Friday, March 23, 2007

SF Social Diary

The crowd at the 25th annual San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

The 25th Anniversary of the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show – The Silver Jubilee

By Jeanne Lawrence

Preview Party night of the prestigious San Francisco Fall Antiques Show is one of the most popular and fun charitable events in the city and one I try never to miss.

 The show’s home is Fort Mason the historic pier and one-time military base, which functions much like Manhattan’s 7th Regiment Amory on 67th Street.

On that night, the weather was perfect unusually balmy even for San Francisco, allowing fun loving Don and Trish Stephens (D.R. Stephens Wine) to arrive in their Mercedes convertible with the top down.

Gail Glasser (the late Nan Kempner’s stepmother) quipped, “Speaking of global warming - we used to wear rain boots and heavy clothes it was so cold and now, but now with temperature in the 70’s, we’re wearing spring clothes.”         

I couldn’t help but notice Urannia and Brunno Ristow (a prominent plastic surgeon and lover of vintage cars) checking out the Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren, with sticker price around $450,000.  Unbelievably, it can reach top speed of 208 mph in 3.8 seconds – but still no match for the Bugatti Veyron, the fastest street-legal car in the world.  I think Bruno is still making up his mind.   

New York-based interior designer Ed Lobrano flew in for the occasion.  “If you can spend only one night in SF, this is the night…everyone comes, even those who never go out,” he remarked.
Jeanne Lawrence, NYer Helen Fioratti, and former NYer Denise Fitch
Boris and Axel Vervoordt of Axel Vervoordt Gallery in Belgium
I chatted with entrepreneur Ken Rainin, who said, “I come for the beautiful people.  It’s the best party of the year and I almost always buy something.” Now that’s music to dealers’ ears.

The big news of the night, for me at least, was that Trevor and Alexis SwansonTraina, who married last summer, are expecting.  By the way, his mother is Dede Wilsey.

Beside him stood his friend, polo player J.P.  Thieriot, (son of Dick and Angie Thieriot) part of the de Young family that founded The San Francisco Chronicle and the de Young Museum.

“The de Young descendants had to “re-up” their contributions to the de Young, otherwise, it might have become the Dede Wilsey museum,” J.P. jested, sporting the same tie he wore at the Traina/Swanson wedding, as one of 16 groomsman. You might recall that the Wilsey family donated over $10 mil to the museum.

Ristow family eyes the McLaren for $450K
Silver Mercedes McLaren with distinctive gullwing doors
Chilled Champagne and Vodka flowed accompanied with mounds of caviar and Scottish Smoked Salmon. If that didn’t suit your fancy, you could ‘amuse-bouche’ with Sushi Balls in Teaspoons, Torchon of  Foie Gras, Petite Filet Mignon Cheese Burgers or an incredible variety of Petit Sushi – all catered by Dan McCall.   Worth the ticket price alone, but there’s more!

The glittering crowd jostled past lavish buffets stacked with Racks of Lamb Karsky (my favorite), Gulf Shrimp, Pacific Oysters on the Half Shell, hand carved Roast Sirloin of Beef, cornucopias of crudities, Ricotta filled Agnolloti with Lobster Sauce – and an open bar.

Of course, the piece de resistance was the mammoth dessert table topped with  gigantic floral displays.  The desserts were lavish enough to compete with the visual delights of the food scenes from Napa native SophiaCoppola’s latestfilm, Marie Antoinette.


Just a sample of the mouthwatering desserts:  Ancho Chili Little Chocolate Pot au Crème, Earl Grey Tea Crème Brulee, Tapioca Pudding with Kirsh Cherries, Napoleons, Pecan Bars, Profiteroles, Fruit Tartlettes, Chocolate Glazed Mascarpone Cannoli, Truffles, Brownies, Gelato Bon Bons, Mascarpone stuffed Figs and Dates, Fruit Martinis, and every variety of cookie, cake and every torte imaginable - Sacher Torte, Opera Torte, Tiramisu, Clafoutti, Cassis Miroire, and Apple Strudel with Whipped Cream. How’s a gal supposed to keep her figure, anyway?

Toby Rose founded the benefit event 25 years ago as a fundraiser for Enterprise for High School Students.  This non-profit job referral and career development agency currently assists over 2,000 local students annually, serving more than 50,000 to date. She credited her colleague Show Director Terry Grant for her 25-year support in this venture.

This year Rose passed the baton to Lisa Podos, a New Yorker, whose last position in NYC was with the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, founded by SusanSoros. It was Lisa’s recent marriage to Michael Wais – after meeting at Princeton years ago - that brought her to the West Coast.

The gala committee included Lonna Wais, Michele Goss, Marie and George Hecksher, Kendall Wilkinson Robinson and Gardner Robinson, and Kathryn and Bo Lasater.

Members of the Young Collectors Committee counted Christine Aylward, Christopher Bass, Brendan Dyson, Deborah Lee Minor, Kathryn Retzer and Wheeler Simmons.

Oh, and there are the antiques.  This year, over 70 international dealers showed their best, artistically displayed and all vetted by the Antique Dealers Association of California.
Champagne View - East
Among the NY dealers:  Helen Fioratti of L’Antiquaire & The Connoisseur, Amy Perlin Antiques, Kentshire Galleries, Mallet (of London, too), and Dillingham & Company.  Jewelry designer Pamela Johananoff, a former NYer, flew in from her Paris home to help fellow designer David Morris of Palm Beach and London.

I bumped into John Loring at the John Berggruen Gallery. We both admired the 1946 Picasso drawing, Portrait de Femme, of our mutual friend – the thriving artist Françoise Gilot who is also mother of Tiffany’sjewelry designer Paloma Picasso. 

