April 24, 1995 12:00 PM

Ivana Trump’s perfume arrives before she does. Gardenia and sandalwood—her very own fragrance, Ivana, blended into a particularly persistent scent and available at $29.95 for 1.7 ounces on the Home Shopping Network—wafts through the living room of her Palm Beach estate.

The usually elegant Ivana follows, wearing white sailor shorts (also from her House of Ivana line, about $40 on HSN) and a blue top with brass buttons (about $35) that make her look like a deck steward on the good ship Lollipop. Trump, 46, giggles as she points out a present just received from a friend: a pillow stitched with the words The Best Is Yet To Come.

Call it petit point publicity. The Best Is Yet To Come is the name of Ivana’s third book. It’s a guide to divorce based on the hard lessons she learned during her noisy split from real estate tycoon Donald Trump after discovering his affair with Marla Maples. But bring up Marla, now Trump’s wife and the mother of his 18-month-old daughter Tiffany, and Ivana’s thermometer, set at professional warmth, dips below freezing. “I don’t discuss that,” she says.

Ivana will tell you that she wrote The Best Is Yet To Come, a primer on choosing a lawyer, investing alimony and reentering the social scene, in response to myriad letters she received after she and Trump split in 1990. But Ivana’s book—which would seem to push the limits of their agreement to keep mum about details of their marriage—is distinguished more by the author’s last name than by any of its insights. As inspiration, she chronicles her own rebirth

as a best-selling novelist (For Love Alone and Free to Love) and founder of a clothing, cosmetics and accessories firm that moves a reported $4 million in merchandise per month on HSN.

One reader who won’t be perusing Ivana’s manual is her ex. “As I’ve told Ivana, I don’t believe the book is necessary or appropriate,” he says. “But if it’s something she wants to do, it’s okay with me.” Yet privately, The Donald may feel differently. According to a friend, “He says Ivana said the book was about surviving a divorce, and he told her, ‘Survive? I gave you $10 million.’ [Her full settlement was estimated at $20 million, in addition to the couple’s estate in Greenwich, Conn.] Donald says that all Ivana needed to write was just one sentence: ‘Here’s the easy way: Marry a rich guy’ ”

Well, maybe she will and maybe she won’t. Ivana has been involved for four years with Riccardo Mazzuccelli, 51, a divorcé with one grown son, who she says made his fortune in engineering and mining. (Last month he also made headlines after he and other losing game contestants followed an MC’s ribald suggestion that they drop their pants during a charity party that Fergie hosted.) The couple has been engaged since Christmas, but Ivana is not wearing the Burmese sapphire-and-diamond ring Mazzuccelli gave her. “Oh, I just went swimming, so I took it off,” she says hastily when queried, adding that the long-since-ignored March wedding date was set merely to satisfy friends who were pushing her to settle down. “It took me three years to get engaged,” says Ivana. “I’m getting there. Nobody said when you get engaged you have to get married instantly.”

“Riccardo went to great length and great expense to romance her,” says one of Ivana’s close friends. “He loves her very much. But he doesn’t have enough money. And I think she still loves Donald.”

Ivana herself takes pains to point out that she doesn’t have to get married. “I don’t need really a man financially or for prestige,” she says. “I need a man for companionship and for sharing, and that’s a fabulous position to be in.”

“Fabulous” is one of Ivana’s favorite words. It is used to describe everything from her new book to her three children (Donald Jr., 17, Ivanka, 14, and Eric, 11) to her relationship with Le Donald. “We talk almost every second day and we discuss the children,” she says. “We bounce business ideas off each other. There’s a chemistry between us. Not anything…don’t get me wrong. But there’s a reason we were together for so many years.”

If she has regrets, they don’t show. “She’s more beautiful since the divorce,” says Pat Booth, author of the roman à clef Palm Beach and longtime Palm Beach resident. “She looked like a whippet on speed before, and when you look like that people think you’re a bit of a bitch. She’s a lot softer now.”

So maybe the divorce was a blessing in disguise? “It was unfortunate,” says Ivana. “But I am doing now things I would never have been able to do if I were still with Donald. When I worked for him in his hotels and casinos, it was always ‘Ivana, did you do this and this?’ I always had to report. Now, I don’t account to anybody, and it’s fabulous.”

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