By MARY EVERTZ
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 21, 2000
Tampa lawyer Gwynne Young wasn't even born in 1947 when French fashion designer Christian Dior rocked the international world of fashion with his "New Look."
But Young and a group of friends are celebrating her 50th birthday this week in France at the late great French designer's estate.
Wanting to do something terribly different on this landmark birthday, Young turned to the wife of one of her former law partners at Carlton Fields, Lesley Ault Simpson, for guidance.
For several years Simpson has been booking vacation estates abroad. She knew the place for Young and her group would be Dior's fabulous Chateau de la Colle Noire in the South of France.
Crowned by fashion leaders as "the monarch of haute couture," Dior created the long hemline and full skirt look that clearly re-established France's style leadership.
For his achievement the French Government awarded him the Legion of Honor.
Because his business sense matched his creative genius, Dior amassed a fortune. One of the things he bought was the chateau.
Dior spent a great deal of time on the estate. Twice each year he would go into seclusion there to create his newest designs. Much of that time he spent in the bathtub, usually his Empire tub of green marble lined with silvery metal and fitted with swan's-head faucets.
The historic castle, with its square towers, dates to the 15th century. The "new" parts were added in the 18th century.
Chateau de la Colle Noire stands among woods, olive groves and manicured lawns. It has a tennis court and two swimming pools and sleeps 20 with ease. It is one of the most elegant estates available for rental, Simpson says.
Among those in the party are Anne Conway and her husband Robbie Robinson, of Winter Park; Jacqueline Griffin, also of Winter Park; Susan Bucklew, Dr. Carolyn Reed, Miriam Mason (president of the American Academy of Matrimonial lawyers) and her husband, Gregory Glynis, Russ Blain, Larry Samaha, Jeff Otterman, Katherine Essrig and her husband, Kevin Napper, Adelaide Few and Pat and Ray Calafell, all of Tampa; Kim Toole Johnson, formerly of Tampa, and her husband Russell, of Washington, and former Tampa resident Louisa VanEepoel, of St. Louis. Also joining the group are Leto Copley and her husband, Bert Fisher, of Raleigh, N.C. Fisher is the assistant director of alumni affairs at Duke University.
Young, who is president of the Duke University Alumni Association, will wind up her birthday celebration by attending the Duke Club of Paris' luncheon May 29 at the Cercle de L'Union Interalliee. Duke University president Nannerl Keohane also will attend.
Lyn Cantonis of Belleair won't forget the day she scored her first hole in one. She and her husband, Jim, were playing the challenging and newly completed Copperhead course at the Westin Innisbrook Resort Wednesday morning with the superstar of dance, Mikhail Baryshnikov, when, on the fourth hole, she scored her lucky shot. Baryshnikov was invited to play the prestigious course by the Cantonises. So after his performance at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Tuesday night, Baryshnikov begged off from an after-theater party to rest up for his 8:30 a.m. tee time. Cantonis, who owns Acme Sponge and Chamois of Tarpon Springs, won't share the scores but does mention that Baryshnikov has a 15 handicap.
Angela Lansbury, who has been a star of stage, screen and television, is getting ready to appear on Broadway again. Lansbury, who made her Broadway debut 47 years ago in Hotel Paradiso, has been asked to be the leading lady in the musical version of the Friederick Durrenmatt play The Visit.
Producer Barry Brown is planning to do something very retro. He called on award-winning writer Terrence McNally to adapt the book. McNally lived in St. Petersburg during his early school years. The show will be directed by Frank Galati, of Ragtime fame; Philip Bosco, who is currently starring in Copenhagen, will be the leading man.
Lansbury has tapped Ann Reinking to choreograph the show. Yes, Reinking will do it and still be in the Tampa Bay area the last three weeks in July for the 10th anniversary of her Broadway Theater Project.
Lansbury was in New York on Tuesday to receive the New Dramatists Lifetime Achievement Award at a luncheon at the Marriot Marquis. Lansbury also returned to her Jessica Fletcher role in a two hour-movie of the week, Murder She Wrote: A Story to Die For, with Richard Crenna, which aired Thursday night.
Nightline's Ted Koppel turned to Iranian-American author Gelareh Asayesh of St. Petersburg for her expertise Thursday night. On the Speaking Out: Iranian Women segment, Koppel interviewed Asayesh, the author of Saffron Sky: A Life Between Iran and America. Asayesh, who was in the studios of ABC affilate Channel 28, told Koppel she "feels as if she is on a different planet" when she returns to Iran every 18 months or so. She also noted that "what is tolerated changes day to day." Asayesh told Koppel she is preparing her six-year-old daughter for future visits. When the child turns 9, she will be required to wear the "chador," the covering Iranian women must wear in public.