Just when you thought it was safe to jump into the social swim, along come two events with pull big enough to rank society in Los Angeles, yet sized small enough to rankle a lot of egos. Ah ha. Now we are all going to know just how important you really are.
The big questions come with the New Year: Have you received one of those Armani white envelopes in the mail and were you smart enough to reserve your Royal Gala tickets early?
Party One--the Museum of Contemporary Art and Giorgio Armani dinner-dance, with designer Armani's special events coordinator Lee Radziwill (that's as in Princess and Jackie O's sister) and MOCA trustee Jane Nathanson. They're putting together an evening that will include 250 special guests--not a fund-raiser, just a thank-you and a celebration of the arrival of Armani's store in Beverly Hills, scheduled for next September.
A Select 250 Invitees
But only 250 will be invited and seated in the museum, with the art removed for the evening (for insurance purposes--can you imagine what a dollop of a Wolfgang Puck sauce could do to a Klee?) and Armani's spring and summer collection the artsy focus. Date: Jan. 27, with Peter Duchin playing and David Jones doing the design.
A short month later, this royalty-crazed city gets the royal treatment. L.A. gets to carry out its yearning for tiaras when the adorable Duke and Duchess of York make their joint West Coast debut. (Yes, yes, that's the Fergie and Andrew you know and love.)
Arco's Lod Cook and Occidental's Armand Hammer are chairing the Royal Gala on Feb. 28, all part of the winter-into-spring arts festival, UK/LA '88.
British Consul General Donald Ballentyne was clear that despite generous underwritings from Arco, Occidental, British Airways and Cal Fed, money would certainly be needed to help cover the cost of the ambitious festival, which will highlight the best from Britain and L.A. trying to do its best with the British arts. (Running from February through April, it includes a David Hockney exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a new Music Center Opera production of Benjamin Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" directed by Gordon Davidson and a production of "The Mikado" starring Dudley Moore.) The Royal Gala at the Biltmore will also help to boost even higher Cook's "Save the Books" campaign for Los Angeles Central Library--and Cook confided that he would have a "very happy announcement" that night.
The royal couple will be here from Feb. 27 through March 4 (before they go on to Palm Springs for a few quiet days). It is their first visit here since their marriage, and their first "official visit" to the United States. The gala to spotlight them was described by one coordinator as what would be a "royal Hollywood party." If that makes you a little nervous, let's remember that we don't call this Tinseltown for nothing.
The social set is being alerted this week about the gala with individual letters from Cook and from Hammer, explaining the event and the fact that only 200 tickets are available for spots that have "close proximity" to the royal couple. (Not-so-close goes for $5,000 a table, while the $10,000 Royal Circle tables also get the guests invited to a private reception, which could provide yet more proximity to the royals.)
There is no price tag on an invite to the MOCA-Armani--but big social dues should have been paid over the last decades. Radziwill, her list supplemented by suggestions from Nathanson, will be inviting not just from Los Angeles, but also friends from New York and Europe. (Yes, that means even fewer places for the hometown folks.)
Radziwill said that there would be a very short cocktail hour--"perhaps a glass of champagne"--then into the Armani show and on to dinner and dancing. Definitely dancing. Spago's Wolfgang Puck would be cooking up a "three-course dinner. I told him to keep it simple. And Italian," Radziwill said.
In a show of sophisticated quid pro quo , Armani has both underwritten the entire evening and also made what Nathanson termed "a handsome and substantial" contribution to the museum--showing himself ready and willing to become part of the community where his store will be located.
And remember, just make sure that if you don't get one or both of those invites, you're real busy somewhere else.