When a party is going to be a hit, a big success, you know it the moment you walk in the door. When a party is going to be a super hit, a blockbuster, you know it before you walk in the door. There’s something in the air, almost tangible. As you step inside, you say to yourself I’m so happy to be here — and everybody else is saying the same thing. If you think this happens at every party — but of course you don’t. You know it doesn’t. Some are good, some aren’t, very, very few are great. Most New York parties are charity dos, fund-raisers in a ballroom. They are all for a good cause, of course, and more power to them. But most of them follow the same pattern; at many of them the speeches are too many and too long. You sit there wondering what time it is, and why the orchestra is playing loud enough to split your skull, precluding all conversation. A wonderful private party is hard to come by.
That’s why Carol and George McFadden’s stupendous private party, a dinner-dance for 120 guests at their magnificent townhouse the other night was one of the greatest, maybe the greatest of 2014. This is the one all parties given in the year 2015 will have to measure up to. Well, lots of 2015 luck.
To be perfect, a party needs all the right ingredients. First the setting. The McFadden house is one the biggest and most beautiful houses in Manhattan. It was built in 1929 by the Sloans of the furniture fortune, and nothing was spared to make it a showplace. The rooms are huge; the ceilings are lofty. When Carol and George bought the house, they spared nothing to make it wondrous to behold. It took something like three years, and it was worth every minute of it.
Avi Adler, the famous party decorator who has been called “a genius with flowers,” worked his magic for the night. Every room and every table was decorated differently, the yellow room all in yellow, the blue all in blue, the green in green. He had painted beautiful climbing white and green flowers on the dining room walls climbing from the floor to the ceiling. There were all sizes of imaginably arranged pumpkins from tiny to enormous, on floors, on walls, hanging from the ceilings, everywhere. Where there were no pumpkins there were sunflowers, small, medium and very big, many of them arranged in fantastic, shaped centerpieces. The lovely hostess even wore a necklace of sunflowers that Avi Adler made for her to go with her Tomasz Starzewski black dress.
Everyone was there — Prince Pavlos of Greece and the exquisite Princess Marie Chantal; her exquisite sister Pia Getty; Carolina (in black paillettes) and Reinaldo Herrera; Duane Hampton with Monte Hackett; Allison and Peter Rockefeller; George McFadden’s sister Mary and his daughter Lisa; Liz and Damon Mezzacappa; Gigi and Roone Arledge; the investment baker Julian Robertson and his wife, Josie; Eugenie and John Radziwill; Carroll Petrie; Charles Stevenson; Minna and Dru Montague, and Mica and Ahmet Ertegun.
Seated at dazzling tables and lolling against satin cushions on the dining room banquettes were such worthies as Venezuelan billionaire Gustavo Cisneros and his wife, Patty; Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill; Nina Griscom Baker and Dr. Dan Baker; Lana and Nicky Forstman; Barbara and Henryk de Kwiatkowski; Barbara and Bobby Liberman; Gail and Parker Gilbert; Jessie and Rand Araskog; Hamish Bowles; Nan and Tommy Kempner; Catie and Donald Marron; Taki Theodoracopulos; Marina and Francesco Galesi; Vivian and Guy Wyser-Pratt; Kenneth Jay Lane, and Barbie and Tommy Bancroft.
To say nothing of Jamee and Peter Gregory; Lisa Ford; Mario Buatta (who with Carol McFadden was responsible for the interior design of the superb house); Katherine Bryan; Johnny Galliher; Jamie Niven; Gigi Mortimer; Hilary Geary; Sophie and George Coumantaros, and on and on into the night.
For dinner, purveyed by Glorious Food, there was souffle of trout with sauteed spinach, lamb chops with tiny pureed peas and watercress and chocolate cake with hot chocolate sauce and a vanilla bombe. Champagne, sparkling like silver stars, was poured from Methuselahs. A Methuselah, of course, holds six and a half quarts — but you knew that.
So now, Bob Hardwick and his orchestra played on the second floor landing for the dancing, and it was one in the morning before the thrilled and delighted finally left. What the evening’s celebration was about was a farewell to the incomparable house, which has just been sold. The McFaddens are moving to another house, equally beautiful they hope, as soon as they can find one. Maybe then they’ll give a move-in house party, but will it be as great as the bye-bye one? I don’t see how.