Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Around Town
with Donna Shor

Spectacular floral arrangements were enjoyed by all at the annual Dutch Flower Reception at the Embassy of the Netherlands residence, where every corner is banked with tulips of amazing variety.  This year, instead of the masses of multicolored blooms, the news was in the stark, high-concept floral arrangements that took center stage, with barely a tulip in sight.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands Boudewijn van Eenennaam and his glamorous blonde wife, Jellie , introduced designer Marcel Wolterinck , whose dramatic designs featured massive “packing” of blossoms.

A minimalist, shallow sculptured white container held a snowy floral blanket built from the massed flower heads of Easter lilies, packed so closely together that they stood upright on their short stems. Another display had layer after layer of calla lilies stacked like shingles on a roof, topped by an enormous globe of white carnations.

Probably the most striking of all were tall, twin constructions of thousands of roses layered 10 high in two tiers, tightly packed between three long
planks covered with deep green and dark red leaves, and resting on tall
inverted pyramids.

Alan J. Lacy, Clarence Page, Eddie N. Williams, Elliott S. Hall and Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.

Alan Novak, Edouard Ettedgui, Darrell Sheaffer, Paul Newman,
Ray Lamontagne, Joshua Bell and Simon Mulligan

In the library, magnificent soft pink tulips stood beside a scroll saying they were a new cultivar, named the “ Laura Bush ” in honor of the First Lady by the flower growers of the Netherlands. Next to them was a photograph of Mrs. Bush holding a bouquet of the namesake blooms presented her during a visit a few days earlier.

 MarcelWolterinck, whose appearance is striking as a rock star's , has established an international reputation as a lifestyle specialist, sort of a Dutch Martha Stewart . He has branched out widely since he and his wife Anja first started a small florist shop 16 years ago not far from The Hague.

Under the Wolterinck aegis are a number of interrelated entities including a collection of art and objects for the home and Wolterinck-designed linens and furniture, a garden design branch, an events-producing section, a catering service, an interior and exterior design center and a publishing arm producing multilingual books, each in four languages, ranging from flower arranging to wedding planning.

Seen in the crowd: Philip and Nina Pillsbury , Baba Groom , Erica Moorehead, Paul and Pat Stern, Giorgio and Anna Maria Via , Mandy Ourisman, Gail Scott and husband Fred Hubig, Aniko Gaal Schott, the ambassadors of Portugal, Lebanon, Malta and Jordan and their wives , Senator John Warner and his new bride Jeanne , the Jan Boyers and Tandy and Wyatt Dickerson .

(A few nights later , at the White House Correspondent's dinner President Bush jokingly singled out Wyatt's son, Time Magazine's John Dickerson , reminding the crowd of 2500 ruefully that John had stumped him at his news conference with the question “What do you consider your biggest mistake since taking office?”)

The Ambassador of Hungary Andras Simonyi and his wife Nada added a touch of paprika to the party with their guest, actor Tony Curtis and his wife Jill . Curtis, the son of Hungarian immigrants, has been busily promoting Hungarian tourism.

A total of thirteen senators and a host of pals needled CBS anchor and “Face The Nation” host Bob Schieffer , either in person or by video, when the American News Women's Club roasted him to a turn at their benefit held at the striking new Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Then, to ease the pain he was given the 2004 Helen Thomas Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The imaginative trophy presented him by Helen is in the shape of a question mark, commemorating every journalist's five “W's”— Who What, Where, When, and Why? It was created by talented local sculptor and arts patron Lolo Sarnoff , whose work can be found in museums and collections here and abroad.


Roasters Larry King and Don Imus got off a few zingers and Maria Shriver twitted him about always “making it easy on her” by taking the big breaking new stories for himself to “spare her embarassment as a beginner.” John McCain applied for a job as assistant to Bob on his talk show, and Dan Rather and Senator Lindsey Graham ragged him on his Texas background.

A copy of Bob's book “This Just In: What I couldn't tell you on TV” was in every guests goodie bag, and that led to a Joe Biden-inspired lineup of ten senators, from Hillary Clinton to Robert Bennett , who did a spoof on the book “The Top Ten Things Bob Couldn't Tell You on TV” culminating with Biden's “revelation” that,“ since 1994, Bob Schieffer hasn't worn pants on “Face the Nation.”

The Georgetown House Tour was the biggest success ever this year, with 12 homes open to visitors: six on Saturday, and another six on Sunday, in a tradition carried on for 80-plus years by St. John's Episcopal Church.

All Georgetown seemed to have turned out for the kickoff cocktail party at the Herbert Millers' majestic home, the historic Bowie-Sevier house, which took the Millers seven years and a fortune to restore. Seen: Harriet and Eric Fraunfelter , Aldie and Dolly Chapins , Carol Joynt , Ed and Betty Emes , Katrina Carothers , Louise and Arnold Sagalyn , and Sandrine Henry , whose mother has an apartment at Versailles.

The chairman was Stephanie Bothwell-Warren and shepherding the whole event was doyenne Frida Burling, chairman emerita , whose handsome home was on the tour, and who is the event's guiding light each year.

