Before Elton John gets around to giving his fifth summer ball next summer, let’s talk about his fourth one this summer, the famous “White Tie and Tiara” party that draws every celebrity, moneybags and social figure for leagues around and then some. No matter what you’ve heard about this glamorous, spectacular evening, given with Elton’s partner, David Furnish — that it was of a splendor seldom seen at Elton’s wonderful country house in Surrey, “Woodside,” which is gorgeous, that the gardens are breathtaking, that the dinner was divine and that the entertainment is incomparable — not at all. Believe me, it was better than that.
Sir Elton is simply a great host as well as a great philanthropist. This ball, a dazzle a minute, is also a fund-raiser responsible for the millions that support the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Much of it derived from an exciting auction where rich folks at the party aggressively outbid one another for such prizes as an Audi TT Roadster and a just-minted Bentley.
Most of the guests motored from London to the country in fancy cars, but Lily Safra of banking billions hired a motor coach to transport her guests to and fro. Wearing a chiffon dress the color of moonlight, Lily invited such friends to join her as handsome young Lord Rothermere, the media tycoon; his pretty sister Geraldine; Marina Palma in bare black and big shiny rings; Blaine and Robert Trump; Robert Higdon; Joan Rivers, and the Italian aristocrat-politician-life-of-the-party Mario D’Urso, who kicked up his legs, literally — he was having such fun, Italian-style.
Many of the guests have been to some big towns and heard them some big talk, but when the genial host threw open the gates of Woodside, it was hard for them not to drop a jaw at the sight — one of the most spectacular garden parties ever. The beautifully kept grounds go on forever with fountains and gazebos and mini-lakes and countless plants and flowers. A long gravel road leads to the manor house itself and that too is a lovely English sight to see. Right now seems to be the time to mention that the theme of the party was Imperial Russia, very Imperial Russia. Since Vladimir Putin’s recent state visit to the U.K., anything and everything Russian seems the way to go.