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Dispatches from the Americas Society spring gala, the inaugural gala for the Partnership for Public Service, plus a preview of the Washington Opera Ball.

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America the Beautiful * Who’s the Toniest? * Opera’s Pink Lady

In the vast soaring tent at Lincoln Center, the Americas Society — instituted to foster friendship and relations between North and South America (and including powerful dignitaries and prestigious diplomats from both continents) — gave its 23rd Annual Spring Party, inviting 600 guests. It honored Gustavo Cisneros, the billionaire Venezuelan industrialist, with its Gold Medal recognizing his great contribution to the social fabrics and economic welfare of the Americas. He has been a champion of democracy for many years and he heard honorary chairman David Rockefeller, former president Bill Clinton and the chairman of the society, William Rhodes, praise this dedication to democracy and a free press from the podium.

Some New Yorkers are used to galas, dazzle, glamour and gorgeous decors. They’ve been to ever so many “marvelous parties” and think they’ve seen it all. The Society’s spring party was all of that and more.

This fantastic decor was the work of Avi Adler, the party designer who’s responsible for some of the most beautiful decorations in New York.

For the cocktail hour, the tent was turned into a rich fantasy, a verdant oasis, a tropical jungle bathed in golden light that shone through the tent’s ceiling. Custom-made ottomans were upholstered in mossy green and the lush floral pieces were arrays of rare orchids, flowering bromeliads and weeping tropical leaves and foliage. Elegant bamboo trees 15 feet tall towered above, filtering the golden “sunlight” through leaves and stalks. A series of painted panels of greenery divided the cocktail “jungle” from the dining room, keeping it a surprise until dinnertime when those green panels magically slid aside, revealing a glowing room of hot pinks and radiant oranges. The dining table centerpieces were a fantasy garden of bright hot colors — half pink and half orange — enhanced with custom-made wooden square bases filled with hot pink or hot orange sand from which a riot of Gerber daisies rose.

The guests danced all night. Two dance floors floated within the sea of tables, one orange and the other hot pink. Huge scrims hung overhead creating a canopy above each dance floor. Sammy Goz, imported from Paris with his orchestra, played for the dancing. Hot, hot, hot! Also caliente, caliente, caliente!
David Rockefeller was the honorary chairman of the evening and among the co-chairmen was the beautiful blonde Mrs. Gustavo (Patty) Cisneros in a cobwebby black lace top by Valentino and a long black silk skirt by Donna Karan. Other co-chairmen included Nancy and Henry Kissinger, Emilia and Pepe Fanjul, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Dr. and Mrs. Carlos Fuentes, Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, the William McDonoughs and Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo. The junior co-chairmen were Eliza and Alexander Bolen, Adriana Cisneros and Alejandro and Andres Santo Domingo. Among the 600 were 20 diplomats from Latin America and Canada, including the vice president of Argentina, Daniel Scioli.

Not to be missed were the Venezuelan beauties Annabella Siso, Carolina Herrera, Carolina Fonseca, Olguita Nunnez, Margarita Blohm, Ana Maria Boulton and Antonietta Lopez. Another beauty present was Mila Mulroney, the wife of former prime minister of Canada Brian Mulroney. Present and accounted for were Lord and Lady Rothschild, Jacqui and Paul Desmarais, Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, Mica and Robert Mosbacher, the former president of Uruguay Luis Alberto Lacalle, Donna and Bill Acquavella, Lynn Nesbit, Louise and Henry Grunwald, Angelica and Neil Rudenstine (he is the former president of Harvard), Lee Bollinger (who is president of Columbia University), Duarte Pinto Coelho here from Spain, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States Cesar Gavia, Placido Arango, Barbara Walters, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Claudine and George Pereira, Cristina Macaya, Patty and Gustavo’s daughters, Adriana Cisneros with her English beau, the successful writer Nicholas Griffin (his latest book “Caucasus: In the Wake of Warriors,” just came out) and Carolina Cisneros with her husband, Alberto Rodriguez, and hundreds of others too hot and caliente to mention.

The Tony Awards fashion time is rolling around again, and the question isn’t just who will win but what everyone will be wearing. Edie Falco has chosen a black Badgley Mischka V-neck gown with a dramatic V back, complete with a train and Harry Winston jewels. Oh, you Carmela Soprano! Bernadette Peters will be dressed in a sassy black Donna Karan and Marissa Jaret Winokur will appear in a handpainted Zac Posen creation with ruffles. Nothing goes with Zac Posen better than a little Hairspray! American Theatre Wing chairman Isabelle Stevenson will wear forest green chiffon with bugle beads designed by the French designer Torani. Twyla Tharp will be “Movin’ Out” in style in a black Nicole Miller above-the-knee number with a mosaic pattern. The dress was originally long but dancers’ legs need to be shown, so off came the bottom. Miller is also dressing nominee Kathryn Meisle and presenter Lynn Redgrave. Watch for them all on Sunday and may the best dressed win.


George Stephanopoulos, the cutie, was the emcee and helped raise $2 million for the Partnership for Public Service at its inaugural gala at Cipriani. Add this to the $25 million grant the chemicals mogul Samuel Heyman gave to the partnership, which encourages young people to go into public service, and you have quite a kickoff. Awards were given to Paul Volcker of the Federal Reserve Volckers and “West Wing” stars John Spencer and Dule Hill on behalf of their Emmy Award-winning show. Donna Summer entertained the thousand guests, among them Ted Sorenson, Jamie Niven and Carol and Earl Mack, oh, and Sen. Chuck Schumer.


Arnold Scaasi designed the pink ball gown Betty Scripps Harvey will wear to the Washington Opera Ball Saturday night along with her parure of rubies and diamonds. The ball will take place at the residence of the Ambassador of France Jean-David Levite, and his wife, Marie-Cecile. Betty is the general chairwoman of the ball, for which she has raised an incredible $3 million, the most in the history of the Washington Opera. Betty’s pink dress will go prettily with the incredible Belle Epoque ballroom decorated by Philip Baloun in cerise and pink. The Levites have risen to the occasion and arranged for 20 men in black velvet livery and white powdered wigs to be at the doors of their residence on Kalorama Road to greet the 550 guests. They’ve also arranged for a son et lumiera spectacle to be projected on the front of the residence along with 2,500 candles lining the drive up to the house. Quelle luxe!