Historical footnote: she, as debutante Frida Frazer , was a friend of the young Cassini brothers, Oleg and Igor . Oleg became the famous designer, a favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy, and Igor went on to write the legendary New York society column, “Cholly Knickerbocker.” For his very first column, Igor told the world that he was with Frida at the Chevy Chase Club when she caught the eye of the son of Mussolini, (visiting here in the prewar years) and that she made a great hit with him. The swain returned to Italy before the romance blossomed, but it is fun to speculate that if Mussolini had had an American daughter-in-law, Frida might have changed the course of history!

Count Wilhelm Wachtmeister and his artist wife Ulla, who visited here recently were a popular ambassadorial couple during the many years he represented Sweden in Washington. The party honoring them given by Jan Eliasson , the current Swedish ambassador, brought out many of their old friends.

Wachtmeister's longtime tennis partner, former Under Secretary of the Navy Chuck Baird was there with his wife, Norma , as were Charles and Evelyn di Bona , and former Senator Charles Percy and former Rep. James W. Symington, Chuck Percy with Loraine and James Symington with Sylvia . Others included Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and John O'Connor , Judge William Webster , and the Wachtmeisters' fellow countryman, Count Peder Bonde , who, with his wife Clarissa , honored the couple with a dinner.   

Gert Wingardh and Tomas Hansen , architects of the “House of Sweden,” as the new Swedish embassy will be called, displayed sketches of the building planned to be built on the banks of the Potomac near Harborplace. They term it “a modernistic glass box...whose exterior is clad in screened glass with a layer of wood veneer on glass sheets behind.”

Eliasson praised the transparency of the building because it “will reflect Sweden's desire for openness and dialogue in the most important capital in the world.”

In a very diplomatic arrangement (what else, from an ambassador?), Eliasson moved out of the residence during the weekend so that the Wachtmeister's could move in and relive the time spent there when it was their home. Where did he go? To Sweden, of course for the few days, for a reunion with wife Kerstin , who has been living there during the last six months for her prominent post as deputy minister for higher education and research.

All eyes turned to the doorway of the Historic Georgetown Club at sight of an exotic, marvelously groomed woman in a pale yellow silk suit set off by a stunning spray of diamonds, with another explosion of diamonds curving around her finger. It was Chinese-born Anna Chennault , widow of the Flying Tiger's Claire Chennault of WWII fame, and for many years the frequent companion of the late Tommy “The Cork” Corcoran, whose biography was being celebrated.

The ultimate “fixer,” Corcoran was the first lobbyist on a grand scale who had the ear of presidents; she worked behind the scenes in Asian intrigues, particularly in the Vietnam era, and had the ear of presidents, albeit different ones.

The two of them, along with Tongsun Park , who came to Washington for the party, were the founders of the club where the event was held.

The book, “Tommy the Cork: Washington's Ultimate Insider from Roosevelt to Reagan,” limns Corcoran as a quick-thinking, opportunistic rogue, eager to score major political coups, but also a big-hearted loyal friend, who was a soft touch if a widow needed cash or an orphan needed an education.

Corcoran's financial finagling with the great and near-great, many of whom are still on the scene, makes it hard to put the book down. When it comes to the art of the deal, “The Cork” made Trump look like an amateur.

The well-researched account took seven years to write, said author David Kean , and you wonder how he ever got it done: he is chief of staff to Senator John Kerry .

AROUND AND ABOUT: A rewarding exhibit of paintings by the noted artist Marie-Laurence Gaudrat (“Faces and Landscapes of France”) will continue until June 11 th at the American Association for the Advancement of Science on New York Avenue. Gaudrat, whose painterly canvases glow with light and color, studied both painting and sculpture with such noted masters as Paul Belmondo (father of screen actor Jean-Paul Belmondo ). The A.A.A.S. exhibit follows a month long showing of her paintings at La Maison Francaise…Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan will preside at The Hope Gala on June 14th, said Luma Kawar , wife of the Jordanian ambassador, at the kickoff luncheon for 100 in April at the home of Isabel Ernst . The gala celebrates the partnership of the King Hussein Cancer Center in Amman, Jordan with America's St. Jude Children's Cancer Center to benefit children in both lands...American impressionist Leith Eaton brought from California her “America the Beautiful II” collection. Leith, whose signature style builds a heavily textured surface from thick layers of color, is a tall blonde screenwriter-actress whose collectors include President George Bush , Frank Sinatra , Lilly Pulitzer , Clint Eastwood, Elizabeth Taylor , Jack Nicklaus and Rep. Mary Bono.

Bolivian Ambassador Jaime Aparicio and his wife, Pamela, hosted a lovely farewell dinner at the Bolivian Embassy for Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh and his wife, Indira. The couples became fast friends after they met in, of all places, Iowa on an ambassadorial tour hosted by Senator Chuck Grassley . The Mansingh's returned to India in late May after the ambassador had served a successful three year posting in Washington. He also served in Washington previously as deputy chief of mission from 1989-1992. Seen: Dutch Ambassador Boudewijn Van Eeneenaam and his wife, Jellie ; Chief of Protocol Donald Ensenat and his wife, Taylor ; Rep. Edward Markey and Dr . Susan Blumenthal Ina Ginsburg ; Nora Boustany ; Afghan Ambassador Ishaq Shahryar and his wife, Hafiza; General Wallace H. Robinson and his wife, Renée ; and Arnaud De Borchgrave .

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