- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2000

Each year's Corcoran Ball gets called "the most beautiful ever," but this time around, it wasn't just hyperbole or press-release puffery.

The exotic Turkish theme, based on the new exhibit "Palace of Gold & Light: Treasures From the Topkapi, Istanbul," inspired a garden-of-delights setting, especially in the vast marble atrium, where soft lights, elaborate floral centerpieces and six towering royal palms ("made from real fronds, not plastic or polyester," according to Nina Pillsbury) had a spectacular effect.

"A hundred women's little fingers were at work," effused Giselle Theberge, citing the personal participation of the Women's Committee in putting together "the most loving ball in town."

Ambassadors, senators, members of the Cabinet and Old Guard social notables dallied at choice tables near the orchestra or upstairs in the Rotunda, where billowing fabrics, masses of candles and perfumed air (probably more from the ladies' scents than the flowers) evoked the haremlike atmosphere of an old Ottoman palace.

Fashion also was on parade at what traditionally is a "Who are you wearing?" sort of night.

JoAnn Mason, in a black-and-white Ralph Lauren number, made a particular splash, as did Pamela Peabody, wearing elegant pastel shades by Christian Lacroix. Lolo Sarnoff's fabulous art-deco Lalique necklace turned a few heads. Ditto the ruby-red gown made to order for Mrs. Pillsbury by designer Pilar Rossi.

And the husbands?

"I'm wearing Brooks Brothers," Philip Pillsbury said.

Many of the 1,280 guests sprang for the dance floor in between courses of salmon, rack of lamb and a gilded chocolate-and-orange marquis, with Bob Hardwick's orchestra and the rock 'n' rolling Hubcaps keeping things lively 'til midnight.

Ball proceeds, estimated at $500,000, didn't break records but were sufficient to fund the committee's scholarship and community outreach programs as well as a few assorted "nuts and bolts," which ball chairwoman Robin Evans said would include the reframing of Winslow Homer's "A Light on the Sea" and the purchase of several Wayne Thibaud prints.

Sold out two months in advance, tickets were impossible to come by later on, even for some of the new high-tech moguls willing to pay a hefty (minimum) $750 per couple.

That didn't bother gallery director David Levy in the slightest. "Next year," he said, "we have to raise the price."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide