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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

PAPARAZZI: Escada Throws A 'House' Warming

The favorite Moscow memory for Wolfgang Ley , chairman of Munich-based Escada fashion house, is an incident in October 1993 when President Boris Yeltsin was battling the old Supreme Soviet.

While the White House was burning, Ley was given permission to stage a fashion show in the Kremlin as well as use of the royal box in the Bolshoi Theater. During a performance of "Swan Lake," not only did Ley get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bolshoi, but an ovation from the audience.

Ley was back in Moscow on Friday for the opening of the House of Escada store on Tverskaya Ulitsa.

Fresh from having graced the cover of Elle magazine's February edition, Moscow-born New York-based super model Kristina Semyonovskaya helped show off the Escada designs as Ley discussed his fashion philosophy.

Born to a Polish mother and a German father and raised in Canada, Ley said Escada is a truly multicultural fashion house with designers from all countries. "I've sent my son to China so he can get the experience I had working there," he said.

At the opening, Ley paid tribute to his late wife, Margaritha, with whom he launched Escada 20 years ago and who died of cancer in 1992. Ley also gave a gift of a porcelain lion and shield, the symbol of Bavaria, to his backer in the project -- Khaled Jamil, president of Moscow-based Jamilco Ltd. trading company, which also owns the Baza 14 restaurant and boutique.

A Meal Fit for a King

Customers at Angelico's restaurant last Friday probably didn't realize they were dining with royalty. King Albert II of Belgium, Queen Paola and Prince Philippe may have stayed at the Kremlin during their formal visit to Moscow last week, but the 37-year-old crown prince struck out on his own Friday for an informal meal at the downtown Italian eatery.

"He just came and sat here, read through the menu and ate like a normal person," said a source at Angelico's who asked not to be identified.

"We didn't even know he was coming until the last moment," she said. "Most of our guests didn't realize who he was -- it was very informal, and we didn't do anything special for him."

Embassy officials said Queen Paola visited the Tretyakov Gallery on Friday while the king opted for a visit to the Khrunichev space center. The whole family headed to St. Petersburg for one day of touring Saturday.

Classic Country

The cultural program was an eclectic mix of Nashville and fin de si?cle last Saturday night when the Tretyakov Gallery threw a party to thank a group of U.S. companies that added just handed it a check for a total of $755,000.

United Technologies Corp., Boeing, AIG Insurance and General Motors each chipped in $100,000 and several other companies made smaller donations to help renovate the gallery's air conditioning and fire-safety systems.

Tretyakov Gallery curator Valentin Rodionov played host to Culture Minister Natalya Dementyeva and the top U.S. execs led by UTC veep Ruth Harkin.

"I'm so HAPPY this happened," Rodionov said, "and if you could type 'happy' in capital letters, please."

The event was held in the hall that houses the works of turn-of-the-century style-moderne artist Mikhail Vrubel, but somewhat incongruous music was provided by U.S. country and western musician Gary Morris.

Morris, a buddy of Harkin, performed "Wind Beneath My Wings," a song he wrote but which later became a hit for Bette Midler.

If the contrast between Nashville and Vrubel's Russian neo-Gothic paintings were not enough, Morris had put in a special request to have some 19th-century Russian religious art brought into the hall. "I'm moved by the paintings here, by the pictures of Jesus," he said.

The tall, bearded Morris, who has performed as the lead in the Broadway version of "Les Mis?rables" and now hosts "The North American Sportsman" television program, sang a number of country ballads supported by his band and the Veronika String Quartet, a Russian emigre act who came over specially from Colorado. Morris also teamed up with his son Matt, 18, for a duet.

Tretyakov director Rodionov thought Morris' music suited the Vrubel Hall perfectly.

"It's controversial like Vrubel was controversial," he said, "People have told me to take down Vrubel's 'Princess of Dreams,' that it's not a serious painting, but I tell them that as long as I'm here, it will never happen."

Playing in the Snow

A field of about 40 novices and grand masters slipped, trudged and even skied their way to glory last Sunday during the Downside Up charity's weekend ski-a-thon at the Moscow Country Club.

The competition in the three-team cross-country skiing relay race was cutthroat. In one incident, Briton Angie Diggle yelled at her husband, Martin, who had abandoned the slow-starting Blue squad, and his wife, in favor of the Reds. "Get back on this team!" she yelled.

Jessica Adelman of Noble Gibbons faced a different challenge. She was pitted against Matt Wood, a super-fit Marine from the U.S. Embassy, in her leg of the event. She lost.

Vinlund's Ericka Monahan was awarded the endurance prize for traveling seven times around a four-kilometer course.

Apr?s ski, there was a tennis tournament won by the reformed Martin Diggle and partner Edward Nicholson of the Brunswick Warburg brokerage, and a quiz night hosted by Edmund Glentworth.

"Of course the boys had great fun," said the female Diggle, who operates AJB Interiors in Moscow, "Men love that kind of thing."

Charity director Claire Lyons said the $25,000 raised from the weekend would go toward the construction of a center for children with Down syndrome. Aiming at an August completion date, Lyons said the center would offer day care, preschool and family-support services.

Ajax of Moscow

The local Dutch community will likely be a little over-excited next month, when their beloved Ajax of Amsterdam soccer team arrives in Moscow.

Following its first-leg UEFA Cup match in Amsterdam on March 3, Ajax -- the 1992 UEFA champion -- will take on Spartak Moscow at Dinamo Stadium on March 17. Club official Erik van Leeuwen said the match represents the first time the Dutch club has faced a Soviet or Russian team. "But our top scorer this year, Shota Arveladze, is a Georgian international who knows the Spartak squad," he said, "and our captain, Danny Blind, has played against them, too."

"Unfortunately, there won't be a chance to see Red Square," van Leeuwen said, "We really have to concentrate on the Dutch league and will fly out right after the game. I guess the players will have to come back on their vacations, when it's warmer."