Dispatch: Rita Hayworth Gala Kickoff at Ashgrove Farm

August 06, 2013 | by JEFFREY SLONIM | Talk of the Town

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Ashgrove Farm
Alexandra Lebenthal, Nicole Sexton, Somers Farkas, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Anne Hearst McInerney, and Robin Meltzer (photo: Patrick McMullan/patrickmcmullan.com)

Dispatches spotted not one, but two emus at Ashgrove Farm during last Friday's Rita Hayworth Gala Kickoff Celebration. But the bumper crop at the bucolic Water Mill residence of Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney is gracious hospitality, not farm fresh produce. The endless, manicured property is based on the original ranch house at San Simeon, the famed California castle where Hearst’s grandfather, William Randolph Hearst, kept an ark-worthy menagerie.

McInerney mentioned that Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, known to him as “Yasi,” had founded the Rita Hayworth Alzheimer’s Foundation Gala 30 years prior, and that he had likely attended 15 of those occasions. He then introduced gala chair Nicole Sexton. Speaking of the princess, Sexton noted the expression, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” 

>>PHOTOS: Rita Hayworth Gala Kickoff Reception

“We all know Rita Hayworth affected millions with her unbelievable talent,” explained Sexton. “And Yasmin [her daughter] has affected millions with her incredible heart." Sexton then paused, poignantly choked up, but regained composure a moment later to kid party photographer Patrick McMullan, who stepped forward to snap a photo. “Sorry, you missed my choke-up!" she said. Over the past 30 years, under the leadership of Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, the gala has raised $60 million.

By chance, the grassy lawn where cocktails took place was accented with, among other bright shades, hues of blue and yellow. Francine LeFrak wore lemon; Alexandra Lebenthal, lemon shorts; Patty Raynes, canary stripes; her daughter Ashley, sky blue; McInerney, an aqua button-up; Nina Griscom, powder blue sweater; Sharon Bush, a white dress with bright yellow side panels; Margo Nederlander, a long lemon dress; and Peggy Siegal, just back from Patmos, wore a light blue and white striped French top that she had just snapped up in Germany. Also spotted: Lady Liliana Cavendish, Somers Farkas, and David and Lauren Bush Lauren.

And on the way out, on the porch floorboards, Dispatches picked up what appeared to be a sparkling, knuckle-size diamond. I handed it to McInerney, who happened to be standing next to a diamond expert. “Costume!” he definitively pronounced.

The 30th annual Alzheimer's Association Rita Hayworth Gala will take place on October 22, 2013 at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. Click here for tickets. 

For more entertainment and society news, visit jeffreyslonim.com or follow @JeffreyJSlo on Twitter

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