|Columbus Circle from the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.|
|October 20, 2009. A beautiful, sunny autumn day in New York. Down at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ballroom on the 36th floor in the north tower of the Time Warner building, the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy held their annual meeting and luncheon.
It is at this luncheon every two years that the Committee changes officers. Yesterday, Gillian Miniter officially succeeded Betsy Messershmitt.
In the world of philanthropy in New York, this is an important and prestigious post. The women of this committee raised $6 million last year which goes toward the maintenance of the Park. It is a sizeable chunk that makes a palpable difference in the upkeep.
|Cocktails before the luncheon.|
|Moving into the dining room for lunch.|
|The guests sit down to lunch.|
|The committee was created all those years ago exactly for this purpose and it has succeeded spectacularly. Today we take the glory of the Park for granted. Not all that long ago – thirty years or so – the Park was in a state of neglect to the point of serious decline.
The Women’s Committee has changed all that. Whoever takes on the job of President is expected to lead and to produce. Cash money and increased progress in maintenance and development of the Park. It’s all very serious and the caliber of the woman who is chosen for the job is comparable to what major corporations are looking for and hiring these days. If they’re lucky.
At this luncheon, the outgoing president Betsy Messerschmitt introduced Gillian Miniter as her successor. Gillian (with a hard G) is a newcomer in the New York philanthropic world, relatively speaking.
|Gillian Miniter taking the reins as President of the Conservancy.|
|Every decade, give or take a few years, produces individuals who make an impact on the community of New York, politically and/or socially. The social scene eventually is largely defined by these people.
The fashion pages promote the images of these people and they play various roles, according to temperament. The women who participate in the Conservancy, like the women who participate in the Society for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are at the upper levels of responsibility on this canvas.
I’ve watched Gillian Miniter enter and establish her presence in this world over the past decade or so. She happens to be one of those people who gets the job done. Think Hillary Clinton, no matter what your political opinion might be. You know other women like that also, I’m sure. They get the job done.
So now you know.
|Looking east across Central Park South and Central Park.|
|After the main course, Gillian introduced Nico Landrigan, the President of Verdura, who announced that Verdura was donating as a door prize a “knotted” pin that Fulco Verdura had designed and made in 1939 at the outset of the Second World War. A portion of the sales of this pin went to the War Effort.
This luncheon also has a speaker. Three years ago this writer was the “speaker” and because I’m inexperienced (and therefore terrified of public speaking) I asked if instead of giving a speech someone could interview me. And so it was .
|The luncheon guests.|
|Last year, NYSD readers might remember, Evelyn Lauder was the interviewee. Mrs. Lauder has made monumental achievements especially in the world of breast cancer research but also in many other areas of charity. She came to New York as a child from Austria, ahead of the Anschluss, and she grew up in New York. She had much to share of human interest as well as inspiration of what is possible with resolve.
This year’s interviewee was Candice Bergen.
I have been a Candice Bergen fan since I first saw her thirty or more years ago, on a cold late winter’s midday walking very quickly along Central Park South, darting through the crowd on her way to somewhere. I was moving west in a cab (in logjam traffic) when I spotted in the distance on the sidewalk across the way, a very goodlooking blonde moving quickly towards Fifth at this fast pace. On first sight, from a distance, I thought I recognized her by her height and shape and hair and movement. I thought she was someone I knew very well and liked very much; someone whom the sight of amused and intrigued. As she (I was watching from across the four lane street) got closer to my vantage point I realized that it wasn’t my friend at all, but instead ... Candice Bergen, the movie star. Talk about resolve! On a blue-eyed beautiful blonde in a brown tweed hacking jacket and pants in a New York hurry.
That image has stuck in my craw ever since. And so although I’ve never really met the woman, every time I see her work on television, in a movie, I’m watching that person identified in my psyche in a case of mistaken identity all those years ago. And I like her. I’m sure this is what explains all our relationships with celebrities we know not at all except by their image.
|Candice and Eleanora in action.|
|Now. I am not one of those fanatic fans despite this confession; and frankly I’ve met so many movie stars and celebrities and what have you in my life that at this age, I’d rather read a good book. However, yesterday, at the Women’s Committee luncheon in the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental, Candice Bergen was looking beautiful thirty-five years later and was, as the world knows, very funny and amusing. And oddly down to earth for a girl who grew up in Lotusland in a gilded household borne of vaudeville and mass communication.
Her father, Edgar Bergen was a very famous entertainer, especially in the 1940s and 1950s. He was America’s first famous ventriloquist. He had a partner, a dummy, whom he dubbed Charlie McCarthy. They appeared in films together and also on a weekly radio show (although the audience only had to imagine the trick of the ventriloquist). The man and his wooden dummy were mainstream American stars of movies and radio.
