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Hello! Magazine(November 11, 1995)
Alexandra Miller and Prince Alexandre von Furstenberg
900 GUEST INCLUDING ROYALS AND CELEBRITIES ATTENDED NEW YORK'S WEDDING OF THE YEAR
The youngest of the Miller Sisters married a European prince in what was New York's high-society wedding of the year, bringing together hundreds of guest, many of them celebrities and royals.
Alexandra, 22, wed Prince Alexandre von Furstenberg at the St. Ignatius Loyola church on Park Avenue on October 28. The bridegroom is the 25-year-old son of Prince Egon von Furstenberg of Austria and his designer wife Diane.
In comparison with her sister Marie-Chantal's wedding to Prince Pavlos of Greece this summer, Alexandra's was relatively low-key, and certainly a lot less formal. The 900 guests were comprised of a younger crowd, with the bride and grooms friends far outnumbering their parents' friends.
Low-key it may have been, but by no means obscure: among those at the wedding were country singer Dolly Parton, top model Elle Macpherson, TV presenter Barbara Walters and Bianca Jagger, Mick Jagger's ex-wife.
Royal Guest included Queen Anne Marie of Greece, her son Prince Pavlos, and the groom's sister, Princess Tatiana.
And, as is traditional with the Miller family, renowned for their lavish, fun parties, the celebrations went on for days: on the preceding Thursday night a grand ball was held amid the historic elegance of Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan.
The theme was Hong Kong, where Robert Miller's business empire is based. Guests especially enjoyed a five-course banquet and entertainment in the shape of performances by acrobats and mime artists inside the marquee, which had been decorated to look like Chinese templates. After the dinner, there was a firework display and then guests adjourned to another marquee for the dancing, which went on till five the following morning.
Robert Miller is thought to have spent a total of between 10 and 15 million pounds on his daughter's weddings in the space of three years. For the magnificence and sheer fun value, the Miller sisters' weddings will surely go down in society history.
Vanity Fair (January 1996)
Dynasty & Destiny
The weddings of her dazzling sisters—Pia to Christopher Getty and Marie-Chantal to Greece’s exiled Crown Prince Pavlos—were tough acts to follow. But as BOB COLACELLO reports, it was a three day whirl of truffles, tiaras, and romance.
And so the last of Robert and Chantal Miller’s daughters has taken her trophy husband, Prince Alexandre von ünd zu Fürstenberg, bringing together an American fortune made in Asian duty-free shops since the Vietnam war and a European dynasty whose title goes back to the Holy Roman Empire. Three years ago, the Millers’ eldest daughter, Pia, exchanged vows with Christopher Getty, a grandson of the late oil billionaire J.P. Getty, as hundreds of Indonesian children showered them with rose petals in a sunset ceremony on a mountaintop in Bali. Last July their middle daughter, Marie-Chantal, wed exiled Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sophia in London, with the reigning monarchs of Britain, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Jordan in attendance.
"This wedding was the nicest," says a private jet-setter of the three-day celebration held in New York in October, which began on a Thursday with a black-tie ball for 650 in Battery Park, at the tip of Manhattan, and ended with a Saturday luncheon for 600 at the former Phipps estate in Old Westbury, Long Island. "Pia’s was a fabulous Cecil B. DeMille fantasy. Marie-Chantal’s was incredible, but almost too royal. Alexandra’s felt more like a real family party, cozy and warm." A New York guest adds, "The Miller girls are the best thing to happen to high society since the Cushing sisters arrived on the scene in the 30s—and went on to become Mrs. Vincent Astor, Mrs. John Hay Whitney, and Mrs. William Paley."
Of course, the von Fürstenberg have centuries of advantageous love matches behind them. The diamond tiara Alexandra wore with her Chanel wedding gown has been in Alexandre’s family since an ancestor of his married a descendant of Empress Josephine, to whom it was given by Napoleon. The groom’s paternal grandmother was born Clara Agnelli, of Italy’s de facto royal Fiat family. Diane von Fürstenberg, the daughter of a Brussels department-store owner, turned the little wrap dress with the aristocratic label into a big-time fashion and fragrance business before she and Egon divorced in 1983. Her onetime beau and constant adviser, Silver King Communications chairman Barry Diller, gave Alex and Alex as the newlyweds are called, a jar of earth in which he had buried a check for property in Malibu, where they plan to settle.
Nuanced extravagance seemed to be the theme of the wedding festivities, which combined 70s frivolity and 80s opulence with a sense of 90s proportion. The Millers donated a substantial amount of money to the Conservancy of Historic Battery Park so that party designer Robert Isabell could begin construction on two sumptuous tents a week before the "Alexander Ball," which was rumored to cost as much as $4 million. The first tent, a bamboo-filled winter garden facing New York harbor, was for sipping cocktails and watching Grucci fireworks burst over the Statue of Liberty. The second tent was a block-long red-black-and-gold Chinese pavilion with a pagoda ceiling for dining and dancing, which went on until five the next morning. There were four courses from Daniel Boulud’s four-star restaurant (with black and white truffles, but no caviar), three wines (Veuve Clicquot champagne instead of the showier Cristal), and three bands: fox-trot, salsa, and Crystal Waters, famous for her socially-conscious disco hit "Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)."
