Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A book party and dinner to follow

Before the rains came in Tribeca. Photo: JH.
A warm and cloudy spring day; an early morning spritz and a mid-evening torrential downpour to wash the streets and roadways of New York.

First stop last night: Tina Brown, Vicky Ward, and La Mer hosted a book party for Susan Nagel at the Brown-Evans apartment off Sutton Place. Ms. Nagel is the author of “Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: the Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter.”

Marie-Therese, named for her grandmother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, was imprisoned with her brother the Dauphin and her mother and father, the King and Queen of France in the early 1790s after the fall of the monarchy.

Susan Nagel holding her book. Click to order.
Her father and mother were beheaded at the guillotine ten months apart in January and October of 1793. Two years later, Marie-Therese, their only surviving child escaped from Paris’ Temple prison and from France.

Many believed that the teen-age princess, traumatized by her prison experience, switched identities after her escape with a contemporary who was Louis XVI’s illegitimate child (by one of the maids in the royal household at Versailles).

The rumors of her whereabouts began right after the escape. Many believed she lived out her life in a castle in Germany where she was known as “the Dark Countess” while her “sister” played the role of the surviving princess  on the political stage of Europe.

The princess (or her half-sister/imposter) later married her cousin, son of her father’s brother, the Count d’Artois -- who betrayed his brother, the girl’s father  -- and later became Charles X upon the restoration of the throne. There was a brief moment (20 minutes to be exact) when the girl became the Queen of France after the death of her father-in-law.

The truth about the child’s life has been a much speculated upon mystery for two centuries. Author Nagel, however, with the assistance of handwriting samples and DNA testing, along with a cache of Bourbon family letters, solves this mystery in her new book.
Susan Nagel and Tina Brown
Marc Hubert, Hadley Nagel, and Lindsay Smith
For those of us who remain fascinated by the history of the Bourbons and the deluge after the fall of the monarchy, “Marie-Therese” is a page turner that ranks right up there with Antonia Fraser’s “Marie Antoinette” and Amanda Foreman’s “Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire.” Nagel’s gripping narrative captures the events of her life from her very public (literally) birth at Versailles to her unreal suffering in prison, the loss of her parents through institutionalized murder and her eventual reincarnation in the public eye as a saint.

Among the guests at the Brown/Ward book party: Catherine Saxton, Elburron Kimmelman, Brian Antoni (author of the newly published “South Beach”) Jeffrey Leeds,  Manhattan D. A. Robert Morgenthau, Olivia nad Warren Hoge, Christine Schwarzman,  Richard and Sessa Johnson, Kalliope Karella, Bronson Van Wyck, Nadine Johnson,Tory Burch, Chris Cuomo, Rufus Albemarle, Boykin Curry , Celerie Kemble, Lela Rose, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Jessica Joffe, Rebecca Guinness, Jaime Johnson, Ghislaine Maxwell, Peter Som, Paula Zahn.
Susan Nagel, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, Harry Evans, and Vicky Ward
Brian Antoni, Catherine Saxton, and Elbron Kimmelman
Olivia Hoge, Susan Nagel, and Warren Hoge
Nadine Johnson, Bronson Van Wyck, Christina Wayne, and Frederick Carlton
Patrick McMullan, Sessa Johnson, Vicky Ward, and Richard Johnson
Christine Schwarzman and friend talking to Kalliope Karella
From the bookparty I went across town to 55th and Broadway to the new Brasserie Cognac where Susan Gutfreund and Richard Turley were giving a dinner for forty in honor of their friend, fashion designer Ralph Rucci. Mr. Rucci, an independent (rather than a corporate owned) American designer who shows in Paris, is the premiere interpreter of classic American chic today. His hostesss, Mrs. Gutfreund is also the interior designer who is refurbishing his Upper East Side penthouse.

  Vittorio Assaf, Rita Jammet, and Eric Ripert
The Brasserie Cognac which has not quite opened to the public had its inaugural last night. Owned by Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato, the creators of the Serafina group of restaurants (one of them is diagonally across Broadway from Cognac) is warm and classic like the work of last night’s guest of honor.

The guest list was a mix of social, fashion and the Italians (which could fit in any of the categories): Andre and Rita Jammet, owners Caravelle restaurant and creators of the new Caravelle champagne, master chef Eric Ripert and his wife Sandra; John and Susan Gutfreund, Michael and Tara Rockefeller, Sofia Barclay, Lorenzo and Eva Lorenzotti, Jill Fairchild, Charlotte Moss and Barry Friedberg, Roberto and Joanne de Guardiola, Anne Slater, Deeda Blair, Amy Fine Collins, Geoffrey Bradfield, Monique von Vooren, Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Luca and Oluchi Orlandi, Prince Federico Pignatelli, Yaz and Valentin Hernandez, Richard and Sessa Johnson, legendary filmmaker Paul Morrissey, Christine Cachot, Yanna Avis, Eric Villency and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Dr. Ottavio Arancio, Hassim Abdullah, Stanislava Stoyanova, Angela Greuner, Brianna Swanson, Vivek Mathur, Luisana Mendoza and Jimmy Rodriguez.
Fabio Granato, Stanislava Stoyanova, and Michael Rockefeller
Ralph Rucci
Charlotte Moss, Paul Morrissey, and Anne Slater
Richard Johnson and Eva Lorenzotti
bartenders Raul Cordero and Ben DeMarchelier
Angela Greuner, Vittorio Assaf, and Brianna Swanson
Hilary Ross, Ottavio Arancio, and Deeda Blair
Christine Cachot and Hassim Abdullah
Geoffrey Bradfield and Sessa Johnson
Katie, Eric, and Sandra Ripert
Amy Fine Collins, Jimmy Rodriguez, and Rita Jammet
Luisana Mendoza and Valentin Hernandez
Wilbur Ross and Susan Gutfreund
Tara Rockefeller, John Gutfreund, and Yanna Avis
Luca and Oluchi Orlandi with Prince Frederico Pignatelli
Kimberly Guilfoyle and Wilbur Ross
Roberto de Guardiola and Barry Friedberg
Manager, Oliver Woodhead
Host Richard Turley
Andre Jammet, Joanne de Guardiola, and Eric Villency
Sofia Barclay and Vivek Mathur

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