Everyone is fashionably late in Lake Placid these days -- but not to the Whitney party. Ever the thoughtful hostess, Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, provided transportation via dog sled, for the more than 300 guests who attended the party at the Lake Placid club. She knew it would be faster than taking an Olympic bus.
It was the social event of the Winter Olympic season. Lord Killanin, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), was there, as was Prince Takeda of Japan, Prince Meroude of Belgium, Governor General of Canada Edward Schreyer, Santa Claus and a 6-foot-tall New York State racoon.
Mrs. Whitney, who is on both the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee (LPOOC), said she decided to give the party for representatives of the committees because "I wanted to do something for my country. I wanted to do something patriotic, and this was the most patriotic thing I could do."
Mrs. Whitney shed her four pairs of long underwear, by Duofold, for a long purple sequined gown by the Indian designer, Saz. Like most of the people in Lake Placid, she has been doing a lot of walking. Asked whether she had taken any of the notoriously elusive Olympic buses, she said, "I wouldn't dare."
Lord Killanin arrived via elevator, where he said he has been spending most of his time. He too had not taken an Olympic bus. "I'm privileged," he said.
Killanin said he had seen the men's downhill and the 500-meter speedskating and was enjoying Lake Placid "esthetically." "I long to see sport, not politicians, nor newspapermen or women," he said smiling.
Killanin has had a tough week in Lake Placid, what with the visit of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance urging the postponement of the Summer Olympics in Moscow. When one guest suggested he try one of the fortune tellers inhabiting fake igloos next to the bar, Killanin said, "I wouldn't dare go near a fortune teller right now." t
Another guest mentioned that Killanin looked pooped. "I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't tired," he replied, "but I'll go on."
There were more tinsel snowflakes dangling from the chandeliers of the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] posh century-old Lake Placid [WORD ILLEGIBLE] than there are on the ground [WORD ILLEGIBLE].Most of the guests dancing to the music of Lester Lanin's orchestra and eating the buffet roast beef dinner came in black tie.
Art Devlin, the vice-president of the LPOOC, and ABC's expert commentator on the ski jump, came wearing an Olympic tie. Devlin, who is a Lake Placid native and a former ski jump champion, surveyed the crowd and said, "Well, they've got all the la-de-da here."
Prince Egon von Furstenberg of Austria, who designed the furs for the American team, said when he was told he "had to wear a tux, I said 'Oh my God, this is an Olympic party.'" Guests should have come in jogging clothes, he said.
Von Furstenberg, who won "a few cups in the downhill" when he was in school in Switzerland brought his two children, Alexander and Tatiana ("she has a fragrance you know"), to the games. They have tickets to the ice skating, hockey and luge and will take the buses along with everyone else. "It's okay," said Von Furstenberg, "it will make them (the children) want to see them more."
Santa Claus attended in the predictable costume, though it was clearlyy out of season, and dispensed Olympic necklaces from his sled. "I go on promotions all summer and winter," he said. "I know it's early, but I've got to get ready for the Christmas that's to come."
Mrs. Whitney, the perfect hostess, was introducing everyone. "Have you met Mr. Raccoon?" she said.
Mr. Raccoon nodded politely from inside his official Olympic raccoon suit, but declined comment.