The guest list also spanned the decades and mixed European nobility, New York society, and Hollywood power, including Viscount and Viscountess Rothermere, Princess Firyal of Jordan, Lee Radziwill and Herbert Ross, Ronald Perelman and Patricia Duff, Priscilla Rattazzi and Christopher Whittle, Barbara Walters, Francesco Clemente, Sandy Gallin, Taki and Alexandra Theodoracopulos, Alecko Papamarkou, Ezra and Cecile Zilkha, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder, Calvin and Kelly Klein, and Lynn Wyatt. Marisa Berenson, with her teenage daughter Starlite Randall, and Hiram Keller, the star of Fellini’s Satyricon, mingled with Betsy Bloomingdale and Carroll Petrie in their Reagan-red ball gowns. Oscar de la Renta glided London Sunday Times columnist Barbara Amiel, the wife of Canadian press grandee Conrad Black, around the dance floor. The father of the bride jitterbugged with his dinner partner, Georgette Mosbacher, whose blue-sequined mermaid gown set her apart from the bopping grandchildren of David Niven, Estee Lauder, and Charles Engelhard in their sleek satin sheaths.
Two mornings later, at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue, the wedding Mass was officiated by the papal nuncio to the United Nations. Almost all the male guests followed instructions and wore gray morning coats with tails, as did the security men, the official photographers, and Fran Lebowitz. The most notable exception was Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli, who marched down the aisle in a navy pin-striped suit. "He doesn’t want to be photographed in the Italian press wearing anything fancy," whispered a titled Venetian in my pew. As jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane later put it, I wonder if the Millers realize that the Agnelli clan is much more complicated than the royal house of Greece."
As the chauffeured Mercedes and Lincoln sedans drove up to the Phipps estate, the drizzle stopped and a rainbow appeared over the pair of round silk tents—olive green for drinks, saffron for lunch, both festooned with boughs of autumn leaves. It was all so romantic that even the estranged Jann and Jane Wenner put their arms around each other and posed for Jean Pigozzi’s camera. Bianca Jagger arrived with publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, who asked her to change from the prim yellow suit she had worn to church into "something sexier"—a black velvet coat over a gossamer pink slip dress.
"Your Majesty, Royal Highnesses, Serene Highnesses, Highnesses, Excellencies, milords, ladies and gentlemen," was the way Robert Miller addressed the guests, who lunched on quail stuffed with figs and foie gras and included Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Mrs. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Prince von Schwarzenberg from Prague, and Princess Corsini from Rome, Republic Bank founder Edmond Safra and his wife, Lily, C.Z. Guest, Dolly Parton, and the groom’s aunt, Princess Ira von Fürstenberg, with her two sons, Prince Christoff von Hohenlohe and his brother, Prince Hubertus, an Austrian rock singer.
The toasts that followed were a veritable love-in. Egon called Diane "my best friend." Diane praised Chantal Miller as "a wonderful magician who makes everything possible." Finally, the groom raised his champagne flute to the bride and declared, "I wish every decision I have to make in life would be as certain as my decision to marry Alexandra."
W Magazine(December 1995)
Inside the second glamorous Miller wedding this year
by Aileen Mehle
Few Sister acts have captured the imagination here and abroad as have the three beautiful, fine-boned Miller Sisters, Pia, Marie-Chantal and Alexandra, the daughters of an exquisitely chic mother, Chantal Miller of Ecuadorian blood, and Robert Warren Miller, the international duty-free tycoon. Not only are the girls ravishing, but, despite their great good looks and wealth, they remain unspoiled and down-to-earth. And all three have made dazzling love matches. In a ceremony in Bali, several years ago, Pia married handsome Christopher Getty of the oil-fortune Gettys. They have one tiny daughter and is expecting their second child. In a royal wedding ceremony at the Greek Cathedral in London in July, the second daughter, Marie-Chantal married also-handsome Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece with the Queen of England and every royal family in Europe in attendance. The attendant festivities were so lavishly beautiful and done with such taste that they were the talk of Europe and the United States, never with better reasons.
Recently, in a glorious ceremony at St. Ignatius Loyola Church of New York's Park Avenue, the youngest of the gorgeous trio, Alexandra, married Prince Alexandre Egon von Furstenberg, the also handsome son of Prince Egon von und zu Furstenberg, himself the son of an Austrian nobleman and an Agnelli heiress, and Diane von Furstenberg, the highly successful fashion designer. Queen Anne Marie of Greece, in a black suit trimmed in pink and a black hate with a saucy pink rose, sat in the front pew of the bride's side, and Gianni Angnelli, the groom's great-uncle and Italy's foremost captain on industry(Fiat and all that), sat in the front pew of the groom's side of the church. Who could dare ask for anything more?
