Outside the Frick Collection’s Young Fellows Ball last Thursday, torrential rain added to the hothouse feeling of the evening’s theme, Chinosierie. In the covered garden courtyard, tuxedo-clad waiters ferried flutes of Veuve Cliquot and tumblers of the evening’s signature vodka cocktail, The Ginger Dragon. Fittingly, DJ Anton spun his tunes in the Music Room where guests could also partake in a dim sum bar, prompting an event organizer to offer gleefully, “DJ’s and dumplings!” Patrons, soggy but exuberant, took the theme surprisingly literally with chopsticks securing their chignons and Geisha parasols as props rather than rain repellants. One elder man hid his graying coif with a Chinese Noble’s hat replete with an attached dark braid Rapunzel-ing halfway down the back of his tuxedo.
The choices were clear: John Galliano, Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen. The Observer asked society staples, Olivia Chantecaille, Adelina Wong Ettelson and Alexandra Lebenthal to play the after-dinner game, ‘Fuck, marry or kill’
“Ooo, that’s a tough one,” Ms. Chantecaille said thoughtfully, smoothing the silk jersey of her one-sleeved black mock turtle-neck Calvin Klein gown.
“Wait, marry, kill and sleep with?” Adelina Wong Ettelson clarified.
“I’m not playing,” said Jay Diamond, Ms. Lebenthal’s husband, definitively.
Rembrandt’s recently restored self-portrait watched the group arms-crossed from the gallery wall nearby, surveying the entire length of the garden court. “I think I might marry Galliano,” said Ms. Wong Ettelson in a short, beaded, bib-front black and white Valentino.
“Yeah, and I think he would be a good husband. He wouldn’t really get in my way. He would just be drunk, slurring words,” Ms. Wong Ettelson tried to rationalize.
“He’s an anti-Semite.” Mr. Diamond interrupted with visible frustration.
“Yeah, for me that would be an issue.” Agreed Ms. Lebenthal who wore a strapless Marchesa dress whipped into tufts of sea-foam green meringue.
“For me that would be a non-starter,” said Mr. Diamond.
“But then Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen on the other hand?” Ms. Wong Ettelson asked, defending the difficulty of her choice.
“Yeah, there’s really no good option there,” said Ms. Chantecaille.
Ms. Lebenthal asked, “Yeah, aren’t there any other options? Like Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper?” Picky, Picky.
In the neighboring gallery event organizer extraordinaire Bronson van Wyck and interior designer Margot Good felt even more strongly.
“Well, Gaddafi I wanna kill, that’s a no-brainer,” said Ms. Good.
“You should always marry the gay guy, so Galliano,” added Mr. Van Wyck.
“And obviously Charlie Sheen is good in bed, he’s…” Ms. Good paused to find the right word, “…well-versed.”
Entering the Fragonard room muraled in panels of prancing puttis and parasoled reines of the Ancien Regime, Ms. Chantecaille exclaimed, “Oh my God it looks like a breath of spring and summer.” Ms. Wong Ettelson joined her.
“We were just joking that this would be the perfect place to play Clue,” said Ms. Chantecaille. “Wouldn’t it be so much fun!?”
“I would be Miss Peacock,” Ms. Chantecaille decided.
“I would be Colonel Mustard,” volunteered Ms. Wong Ettelson.
“Really? I can see you as Miss Scarlett because you always have the red lips.”
“That’s true,” she agreed thoughtfully.
“This is such a nice room because you almost forget it’s like a monsoon outside,” said Ms. Chantecaille. Ms. Wong-Ettelson huddled under the cover of her Shanghai Tang coat. “I really thought there would be people out there with umbrellas,” she explained, “And there weren’t!”
“I was leaving and my husband ran to get me an umbrella,” Ms. Chantecaille said, “and he came back and was like, ‘Is it inappropriate to go to the Frick event with a Whitney Museum umbrella?’ I was like, ‘I think it’ll be okay. No one will notice.’”
Fashion designer Rachel Roy wasn’t bothered by the weather. Asked how she protected herself from the storm, Ms. Roy shrugged, “I didn’t. It’s just water. Sorry, I don’t care about those things.”
The event co-sponsor posed for photographs in the marble lobby with the group of chairwomen, measuring almost a foot taller than rest of the group. Prematurely blooming Cherry blossoms nestled in two red lacquer vases, more Ikea than Ming Dynasty, flanking either side of the posing host committee.
She wore a pale sea-green wrap dress of her own design, nude Manolo Blahnik pointy toe heels and carried a colorful Judith Leiber clutch. Covering the head of the purse with her palm while clutching it, it was only when Ms. Roy held up the bejewelled minaudiere that one could recognize it as Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu God of Beginnings and Obstacles.
“I’m Indian, I wasn’t not gonna get the Ganesh!” She joked.
But despite the most successful sartorial efforts, undoubtedly the best-dressed of all was Ingres’ Comtesse d’Haussonville, who in her hyacinth blue taffeta, observed the revelry with resolution. Of course, she had seen it all before.
Edited by Daisy Prince