His daughter’s recollections of growing up with that father and that “brother” are funny but poignant. You’re aware of a bright mind that has processed her experience sensibly and creatively.
|Michael Kennedy, Eleanora Kennedy, Candice Bergen, and Marshall Rose.|
|And, it turned out, with her natural ability to perform comedy, she’s a chip off the old block, if you’ll pardon the pun. Albeit better looking. Re that, someone in the audience asked her how she handled her great beauty; was she vain? She replied that her father told her when she was a very young woman that she shouldn’t focus on her beauty in life because beautiful women tend to commit suicide more than women who weren’t/aren’t. She got the message.
The luncheon was sold-out and I was told they had a waiting list, no doubt to hear Candice Bergen speak. Eleanora Kennedy who is a longtime friend and neighbor of the actress, was the interviewer.
Ms. Bergen is a contributor and one-time board member of the committee, so she is one of the girls, so to speak. She’s been an Easterner most of her adult life, but it is her exotic Beverly Hills/movie star/television background that gives her a mystique that separates her from her social peers in a most alluring way. She wore that allure famously and well yesterday afternoon.
|Betsy Messerschmitt, Nancy Paduano, Iffie Aitkenhead, and Judy Manocherian||Emily Leonard and Betty Sherrill|
|Karen LeFrak and Nancy Paduano||Robin Bell-Stevens||Gillian Miniter and Betsy Pitts|
|Sylvester Miniter||Evelyn Lauder and Nico Landrigan|
|Wendy Carduner and Eleanora Kennedy||Susan Kraus, Evelyn Lauder, Nico Landrigan, and Michael Kennedy|
|Suzanne Johnson and Susan Kittenplan||Norma Dana and friend||Arthur Backal|
|Pamela Joyner, Anka Palitz, Fe Fendi, and Alicia Blythwood||Roger Webster and Jennifer Bradford Davis|
|Alexia Ryan and June Schorr||Susan Fales-Hill, Fe Fendi, and Alexis Clark|
|Eleanora Kennedy, Candice Bergen, and Evelyn Lauder||Marshall Rose and Michael Kennedy|
|Toni Peebler||Eleanora Kennedy, Gail Hilson, Jane Gammill, and Suzanne Cochran|
|Gayle Atkins and Nico Landrigan||Nyssa Kourakos and Susan Rudin|
|Steven Stolman and Laura Lofaro Freeman||Rachel Hovnanian, Anita Meltzer, Gillian Miniter, and Adelina Wong Ettelson|
|Norma Dana, Doug Blonsky, Isabel Rattazzi, Priscilla Rattazzi, and DPC||Betsy Bartlett and Pat Patterson|
|The main event last night for this writer was the annual autumn dinner at the Frick Collection. This year they honored Philippe de Montebello, the now – retired, longest-serving director in the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Since I am neither a contributor or a collector, nor am I a curator or an art historian, events at the Frick are a foray into a very privileged atmosphere and milieu. To the eye, in this rarified atmosphere created by the Pittsburgh tycoon to house his precious acquisitions, the crowd is right out of Louis Auchincloss’ New York in appearance and bearing. Indeed, the Frick draws a very cultured crowd, including quite a few whose ancestry dates back a century and even two in New York.
There were two long tables in the West Gallery with its green velvet walls. The astounding lighted masterpieces commanded the room otherwise barely lit save for the votives on the tables. The floral designs by the Frick’s Horticulturalist and Special Events Designer Galen Lee on the tables reminiscent of the Dutch school. The urns were filled with bittersweet and persimmons amongst the bountiful combinations of flowers and fruit.
The men wore black tie, the women long dresses. The menu began with House Smoked Trout with Ruby Grapefruit Mache Salad, Avocado and Pickled Mustard Seed.
The main course was Griggstown Farm Pheasant Breast Sous Vide with White Wine-Thyme Jus, Chestnut Gnocchi and Wilted Tuscan Kale, followed by a desert of Apple Tarte Tatin with Sour Cream Ice Cream. Wines: Mas Cal Demoura, L’Etincelle Vin de Pays de l’Herault Blanc 2006 and Busson Saint Romain Blanc Sous la Velle.
The evening, which is the Collection’s annual fundraiser paid tribute to Mr. de Montebello who is one of the art world’s most influential and widely admired leaders whose vision and dedication tdo the field inspires the future generations.
