The odds were all against Prince Amyn Aga Khan who was hosting his third annual gala dinner of the “Friends of the Domaine de Chantilly”, to benefit the future Meissen-Chantilly exhibition, designed by Peter Marino. The strikes in Paris, the rain all afternoon, slowed down the arrival of the 288 guests who had travelled from Germany, the US, Italy, Colombia and Great Britain for a fabulous evening organized by Nathalie Brunel and Fabienne de Sèze with Patricia Kim and chaired by Katharine J. Rayner. And everyone left feeling so privileged!
All true pleasures require a long quest. And when Alice Goldet, Kate de Rothschild, Laura Lindsay, Chancellor Xavier Darcos, arrived after a long drive from Paris, they were immediately drowned in Laurent-Perrier pink champagne and served the most exquisite little appetizers prepared by Lenôtre. The theme of the evening was to reproduce the Prince de Condé’s 1671 sumptuous reception for Louis XIV but this time, Guillaume Gomez, the chef at the Elysée palace, replaced François Vatel and he had no need to commit suicide because the dinner was a complete success. He said amusingly: “President Macron is at the U.N. so I am at liberty to come and cook in Chantilly”.
Every year, the decor is different and this time, dinner was served in the paintings galleries with a light concert of baroque music in the Jardin de la Volière. Venetian gondolas arrived at sunset with musicians on board and all the guests were mesmerized by the beauty of the scene with the famous race course and stables in the background. French horns were blown by Alessandro Orlando and Nina Daigremont from Concert de la Loge, followed by arias by Vivaldi, Rameau, Telemann, Carpentier, all evening long.
Chancellor Xavier Darcos, who is now in charge of Chantilly for the Institut de France, told me: “When you have been (twice) Minister of Education, no task however difficult, seems impossible”, and running this amazing park and art collection is his new challenge. Between a bite of artichoke en velouté with roasted ceps and spiced duck, we commented on the diverging qualities of Château Canon 2005 (which I preferred) and Château Rauzan-Ségla 2008. At the center of the tables, Meissen china was surrounded by Eric Chauvin‘s flowers and the ballet of Lenôtre waiters reminded us all of old times. All of this facing Poussin and Corot amazing paintings!
Amin Jaffer, the curator of the Al Thani collection was in Paris for the opening at MAD of the Maharajah of Indore’s collections. He was wearing amazing jewelry on his arms, Indian style, and Gonzague Mézin who runs Lignereux decorative arts was admirative. Andres Echavarria, the father of the talented designer of Magnetic Midgnight, Lucia Echavarria, had come from Bogota and Lilian Rossi di Montelera from Lucca.
Neighbors of Chantilly like Ernest Antoine and Antoinette Seillière, Hélie, Duc de Noailles, Pascal and Michelle Ravery and Christian Langlois Meurinne were chatting away with the numerous Christie’s and Sotheby’s experts who surrounded Maryvonne Pinault, the faithful Friend. Frédéric Mitterrand, the film director, writer and former Minister of Culture, was as affectionate as ever and mentioned having finished writing a new book this summer.
Mathieu Deldicque, curator of the “Nude Mona Lisa” exhibition, was entertaining the guests as Princesse Minnie de Beauvau Craon, Prince and Princesse Stanislas Poniatowski, Prince and Princesse Antoine de Broglie, were all enjoying themselves, reminiscing about their coming out parties a few years ago. The young crowd, with Princesse Amélie de Bourbon Parme, was enjoying this luxurious moment.
This yearly meeting in Chantilly has become one of the most refined social and artistic moments thanks to Prince Amyn Aga Khan’s dedication and high culture. Meissen porcelain versus Chantilly will be a major exhibit in September 2020 and the German Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut and his wife were to celebrate this future event.
Until then, the Journées des Plantes will take place from October 18-20 and a new drawing exhibition of “Characters from Louis XIV’s reign, engraved portraits by Nanteuil” starts on October 19. You can join Friends of Domaine de Chantilly.
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