Hello, dahlings! Heading into the elegant season, you can bet your velvet bustier that the most enchanting ballgowns are on display at “Fashion in Film: Period Costumes for the Screen at Winterthur.” No offense to our dauntless fashionistas, but these styles were showcased by Hollywood’s most glamorous stars—Elizabeth Taylor, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name a few. Why, even Claire DeMatteis couldn’t compete. The exhibit’s Opening Night transformed the much-loved museum into movie-premiere territory, complete with klieg lights, Veuve-Clicquot and a red carpet up to The Galleries, where everyone preened. We asked local leading ladies, If a film were made about your life, who would play the role? Tina Hayward chose Melanie Griffith “and Peter (her husband) would be Steve Martin.” Valerie Helmbreck picked Meryl Streep. Spot-on, since Streep earned raves in the Brecht play “Mother Courage” this summer. With Wilmington Trust as “Fashion in Film’s” sponsor, we queried the bank’s pooh-bahs, too. “People tell me I look like Greg Kinnear,” said Matthew Waschull, vice president and managing director for private wealth management. “Clint Eastwood. There is no other,” said John Jornlin, a Dirty Harry fan. Happy to report, Sofia Coppola has a doppelganger in Delaware. Robin Sarratt-Cohen, who works in development at Winterthur, evoked the screenwriter-director in soft black attire with low-heeled pumps. Everyone wants to be a celebrity, so there was eveningwear modeling, courtesy of Anastasia boutique, and Lancome makeup stations. Luba Cawley, owner of Anastasia in Greenville, saw a trend in cocktail dresses. “Our customers don’t have to go to King of Prussia Mall anymore,” she told Gabby. n Eek! Zoom! Nobody channeled Audrey Hepburn at the motorcycle-themed Born 2B Wild: A Black T-shirt Affair. Biker chic and biker chicks held sway at this scene, the annual benefit for DCCA. “What If the Hokey Pokey Is Really What It’s All About?” was the existential question on the T-shirt worn by Lora Englehart, publicist at Brandywine River Museum. Art-boosters Lynn and John Wigton arrived in gleaming Harley-Davidson gear, as did many others—an homage to Mike and Debbie Schwartz, owners of Mike’s Famous dealership, who were honorary co-chairs. “Like my necklace? I got it at the hardware store today,” Alice Hupfel of Chadds Ford ’fessed about her linkage. Anna Francis of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, polished off her tattooed torso with a rock-star wig. “Yeah, go ahead and feel it. You won’t be the first,” she quipped. We chatted up Gina Marsilii, whose new biz is permanent makeup, and her friend Andrea Derrick of Newark. Gina, always a live wire, outdid herself in dangling satellite earrings “that have their own weather system,” as she put it. (Gabby just loves it when someone else writes her fashion copy.) Certain biker dudes took a back seat to nobody, sartorially. Bill Shea, a past president of DCCA, nailed that “Leader of the Pack” look in gila monster boots from Arizona and a vintage leather jacket. Dentist Milton Isaacs of Arden, whose daughter Susan Isaacs is adjunct curator of DCCA, played against type in a “Rebel With a Cause” T-shirt. A certain ladylike contingent shunned roadster garb for the safe middle lane—Julie Von Blarcom, Danielle Rice and Jan Jessup, all in long black skirts. The sequined butterfly T-shirt that writer Frances Buttenheim said she bought for $1.99 at Quality Thrift in Claremont, California, showed somebody knows how to spot a bargain. The night’s apocryphal va-va-voom trophy went to blonde Pat Barron of Wilmington, a head-turner in black leather cap, electric blue shades, chain belts and skinny pants. When the band Go Van Gogh played “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” the song didn’t apply to anyone at Born 2B Wild. n “This is the best Meals On Wheels in Delaware because there’s so much growth. It’s laid back and not corporate. Sussex County really knows how to throw a party,” said Don Mell, a Meals on Wheels Delaware board member, of the Celebrity Chefs’ Beach Brunch that drew about 700 gourmands to Ruddertowne in Dewey Beach. “You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner here,” added Nancy Rochford, who’s the Mells’ neighbor in Wilmington. U.S. Senator Tom Carper arrived at 1:15 p.m., then delivered what would subjectively be described as a bleeding-heart plea regarding food for the homeless. n John Schoonover’s opening for his newly named Rodney Street Gallery snagged Dorothy and George Scarlett, Fern and Jim Skelly, Beasie and Duncan Patterson, Frances and Rob Pyle, Fred Carspecken, Bill Cohen, Brud Reese, Andre Harvey and Michael NeVille, among others, to the historic studio that was once occupied by N.C. Wyeth. “How do you like my bowtie?” host John—“Schoons” to his friends—said while jiggling the family signature he inherited from his father, Courtland. John’s grandfather, Frank E. Schoonover, blazed trails as an illustrator, so John purveys his paintings, as well as other artwork, from the Brandywine School. Barbara Ryan, whose father Charles E. Ryan, was Frank Schoonover’s favorite model, was a party plus. So was Danielle Rice, executive director of the Delaware Art Museum. “I’m always surprised when I see something like this as to what good painters these people were,” she said. “When you study the American tradition, they’ve sort of slipped beneath the radar.” n Marina Kaiser, battling back from severe bronchitis, chased the sickbed blues by wearing a flamboyant pattern mix to Mary Page Evans’ art opening. Marina’s toes peeped through dalmation-spotted sandals, and a bits-and-pieces scarf she’d crafted hung around her neck. (Reader, you, too can have an accessories moment, because Marina sells these scarves out of her Greenville home for $300 apiece). Recovering but in absentia: Marina’s husband, Bruce Kaiser, from hip-replacement surgery, and Congressman Mike Castle, whose wife, Jane, whisked through, assuring everyone that he’s “doing fine.” Carol and Bill Spiker, Margaret and Ozzie Kincannon, Ellen Kurtz, Phoebe Craven, Carol Balick, Steve Bruni, Tom Savage, and Suzy and Coleman Townsend headed up Mary Page’s contingent at Carpecken-Scott Gallery. (The artist’s accomplished oils, done in layers, were influenced by 18th century British landscape painter John Constable). Fran and John Schoonover were there, too, with houseguest Miles Poindexter of Jacksonville, Florida. Miles, an old University of Virginia fraternity brother of John, eyed a lavish fruit-and-cheese spread and said, “Is there any way we could just throw some Saran wrap over this and serve it to guests tomorrow?” (The Schoonover Studios, a mews of four units near Trolley Square, was having another open house, to celebrate its centennial.)
Watch that brie. n Ta-ta, ’til next time.