In The Magazine

Cheers To The Year

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
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December in New York sparkles, charms and warms like no other time of year. By now you may be immersed in cocktail parties, shopping confusion and frenzy, the improbable but momentarily allowed riot of red, green, silver, blue and everything that glistens, and mostly—hopefully—a special moment with your friends and family. Till then, though . . . some memories of the most magical moments that led up to now.

Magic and castles go hand in hand, especially when the occasions are so glorious. The first event, at that rare and wonderful place, California’s Hearst Castle, for the 7th Annual Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation Benefit Weekend, hosted by William Randolph Hearst’s granddaughter Anne and her husband, Jay McInerney. While the castle is the biggest revenue producing California state park, it needs to raise money to restore and protect its artifacts, and that’s what this weekend does. Spearheaded by Anne’s California friends—Edith and Joe Tobin, Justine and Robert Bloomingdale, Kathy and Greg Hampton, Katrina and Michael Berube and Paula and Anthony Peck—she was also joined by East Coast fans, including Robert ZimmermanElisabeth de Kergorlay, Felicia Taylor, and Zang Toi (who was fetching in his formal white kilt), and folks from further out like Pierre Lagrange (London, the home of his bespoke menswear company Huntsman; said clothes hung beautifully on Tony Peck’s shoulders, as they once did on his dad, Gregory) and Remar Sutton (Denmark). History and splendor abounded: I stayed in the Senator’s House (WRH’s father was, in fact, a senator), we explored a fraction of the 425,000 acres, communed with the seals and zebras (descendants of his original menagerie), swam in the Roman Pool, walked under the Pergola, kayaked off the site’s 50 miles of oceanfront property, dined formally in the Refectory, danced on the Terrace, hoedowned at the Dairy Barn, and finished up with a concert by Judy Collins that had us tearing up, singing along and worshipping her better-than-ever talent.

My tiara had traveled just weeks before to perhaps the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended. Nicky Hilton married James Rothschild in a small, elegant, heartfelt and magnificent ceremony in his London home. There was no press allowed (thus my late but finally allowed report), though you may have seen pictures, as the paparazzi oozed through hedges and crammed the pavement outside Claridge’s. Aidan Barclay and his wife, Fizzy, started the week with a very small dinner at the Ritz (he happens to own it) for Kathy and Rick Hilton, proud parents of the bride. Next up, an elegant cocktail party at Spencer House. James’s mother, Anita Guinness Rothschild Wigan, graciously introduced the out-of-towners to all. I had a great chat with her sister, Sabrina, when I spied one of my idols. “Oh my, isn’t that Tom Stoppard?” I exclaimed. “Yes, in fact, it is! He’s my husband!” she said. And so it went, the beautiful, the titled, the accomplished (and that was just immediate family): it would be tawdry to list the names, because all eyes and hearts were on the lovely couple. Nicky glided down the aisle at Kensington Palace’s Orangery in a dazzling Valentino Haute Couture ivory, guipure lace gown, surrounded by her bridesmaids in icy blue chiffon Dennis Basso dresses, and precious flower girls in Marie-Chantal. Her cousin, Whitney Davis, sang a flawless, a capella “Lean on Me”, followed by the nonreligious service—meaningful, modern and memorable. At the flower-filled, glowing tent afterwards, Rick Hilton toasted to his daughter, and new son-in-law, who when asked about, Rick says “I can honestly say he’s terrific!” At each table were pictures of the couple, cleverly placed by James’s best friend (and best man) from childhood. Finally, the groom’s toast was so tender and adoring of his bride, it brought tears to our eyes, and there was not a daughter’s mother there, who didn’t wish for the same loving, fairy-tale wedding for her own little girl.


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