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GOLD MEDALISTS

by Hamish Bowles November 30, 2011

Scarlet carnations scented the air, and the evocative strains of a classical guitar filled the soaring Delano & Aldrich domed hall of 583 Park Avenue in New York last night at the 2011 Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala, in the presence of Her Majesty.

We were definitely on Spanish time.

Former President Bill Clinton deftly lauded Queen Sofía, King Juan Carlos, and Spain whilst expostulating at length—and compellingly—on the research into the human genome that he supported so forcefully during his time in office and which, of course, has now established that the seven billion inhabitants of the earth are 99.5 percent identical. That said, there was a bedazzlement of visual variety among the bevy of Spanish, Latin American, and thoroughly Manhattanite beauties all dressed to the nines and tens. Among them, the enduringly ravishing Nati Abascal, once the Duchess of Feria, won the laurels for drama in Oscar de la Renta’s black lace top over a cloud of Seville yellow taffeta insouciantly accessorized with a cabuchon emerald ring the size of a sugarloaf mountain. Eliza Bolen wore a similar ensemble in emerald green, and set off her refined Ingres looks with a black jet-black choker. Beatriz Santo Domingo was the last word in understated elegance in piano-key black-and-white satin. Her daughter-in-law, Vogue’s own Lauren, chose Zac Posen’s striking grass-green sheath, à la Charles James. Green was clearly the color of the night—Erika Bearman opted for Oscar’s own mid-century homage in a singing jade faille. In lieu of a magnificent tortoiseshell haircomb, Daphne Guinness popped into Duane Reade for a handful of plastic combs to pierce her signature skunk striped French pleat.

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Detail of Medallion with Garlands, Jerónimo Navases, 1810