Sine this was a wedding of glamour and magnitude-there were 650 guests-a crowd gathered outside to watch the arrivals descend from their limousines as white-jacketed valets held white golf umbrellas over their heads, the better to protect fancy hairdos-and even fancier hats-and gray toppers and morning coats. Even the dozen of security guards, who kept the photographers at bay, wore morning coats. Chantal Miller is a perfectionist, and it shows in everything she touches. The day was warm, so few raindrops didn't really matter. Moreover, a rain shower on a wedding day is said to be a harbinger of fertility-so stand back.
Robert Isabel, the famous and foremost designer and producer of special events alive today, working hand in hand with Chantal Miller, as they did at Marie-Chantal's royal wedding in London, was responsible for setting the scene at the magnificent gold-domed and coffered church. A white-tented porte-cochere shielded the guests ascending the steps whose balustrades were festooned with huge urns of Maidenhair ferns.
Inside the foyer, palms and more ferns framed the dramatic entrances to the 150-foot-long nave. The intoxicating scent of thousands upon thousands of tube roses planted in gold leaf urns filled the air. A royal burgundy carpet ran the entire length of the aisle and up the steps to the alter, where gardenias interspersed with stephanotis covered the railing. The romantic lighting spotlighted both the altar and the majestic organ and of course, the beautiful couple, Alexandra looking like a fairy princess in off-the-shoulder white satin with a bouffant skirt and a long white tulle veil falling and floating from a diamond diadem, all the work of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Lagerfeld also designed the bride's mother's Chanel mauve suit and matching hat, but the tiny sable scarf hugging her throat was her own idea.
The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Renato Martino, performed the ceremony and officiated at the nuptial mass, the couple's friend Rachel Peters and the bride's sister Pia Getty both spoke, and the choir was, well, heavenly.
Filling every pew in the church were such as the groom's proud mother, Diane, in a turban and glittering earrings, the groom's father Egon, wreathed in smiles and a morning coat, the groom's paternal grandmother, Countess Clara Agnelli von und zu Furstenberg Nuvoletti, the groom's aunt Princess Ira, the groom's redhead sister, Tatiana, in pink satin with jeweled butterflies in her hair, and the groom's maternal grandmother, Mrs. Lily Halfin, and the aforementioned Gianni Agnelli. On the bride's side were her mother and father, Prince and Princess Pavlos of Greece, and of course Queen Anne Marie of Greece.
Also in the front pews were family friend Barry Diller; Egon's present wife Lynn: other assorted Furstenbergs; Princess Ira's two sons Hubertus and Christopher; Princess Irene of Greece in an all gray and silver suit; Princess Alexia of Greece; beautiful Prince Nikolaos of Greece, and Pia and Christopher Getty.
After all that, guest motored out to Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island, the gracious former Phipps estate, for the wedding luncheon. They drove through a rainstorm, but then the skies cleared, the sun came out and so did a beautiful double rainbow. Someone said that was another sign of fertility, but you know how people exaggerate. Here again, Isabel worked his magic in two huge tents built especially for the party. Great turns holding autumnal branches and berries led up to the Phipps English-style manor house where champagne was served on the south porch while two harpist and a flutist serenaded the gathered hundreds.
While the Miller and von Furstenberg families posed for their formal portraits in the mansion's ballroom, everyone else walked through a marquee tent carpeted in sisal;, down long garden steps, around a pond and across a sumptuous green meadow to the cocktail tent, elegant space with a moss green fabric ceiling, green and gold draperies and 10-foot high windows overlooking hills and fields. There was wicker garden furniture with moss green cushions and goldenrod silk pillows, and hundreds and hundreds of yards of two-foot-thick autumnal garlands of leaves, berries and hydrangea blossom festooned across the ceiling and everywhere else you looked. What a glorious sight-and this was only the beginning.
From the cocktail tent it was on to the luncheon tent via a wondrously scaled walkway of extravagant width and elegance, a grand finale to Isabell's genius. One entered on the upper level of a great two-tiered oval space with 13-foot-high Palladian windows framing a spectacular vista from a tent swathed in yellow silk and still garlands. The rear walls of the tent were covered from floor to ceiling in autumn leaves, and the floor were covered in hand painted cork tile with an oak leaf design reminiscent of the manor house's heritage. The tables were covered in golden linen with Irish linen over clothes, and lunch was served on silver plates. Each table had a white and gold porcelain centerpiece filled with autumn fruit and gardenias. This simple elegance equaled the personal style of Chantal Miller's own houses all over the world.