|The West Gallery before dinner.|
|The Table Left of the West Gallery.|
|In the crowd: Alexandra and Philip Howard, Fred Koch, Elizabeth and Patrick Gerschel, Vera and Walter Eberstadt, Helen Clay Chace and Mike Chace, Irene Aitken, Konrad Kessee, Christian Kessee, Audrey and Enriquillo de Rosario, June Dyson, Peter and Sofia Blanchard, Jerry and Margot Bogert, Anthony and Cetie Ames, Herve Aaron, Andrew Fabricant, Stephanie French, Louise Grunwald, Antoinette Guerini-Maraldi, Margo Langenberg, Tobias Myer, Caroline and Jeremiah Milbank, Pat and John Rosenwald, Ellie and George Munroe, Theirry Milerand, Marvin and Mary Davidson, John Currin, Emily Frick, Elise Frick, Victoria and Julian Agnew, Dailey and Gordon Pattee, Howard and Mary Phipps, Elizabeth and Felix Rohatyn, Clifford Ross, Jennifer Raab, Anne and Francois Poulet, Emily and John Rafferty, Andrew and Denise Saul, Elizabeth and Stanley Scott, Bill Wegman, Peter Wolff, Kimba Wood and Frank Richardson, Prince Dimitri of Yugloslavia, Ann Nitze, Ezra Zilkha, Suzette Smith, Mimi Stafford, Gerald Stiebel and Penelope Hunter-Steibel, Aso Tavitian, Martha Loring, Edith de Montebello.|
|The Oval Gallery with its Whistlers.|
|The East Gallery.|
|The West Gallery seated at dinner.|
|Also around town last night. The Whitney Museum of American Art hosted its annual Gala and Studio Party last night. The evening began with a black tie dinner. At 9 p.m., the mood lightened and more guests streamed in the front door past a gaggle of photographers, and moved downstairs to the Lower Gallery for the Studio Party.
The crowd grew larger and more impenetrable as the night wore on, and with a DJ playing upbeat dance music, the museum began to feel more like a nightclub than a vaunted art institution. Lindsay Lohan arrived around 11 p.m.; she was so accosted by photographers that event staff had to step in to prevent the aggressive shutterbugs from following her downstairs.
|Lindsay Lohan makes her way down to the Studio Party.|
|Toby Thorne (in brown) decorates the walls.|
|Among the Studio Party crowd besides Lohan: Alexa Chung, Dan Abrams, Byrdie Bell, Fabiola Beracasa, Stephanie LaCave, Charlotte Ronson, Amanda Hearst, Andrew Saffir, Terry Richardson, Leigh Lezark, and Nicole Trunfio. Shakira, Gerard Butler, Jennifer Hudson, Mischa Barton, Jet Li, Lake Bell, Chuck Close, and Jeff Koons.
|Julie Huhn, Anthony Ames, Terri Kahan, and Doug Biben||Jessica Franko and Mark Jones|
|Olivier Zahn, Masha Orlov, and Terry Richardson||Lesley Blume, Elissa Lumley, and Annabel Vartanian|
|Leigh Lezark of The Misshapes||Meggie Kempner and Taylor Momsen||Nicole Trunfio|
|Kimry Blackwelder and Ferebee Taube||Alex Jaffe, Lauren Remington Platt, Stephanie Lacava, and Andrew Fry|
|Amanda Hearst||Gabriel Fortoul||Rachelle Hruska|
|Philip Munger and Billy Hulkower||Linda Pratka, Melanie Lazenby, and Meagan Cignoli|
|Meggie Kempner, Alexandra Michler, and Jacqueline Rohrbach||The DJ and his customized Mac|
|Then downtown in the Frank Gehry designed IAC Building, God’s Love We Deliver held its 3rd Annual Golden Heart Awards Celebration, this year honoring Calvin Klein and Christine Quinn for their commitment and service to the organization and HIV/AIDS assistance.
|Anna Wintour, Calvin Klein, Cece Cord, Robbie Brown, and and Hugh Hildesley (red tie).||Carolina Herrera.|
|Among the guests were Anna Wintour, Jerry Bruckheimer, Aerin Lauder, Kelly Klein, Marci Klein, Deborah Norville, Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang, Marjorie Gubelmann, Blaine Trump, Marina Rust Connor, Ingrid Sischy, Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler, John Demsey, Tory Burch.|
|Adam Mahr and Jeff Pfeifle||Jackie Fierstein and Beatrice Kaplan|
|Tory Burch||Kelly Klein||Calvin Klein and Miss USA 2009, Kristen Dalton|
|Nolan Gerard Funk and Gula Duval||Ross Beckner, Alan Rogers, and Robbie Brown|
|Rebecca and Jon Bond||Tamara Tunie|
|Elizabeth Lindenmann, Daniel Romualdez, and Aerin Lauder||Bruce Weber and Nan Bush|
|Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan||Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera|
|Frederique van der Wal||Anna Wintour and Calvin Klein|
|Kirsten Skrinde, Devyn Summy, Edward Prostak, and Christine Quinn||Cece Cord|
|Chris and Blaine Trump with Bob Colacello||Lee Radziwill and Barry Diller|
|Barbra Locker||Geoffrey Bradfield||Aileen Mehle and Ingrid Sischy|
|Karl Wellner and Deborah Norville||Scott Bruckner's party|
|Photographs by JH/DPC/Ann Watt (God's Love)|