- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2001

Beautiful weather, delicious food, great dancing and above-average grades in glamour made last Friday´s gala at the National Museum of Women in the Arts one of the season´s hot tickets.

Add an interesting mix of VIPs from business, politics, diplomacy and the arts, top it off with a few royals, and the event approached knockout status — even for the most gala-weary guests. (Charity circuiteers can´t wait to close their checkbooks and get out of town for the summer.)

The evening´s "From Sea to Shining Sea" theme must have struck the right chord with various Republicans awaiting nomination or confirmation for Bush administration diplomatic posts. At least three were in the crowd, including former Republican National Committee head Jim Nicholson, a sure thing for the Vatican; real estate developer Stuart Bernstein, whose nomination for Denmark has been announced; and party fund-raiser Nancy Brinker, supposedly heading to Budapest.

"It could be Texas; it could be nothing. I´m staying absolutely mum," Mrs. Brinker said before moving seamlessly to safer subjects such as her backless Vera Wang gown and beaded Badgley Mischka bag, both purplish in hue.

Early arrivals got to wander through the exhibition of Grandma Moses´ works (her naive Americana is very much en vogue again) or sip cocktails in the extensive silent-auction area on the top floor. After dinner was announced by trumpets, it was down to the Great Hall for a military color-guard presentation, a singalong to patriotic songs performed by members of the Choral Arts Society and an "All American" meal of seafood cocktail, barbecued rack of lamb with macaroni and cheese (which tasted a lot better than it sounds), fresh veggies, salad and, for dessert, a minibasket of mixed berries with chocolate truffles.

There was plenty of political chat at the top tables where gala co-chairwomen Rae Forker Evans and Penny Yerks, museum founders Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay and museum Director Nancy Risque Rohrbach sat with many of the notable guests, including Sens. Jim Bunning and Bill First; Reps. Tom Udall, Clay Shaw and Edward Markey; former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and his wife, Janet Langhart (who just bought a house in McLean but are keeping their downtown apartment as a pied-a-terre); Andy Stewart, widow of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart; German Ambassador Juergen and Magda Chrobog; former Sen. Paul and Carol Laxalt; Fred and Marlene Malek, Karen Fuller; Dorothy and Leonard Marks; Mary Mochary; and Climis and Carol Lascaris.

Sitting inconspicuously in a far corner was the evening´s most exalted guest, Princess Margarita, eldest daughter of ex-King Michael of Romania, who could ascend to the throne one day if the Romanian people ever are allowed to vote on restoring the monarchy. For now, the princess is focusing on her personal foundation, which supports educational, cultural and human welfare causes in her homeland. Things have come a long way, she said, from the days when her family was forbidden to enter Romania. Not only have all restrictions on their movements been lifted, but her father also has had three confiscated properties restored to him, including Bucharest´s Elizabetta Palace, the very place from which he was exiled by the communists in 1948.

"We stayed there when it was a hotel," the princess said, "and now they´ve given us back the keys."

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