The glamour capitals of Europe are the usual setting for grand balls given in grand palaces by grand people. Motivated and moneyed Europeans have the venues for it, palaces and chateaux and sclosses hundreds of years old, dripping with history and beauty, many of then still in private hands, some even rentable to Americans and others. But if you cannot find quite the place you want here or abroad, suitable for an all-out soiree, you can-given imagination, talent and, yes, money-build a vast ballroom of your very own.
That is exactly what Chantal Miller did in New York for the pre-wedding "Alexander Ball" given in honor of the marriage two days before the ceremony, collaborating again with Robert Isabel, New York's master designer and producer of dazzling events. No one who was present- and everyone who was dying to be-will ever forget the sight and the spectacle.
The "Alexander Ball" (a fitting title as the bride and groom are both called Alex) began at dusk, and it was Alexandra herself who chose the theme of the evening. As soon as she saw the site at Battery Park with its magnificent view overlooking New York Harbor, she was reminded of her native Hong Kong and decided the look of the ball should be based on Imperial China. That's all her mummy and Isabell needed to hear.
The 700 guests arrived via a candlelight promenade/driveway to enter a meandering tented passageway covered from floor to ceiling in regal red and twinkling with hundreds of Chinese festival lanterns. A steel ban dressed in Fellini-gone-Chinese fashion played along the walkway. Located at the far end of this enchantment, the enormous cocktail tent appeared as if by magic, draped in what seemed like miles and miles of imperial golden satin.
Situated at the water's edge, the western side of the structure was one enormous bank of floor-to-ceiling windows, the better to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and a glistening crescent moon. Even the waters below the tent were lighted to enhance the scene. That Robert Isabell!
Inside, the tent was festooned with sparkling lanterns practically as far as the eye could see and guests mingled in what was a forest of 25-foot lacy, bamboo trees planted in gold-leaf containers. The multitiered floor was covered in a golden carpet, and, for the guests' comfort, there were wicker sofas and chairs cushioned in red and gold silk, red and gold being the colors of Imperial China-but you knew that.
After going through the receiving line to congratulate the handsome couple and their parents, everyone flew to the windows to watch the extraordinary fireworks display directed by Michael Laykin who flew form London to marry the pyrotechnics (produced by the fireworks-meisters, the family Grucci) to classical music. Lots of ooohhhs and aaahhhhhs.
After a Chinese gong, resounding enough to be heard in Hong Kong, announced dinner, an array of exotically costumed and Herculean-sized figures led the procession of guests through a 400-foot long walkway swathed in red fabric and carpeted in the same brilliant color. Hanging overhead were more hundreds of lanterns. God help anyone else who needed a Chinese lantern that night, Robert Isabell had cornered the world market.
At the end of the walkway an enormous portal leading into the dinner tent, a two-story, 40-foot-wide teahouse, a monumental recreation of the Throne Room from the Imperial City of then-Peking. After the gasping and the swooning, guests were entranced, staring at the four-tiered ceiling decorated with handpainted beams and rust fabric stenciled in gold designs. The massive entry was filled with red and gold Chinese divans covered in turquoise and yellow satin pillows. Here and in the teahouse, there were arrangements of thousands of thousands of tiny yellow orchids soaring 10-feet high from golden containers. It seems, Robert Isabell also cornered the tiny yellow orchids market.
In the dining area, mimes, acrobats and musicians on stilts performed during dinner. The floor, designed by Isabell, was paved with hand-painted cork tiles inspired by Chinese motifs and centered with a five-clawed dragon. Lesser beings had to decorate with four clawed beasts-but you knew that, too.
The walls of the dinner tent were lined with red velvet and framed with gold-leaf bamboo latticework. Tables were covered in yellow silk printed in a gold lattice pattern and lighted form below to shimmer in a soft-yellow glow. On the tabletops, celadon vases held persimmons, pomegranates, poppies, roses and miniature golden apples. The golden service plates were topped with red glass dinner plates. The red bamboo chairs were covered in red velvet. As for the dance floor, it was hand-painted and ornamented with red, blue and yellow Chinese designs with gold Chinese motifs, and in the center, an enormous five-clawed dragon invited dancers to frolic.
As for the entertainment, Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra played nostalgic tunes-the bride and groom had the first dance to "Someone to Watch Over Me"-and then the inimitable deejay Tom Finn took over and the entire room flew to the floor. At two in the morning, disco diva Crystal Waters took to the stage and later, Jose Alberto and his Latin All Stars sent out the salsa, followed by more Tom Finn until five or so in the morning.
The bride was beautiful in Oscar de la Renta's long ice-blue satin halter dress, draped in the back and with an Empire bodice embroidered in diamantes. As for the mother of the bride, she wore Chanel's pale yellow satin with a long-sleeved fitted bodice with small bows at the back. Quelle chic.