Byline: Aileen Mehle
One of the flowers of the Windsor pack -- some consider her the flower -- Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, Princess Margaret's absolutely adorable daughter, is getting married in London Thursday to the love of her life, Daniel Chatto, described as handsome, devastating, charming and all those good things. They have been together for several years of high romance. Tomorrow will find them at the altar of that marvelous, round Christopher Wren church, St. Stephen's, Walbrook, sealing their love in a terribly, terribly, terribly private ceremony, not a bit like those other royal weddings of pomp and circumstance. The bride, no stranger to style and chic, will wear a simple dress designed by Jasper Conran with a veil and diamonds in her hair.
Afterwards there will be a reception for 200 of the closest ones in the gardens of granny's London residence, Clarence House -- granny being Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Auntie Elizabeth will be there too -- auntie being Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. You have to invite the family, for heaven's sake. Besides, granny and auntie dote on Sarah, who is pretty hard not to dote on. Sarah's daddy, Lord Snowdon, is coming, as well as her brother, Lord Linley, maker of fine furniture for fine people.
Sarah is an artist who loves literature and music and a minimum of fanfare. She has requested that no wedding gift cost over 30 pounds, and that little books of poetry will be welcome. Unlike some Windsors we could name, she doesn't know the meaning of the word "attitude," which could be one of the reasons she is so loved.
The on dit in Paris has Daniel Day-Lewis and his former flame, Isabelle Adjani, once again incendiary. They originally caught on fire when he was making "My Left Foot," and Isabelle decided she liked his left foot just fine, but was absolutely crazy about the rest of him. The beauteous Adjani will soon be seen on screen in "Queen Margot," based on the Dumas novel. She plays the daughter of Virna Lisi, the Italian sexpot of her day.
By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea in Newport, the old guard -- and the old guard's offspring, because this is a family town -- are preparing themselves for a grand and glorious season. Their way. If the denizens here differ from habituÄs of other exclusive resorts it's simply because true Newporters are born knowing they have nothing to prove. Class is its own reward.
One of the biggest events on Newport's social calendar is the big FÉte Galante set for Aug. 13 in the gardens of Chateau-sur-Mer on famous Bellevue Avenue. You all remember that a fÉte galante was an elaborate amusement of the French aristocracy, who adored retreating into arcadian fantasy during the early 18th century, don't you? It was only later that the French aristocracy found, malheureusement, how really unamusing and non-arcadian things could get.
The fÉte will benefit Newport's Preservation Society, which maintains and restores the resort's historic landmarks.
Chateau-sur-Mer, bien sur, is the perfect place to give a fÉte. Called a summer cottage by the super-rich who flocked to Newport at the turn of the century, it was in reality a lavish villa, as were its neighboring cottage/palaces spread out along Bellevue. Described as "one of the finest examples of lavish Victorian architecture in America," Chateau-sur-Mer was built in 1852 for William S. Wetmore, who made it big in the China trade. In 1872, it was renovated extensively by the prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt. Everyone you talk to in Newport seems terribly proud of the Chinese "Moongate," a part of the house's south wall. Listen, if the old boy made his fortune dealing with the Chinese, why not?
The star of the fÉte will be Frederica von Stade, the delicious mezzo-soprano who has sung in grand opera houses the world over. She will trill in the garden to the delectation of the guests, who will include such worthies as the honorary chairmen, Mrs. Robert H. Charles, known to her fans everywhere as "Oatsie," and Mrs. Samuel M.V. Hamilton. Also expected are the likes of Mrs. James Van Alen, Mrs. John R. Drexel 2nd, Mrs. John R. Drexel 3rd, Countess Anthony Szapary (she's a Vanderbilt), Mrs. William Wood-Prince Mrs. Walter Gubelmann and Mrs. James Gubelmann, Mrs. Wiley Buchanan, Marie-Louise Slocum, Mrs. E. Taylor Chewning (is that name Newport enough for you?), Mrs. Derek Limbocher, Mrs. Claiborne Pell, Mrs. John Winslow, Mrs. John J. Slocum Jr., Hugh D. Auchincloss, Beverly Bogert and a slew of others more or less like them.
Just now all the big houses in Newport are open, and the New York Yacht Club will be celebrating its Sesquicentennial there at the end of July. There will be races, naturally, and dinners and a big party given by Mrs. Walter (Barton) Gubelmann on July 31 for the sailing and racing set. Mrs. Wiley (Ruth) Buchannan is also giving a dance that night, and Irene Aitken beat them both to it when she opened the season on July 1 with a dinner at her lovely house, Champ Soleil. Helen and John Winslow gave their dinner marking the official opening of Bailey's Beach, followed by a dance with Neal Smith's orchestra from Palm Beach supplying the music.
Annenberg heiress Evie Hall has just bought the Jelke House. Her sister, Jan Hooker, already owns Fairholme, once the summer hangout of the late Anita Young. Beverly Bogert is at his house, Anglesea, and gives lunches on his tiny private island, called Gooseberry, of all cute things. There will be another big debut in the Slocum family on Aug. 6, and please don't forget the Croquet Ball at the end of September -- if you can hold out that long.
Meanwhile, there are Slocums and Cushings and Drexels and Pells under foot, and that's the way Newport likes it.