serbian threats of physical injury to her. When she escaped over the border,she hid her passport and cell phone in a baby's diaper, and got through unscathed. "No man would everlook for it there!," said Cokie.

Chairman of the NAAC (National Albanian American Council) Ilir Zherka said funds raised willhelp rebuild Kosovar medical rooms, assist grief and rape counseling groups, and help cover basic needssuch as food and clothing for the refugees.


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