26 NOVEMBER 1983, Page 36

High life

Show business


New York

Arabella Pollen is a 22-year-old English girl who, like everyone else these days, designs clothes for women. Although I'm a friend of hers, I was surprised when her public relations girl rang to invite me to her spring and summer collection last week. I say surprised because I know as much about fashion as, say Khomeini and the Shiite Moslems know about compassion, and, to be perfectly frank, I'm not even bisexual.

Well, that is almost correct. I do have one favourite, Carolina Herrera, whose designs I find so sensual they could corrupt Edward Heath, but that's about it. Ever since 1957 I have tried to stay away from showrooms and collections. It was back then that Tyrone Power's ex-wife, the beautiful Linda Christian 'invited' me to accompany her to a show at Christian Dior, in Paris, and asked my opinion as model after model paraded in front of us in a private showing. Linda was known for her ability to make the meanest of men part with the root of all evil, but being young and innocent I thought that she felt dif- ferently towards me. So I nodded my ap- proval whenever I liked a dress, and she in turn nodded towards a smiling man stan- ding in the wings. At the end of the show the smiling man asked where I lived and whether I would pay by cheque or credit card. I got the m :ssage rather fast and fled into avenue Montaigne faster than Dillinger ever left a bank. That was the good news. The bad was that Linda for some strange

reason didn't like me after that.

The venue for the Pollen showing was one of the reasons I attended. It was held at Xenon, a place I have been known to fre- quent rather often. The hour turned out to be right, too. The show began at midnight in front of a crowd of about 250 people, most of whom were too out of it to be able to distinguish a chemise from a culotte: they probably thought the latter was a French way of describing a drug weight. I sat with John Bowes-Lyon, a man who has a relative living in the largest house in Lon- don right in the middle of Hyde Park. Bosie is quite knowledgeable about fashion. He pointed out that the designs were sleek, for daytime use, and that they were sexy. I found them sexy, too, but then I find everything at Xenon after midnight sexy.

When the models finished showing, Bella Pollen got up on the stage and took a bow. The viewers cheered and cheered, probably thinking that she was about to strip. It .was, to say the least, not the average, boring, subdued collection show. How could it have been? Sitting next to me was Pele, the great Brazilian, a man I'm sure knew less than I did about spring and summer fashion. He admitted to me that it was his first show, and I admitted to him that to my eternal shame it was my second. Never- theless, I enjoyed it more than my first.

This is the time of year that things get very frantic around New York. Social climbers go mad, and there are cosy little lucheons for 32 at Le Cirque given by real estate tycoons, or record executives, which one can read all about the next day in the gossip columns. New York hostesses actual- ly ring up and give their party list to the newspapers two days in advance, and it is not uncommon for people to jockey for better seating placement once the arrange- ment has been leaked. As Vogue magazine wrote in its current issue: 'In New York there are at least a dozen such miracles, a dozen hostesses who wield influence, who can command the appearance of Walter Cronkite.'

The writer of this piece went on a little later to describe his first party: 'It was the first time I saw a miracle in action. She swept in with such carriage, such assurance, with the kind of success under her cummer- bund that could more easily be savoured by those waiting for her than by anyone else in the city.' The miracle hostess'being describ- ed turned out to be none other than my old Fompatriot (I hope she feels as ashamed of it as I do) Arianna Stassinopoulos. By some miracle (or is it?) Arianna, whom I like very much, seems to have become the hottest item of New York cafe society. But let Vogue tell the story, which it does better than I. 'Her most notable feat, of course, was her dinner for ex-Governor Jerry Brown of California. That was the dinner

that, more than any other, sealed Arianna's reputation as a hostess of great power. The guest list was staggering. Jerry Brown, Walter Cronkite, Carl Bernstein, Dan Rather, Mon Auckerman....'

Staggering indeed, I say. In all

truthfulness — a condition I don't believe any of her guests have ever allowed themselves to labour under — it is a group I wouldn't sit even in a lifeboat with. But such are the joys of television fame, or, in the case of Bernstein and Zuckerman, fic- tion presented as non-fiction. So, thank God for Lord Brooke. Last week he gave a party for a Harpo Marx figure who was over here to sell some mementoes of British past glories, and there were no staggering people to put me in a bad mood. Until later, when I went to Xenon, ran into Sebastian Taylor, and decided right then and there to take myself out of retirement and fly to Cairo for the 6th World Amateur Karate Tournament. If I don't return, my blood (he already has my money) will be on his hands.