In The Magazine

Glamour Will Never Die!

by R. Couri Hay Photographed by Vera Wang, Lisa Jackson
Tuesday, December 27, 2016


“Gossip and parties,” said Aileen Mehle, when I asked her what the secret of her endless joie de vivre was at a fete given by her friend Cornelia Guest, who confided, “She was like my sister, mother and grandmother all in one.” Aileen was 96 at the time and still the sassy glamour puss she was when she was the Queen of Gossip. Everything I know about being a society columnist I learned from Aileen, aka Suzy Knickerbocker. From 1999 until her last column in 2005, I studied alongside this Goddess of Gossip. “Write it like you’re telling me a story over dinner and make it sound terribly fancy and rich,” she purred; adding, “Don’t always gush—you don’t need to like everything.” Alieen once confessed, “I stick in the needle, pull it out fast and then rub the wound.” She also taught me the artof writing in “Suzyesque”, and how to finish an item with a witty flourish. Some of my favorite Suzy-isms were “I can wait if you can” and “Paris is a city of tops and bottoms. Did I just write that?” something she once asked rhetorically in her column. (Actually, I wrote that one and never thought she’d use it: she did.) From the White House (the Reagans loved her), to Buckingham Palace (Prince Charles and Camilla adored her), she knew where all the bodies were buried and who buried them. Despite the fact that she lived out her life in two extravagant ballrooms decorated by her pal Mario Buatta, she told me, “I write for the straphangers.”She also said, “Glamour will never die: it’s the fun and spice of life.” Amen. Aileen lived and loved like her friends and the people she wrote about, unlike her counterpart, the late photojournalist Bill Cunningham, who literally lived like a monk who slept on a hard cot. What they had in common was a gift to inspire. They were also both philanthropists because the benefits they covered were the better for it. When either of them walked into a room, you knew your party was on the right map. Although, as Aileen sagely taught me, “I don’t have to be there to be there.” N’est ce pas? Aileen was also generous financially and gave to American Ballet Theatre, where, along with her friend Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, she was a chairman of their annual gala. I always wanted her to write a book, but she laughed and said, “I’m taking what I know with me.” Mrs. Mehle, who was once married to Rear Admiral Roger Mehle, died this fall at 98 in the arms of Mary, her beloved housekeeper.“Who else would tell you these things?” as Suzy always said. RIP.


Angelina Jolie has blood on her face, but Brad didn’t do it! A rare print of Angelina with Blood, which features the star with plasma dripping from her mouth, was the talk of Art Miami. Nick Korniloff, the fair’s founder, said, “Angelina posed for Martin Schoeller’s remarkable ‘Close Up’ series in 2003.” The photographer himself said, “I always felt that the face was the most essential part about a person.” Maybe Brad is cleansing his collection of all marital mementos.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s May Ball and exhibition, “Rei Kawakubo and the Art of the In-Between,” will be its next blockbuster, but in the interim, Andrew Bolton, the new curator in charge, and assistant curator, Jessica Regan, have mounted a stunning exhibition dubbed “Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion at the Met.” This staggeringly sensual show features 60 iconic pieces by 37 designers who have advanced fashion as an art form. This list is topped by the incomparable Charles James and also includes Dior, Chanel, Versace, Balenciaga, Vionnet, Saint Laurent, Alaïa, Worth, McQueen, Galliano, Lagerfeld, and my ex-fiancée, punk forerunner Zandra Rhodes. Anna Wintour led the fashionable parade of Deeda Blair, Harold Koda, Laurie Tisch, Jennifer Creel, June Ambrose, Alessandra Facchinetti,Wendi Murdoch, James Reginato, Eric Boman, Eric Schlesinger and others of that ilk and stripe to the chic opening in her eponymously named Costume Center and the ritzy after party at the Temple of Dendur. The show ends on February 5.


Audrey Gruss, the founder of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation (HDRF), presented Anderson Cooper with the Advocacy Award for shining a spotlight on depression and suicide through the life of his brother, Carter Cooper, who committed suicide at 23. Anderson mused about young people he’s met saying, “I’m always suspicious of a young kid who tells me they want to be a politician. I think you should be a real person before you become a fake one.” Leading the applause were the event co-chairs Margo Langenberg, Jay McInerney, Susan Gutfreund, Peter Gregory, Eleanora Kennedy, Arthur Dunnam, Bonnie Pfeifer Evans, Caroline Dean, Tania Higgins and Farah Moinian. Chuck Scarborough was the master of ceremonies of this thought-provoking luncheon and seminar. Also in the mix were Martin Gruss, Jamee Gregory, Mai Harrison,Yaz Hernandez, Sharon Loeb, Carol Mack, Tom Quick, Scott Snyder, Patty Raynes, Nancy Silverman and Robert Zimmerman, as well as Cheri Kaufman and Princess Katherine of Serbia, who both received kudos for their Lifeline NY benefit to raise funds for medical supplies in the princess’ country.


Sharon Bush hosted the opening of the New York Art, Antique & Jewelry Show that toasted her daughter Lauren Bush Lauren and her FEED Foundation. The fair’s CEO Scott Diament gave a check to Lauren to provide 90,000 meals to hungry children. Among the collectibles shown were Jacqueline Kennedy’s diamond and sapphire brooch and Nancy Reagan’s lion’s head necklace. Dealers included M.S. Rau,Sabbadini, Pat Saling and Jeff Bridgman, who showed antique flags. Among the attendees were designers Lisa Jackson and Geoffrey Bradfield, Ralph Destino Sr. and Ralph Destino Jr. (aka the Cartier Kid), Liliana Cavendish, attorney Brad Gerstman, Cindy Guyer and luxury vintage clothing dealers Bridgette Morphew and Jason Lyon. 


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