Loring, Design Director of Tiffany & Company, flew in to lecture about his book Tiffany Flora & Fauna at Filoli, the 654-acre estate in Woodside (30 miles south of San Francisco) that was the Carrington Mansion in that 80’s TV-series Dynasty starring John Forsythe, Linda Evans, and Joan Collins.

Sotheby’s Auction House underwrote a lecture series that included NY curator/advisor Derek Ostergard (my favorite lecturer when I attended Sotheby’s Institute), speaking about “The Triumph of Elitism:  Modernism and Luxury Trades in Paris, 1914-1939.” 

Other lecturers included John Ward, from Sotheby’s Silver Department; Martin Chapman, curator of European decorative arts at SF Palace Legion of  Honor; and Ulrich Leben of the Rothschild Collection at Waddeson Manor in England.

The Designers Circle included Suzanne Tucker (Chair), Ann Getty and Associates, Shelby and Jorge De Quesada, Douglas Durkin Design, David Kensington, Jean Larette Design, Kendal Wilkinson Design, the Wiseman Group, Steven Volpe, and NY’s Peter Pennoyer Architects.    

What’s great about this party is that it attracts a mix of ages, lots of young collectors, and creates so much energy and excitement that no one wants to leave. Promises of “See you next October” were on everyone’s lips when they begrudgingly headed home.
Joy Venturini Bianchi visits Mallet's experts
Andre de Baubigny, Jr., Randi and Robert Fisher, and Juliet de Baubigny
Alexis and Trevor Traina - new announcement
Decorator Paul Wiseman and dealer Collier Gwin
Collector Ann Getty
Jet-Set Collector Dodie Rosecrans
Nan Tucker McEvoy and Andrew Fisher
Barbara and Chief Justice Ronald George
Italian-born Maria Manetti Farrow
Kathryn Lasater - Co-chair of Young Collectors with husband Bo
Kendall and Gardner Robinson- Preview Party Chair
Therese Post, bi-costal designer Ed Lobrano, and OJ Shansby
LA couple Laurie and Paul MacCaskill
Gallery owner John Berggruen of the famed art family
Ghislain d'Humieres, Sybille Watel, Wheeler Simmons, and Millen Griffith
Silver Anniversary
NY's Derek Ostergard lectures
Bonhams & Butterfield's Patrick Meade and wife Jennifer
Gail and Dr. Harvey Glasser
Lucy Jewett and son George Jewett
Auction house chiefs Laura King Pfaff and Jennifer Beiderbeck
Paul Pelosi Jr. and Allison Speer
Brunno and Urannia Ristow
Lindsay Bolton - Connoisseur Circle Co-chair '06
Founder Toby Rose and Show Director Terry Grant
New director Lisa Podos with husband Michael Wais
Georgie Keller, Bruce Tremayer, and Karen Caufield at Therien - French terra-cotta sphinxes
Colorado's Bill Evans with Judy Long, back home after Palm Beach
Roth Martin of Hedge Gallery
Obsolete
Eliza Cash, Lisa Goldman, Mary White, and Patsy Lurie
Miles of aisles of antiques
A quick look around at the merchandise
Dede Wilsey tests the merchandise
Former Mayor of San Francisco Frank Jordan
Barbara Brown
Ned and Kathy Topham
Gerry Grodsky and Roberta Sherman
Gail de Martini and Tom Kravis
Dorothy and Ken Paige
Joe Tiffany with NYer John Loring lectures at Filoli Mansion
Jane and Dean Woodman
Heading home happy
San Francisco Antiquarian

For such a vibrant young city, San Franciscans love their antiques. They browse, read, buy and even party ‘antiques.’ Here are just two events that prove where antiques are concerned; you can never be too rich or too hungry.

Book Party of Style

Best selling author Diane Dorrans Saeks signed her latest book, California Country Style (Chronicle Books) at Urban Chateau, the antique store founded by Dr. Terry Gross and her daughter Lisa Gross Erikson.

Located in the San Francisco Design Center, a sort of designer super mall, Urban Chateau imports 17th, 18th, and 19th Century fine antiques and works of art from France, Italy, and throughout Europe.

“It’s an exciting time in San Francisco. With the investment and hi-tech fortunes, there is great interest in interior design and architecture,” Diane explains.  “It’s a golden age for design.”     

Diane certainly has made her impact in the design world.  She lectures on design, is editor to magazines such as C (for California) magazine, Garden Design, and Metropolitan Home, as well as writing features focusing on interior design, architecture, style, gardens, travel and fashion.

I’m sure you’ve seen her books; she’s published 19 so far. There’s San Francisco: A Certain Style, California Cottages, California Wine Country, San Francisco Style, Michael S. Smith: Elements of StyleHollywood Style,Seaside Style and Country Interiors.

Many are published by Chronicle Books, owned by Nion McEvoy of the family who once owned The San Francisco Chronicle, now owned by Hearst Communications. Others are from Rizzoli and Taschen, who recently re-opened a bookstore on Green Street in Soho in Manhattan.

“I love to observe interior design in California, it’s one of my greatest pleasures to see and write about talent,” Diane noted.  That said, I imagine there are many more books on the way.

All the antiques here reminded me of the opening night of the Fall Antiques Show some months back.  Since every body’s been asking about it, I dug out my notes and went to work.
Author Diane Dorrans Saeks signs latest book, California
HGTV designer Grant Gibson with Sarah Fraser and Jane Resnick
Diane Dorrans Saeks with Terry Gross and Lisa Gross Erick
Designer Jean Larette with Katherine Pearson, contributing editor for House Beautiful
Dorrans Saeks latest - California Country Style (Chronicle Books)
Leaving the SF Design Center

Photographs by Tom Gibbons and Jeanne Lawrence