Friday, June 10, 2011

San Francisco Social Diary

On the sandy beaches of Baker Beach.
by Jeanne Lawrence

San Francisco — People were clamoring for tickets to “An Evening with Carolina Herrera,” the first fashion show staged at the San Francisco Symphony’s Davies Hall in 25 years and well worth the wait!

Neiman-Marcus doesn’t usually do fashion outside of the store. But I heard that President of the SF Symphony League Sallie Huntting got the ear of Neiman-Marcus’s GM John Capizzi on one of those morning commutes on the Sausalito/San Francisco Ferry morning commutes and made a convincing case for the spectacular fundraiser.
San Francisco Symphony Davies Hall.
The evening was a blend of high fashion and musical passion, since it also served as a kickoff event for the highly anticipated September 7, 2011 gala in honor of the San Francisco Symphony’s Centennial.

Slinking down a catwalk built for the occasion, models put on a show that was a twin to the one that introduced the Herrera fall 2011 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.

Though traffic was backed up everywhere — President Obama was in town meeting with Silicon Valley movers and shakers — that didn’t stop the Herrera fans.
Marsha Goldman, designer Carolina Herrera, and John Goldman (SF Symphony President.
SFS Executive Director Brent Assink and Jan Assink.
GM of Neiman Marcus John Capizzi sponsored and produced the runway show. Marsha and John Goldman stand in front of a Carolina creation.
Elli Killebrew, Rhea Friend, and Gail Glasser in front of SFS Davies Hall.
Earlier in the day, Sally Debenham hosted a small luncheon for Carolina at the private Villa Taverna Club. The two have been friends since the late Bill Blass introduced them about 40 years ago.

“Caroline is the only one who can make me feel I may not have everything quite right,” Sally confided, “ because her appearance is impeccable. She’s her own best advertisement!”

Patricia Ferrin Loucks was the event chair, and dinner co-chairs were Elizabeth Folger and Victoria Yeager Sawyer.
Linda Zider and Jeanne Lawrence. Nanci and Gary Fredkin.
Lucy Buchanan, Katie Jarman, and Marsha Monro.
Bruno and Urania Ristow. Dinner Co-Chair Victoria Yeager Sawyer and Adrian Sawyer.
Those who anted up for the $500 ticket were invited to mingle with Herrera pre-cocktails — before she ran off to orchestrate the show.

Symphony Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye & The Unit delighted the audience and showed their range by performing jazz selections as the warm-up to the fashion parade.

There were a surprising number of men in the fashion show audience. Though in part their approving nods were meant for the models, I bet they also appreciated the elegant and sophisticated clothing designs. In a city-appropriate palette of neutrals and grays, they give the wearer more than a touch of class.
Riccardo Benavides, Tanya Powell, Claudia Ross, and Elizabeth Touw.
Karen Sutherland and Ricky Serbin. O.J. and Gary Shansby.
Linda Zider, Chandra Friese, and Barbara Walkowski.
Chic Carolina took such a quick bow at the end that I didn’t even see what she was wearing. But I caught up with her at dinner. She was seated with John Capizzi and Marcia and John Goldman — he’s the Symphony president who has just been appointed to the Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Couture collector Joy Venturini Bianchi said, “I have a major collection of Carolina’s clothes. I save and wear them all.” (Herrera, you may recall, designed clothes for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and designed Caroline Kennedy’s wedding gown.)
Patricia and Charles Sprincin. Ted and Pamala Deikel with Daru Kawalkowski.
Heidi Betz and Scotty Morris.
Jim Schneider and Barbara Brookins-Schneider with Peter and Kaylea Bakker.
Charles Loucks and Patricia Ferrin Loucks (Fashion Show Chair). Sally Debenham hosted a luncheon for Herrera.
Yuri and Karl Pascarella, Ann Fisher, and New Yorker Judith Churchill.
Natalia Urrutia, Victoria Yeager Sawyer and Brenda Zarate, and Jan Harris.
Looking ahead to the yearlong centennial celebration, Board Member Barbara Brookins-Schneider told me it will be one-of-a-kind. All the ‘Big 6’ orchestras — the San Francisco Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia Symphonies — will perform. So will pianist Lang Lang and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

The show is almost sold out — but music-lovers who do manage to score tickets will have memories for a lifetime!
Herrera’s Runway show was the same production from the Fall NY Fashion Week.

The Junior League of San Francisco (JLSF) kicked off its centennial celebration with its annual, beloved fashion show.

As always, the show was not only a visual treat but also a fun, family event, since the runway “models” are Junior League members and their families.

So what if the opening coincided with opening day for the San Francisco Giants, darlings of the town for winning the World Series last year? There wasn’t an empty spot in the ballroom.
Junior League celebrates its 100th anniversary at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill.
Panoramic views from the terrace of the Penthouse Suite terrace in the Fairmont.
The Penthouse suite “a mansion in the sky” with 6,000 sq. feet.
That didn’t surprise me, since the gala is a venerable Bay City tradition. Not only was this the 85th anniversary of the show, but also its 52nd appearance at the historic Nob Hill Fairmont Hotel and the 23rd year it was produced by Macy’s. The Fairmont, Macy’s and PayPal were the event sponsors.

Also traditionally, the event includes both a luncheon and a black-tie gala dinner dance. I was at the latter, where a VIP reception was held in the Fairmont’s penthouse — its “mansion in the sky.” Once the home of former owner Ben Swig, today it rents for $15,000 a night.

Thanks to the splendid weather, the ladies didn’t need wraps when they went onto the Penthouse terrace to enjoy the sweeping views of downtown San Francisco. Other guests sipped and chatted in the Moorish-inspired billiard room, the second-floor library, and the sprawling formal dining room.
Alex Skillman, Nicole Bonar, Lillian Phan, Liza Gershman, Kelly O'Reilly, Jennifer Marples, Loree Dowse, and Wendy Simon Armstrong.
Schuyler Hudak, 2011 Fashion Chair Maggie Stack King, and Wendy Simon Armstrong.
Anne Marie Massocca, Victoria Yeager Sawyer, and Layne Gray.
Matt and Carrie Levy.
Kelly Grimes wearing a Victor Tung design. David Demarest and Lorrae Rominger.
Nick and Courtney Bocci with Debra Leylegian.
Mai Shiver with David and Catherine Markwell.
Layne Gray and Michelle Curtis.
The Billiard Room is covered with Persian tile, from floor to vaulted ceiling.
Having fun!
Dressed for Spring.
The two-story circular library with its celestial ceiling map.
The exotic dining room.
After hitting the silent auction, I headed backstage. Watching the makeup and hairdressing artists working on the League’s models was an entertainment of its own.

In the ballroom, the white canvas tablecloths and blue lighting were ethereal, but what everyone had really come to see was the show itself.

All the participants — men and women, kids and teens, and chairwoman Maggie Stack King — were strutting and scintillating like pros, thanks to model trainer Charleston Pierce and celebrity stylist Keylee Sanders (Style Studio).
The popular silent auction.
Behind the scenes.
Venture Capitalist Joanna Rees might be running for mayor.
The show included eclectically themed segments such as “Rachel Roy,” Mad Men,” “Ocean View,” “Rain Forest,” “Urban Island,” “Studio 54,” and “Diamonds Are Forever.” The clothes featured Sue Wong, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein gowns to gush over.

This year, someone had the inspired idea to transform the Terrace Room into a luxurious lounge area for dancing, mingling and relaxing after the show.
Melodie Pacheco and event designer Ken Fisken.
Joy Venturini Bianchi and Victoria Holgerson.
Lynn Lubbock, Merrill Kasper, and Marsha Monro.
Alex Skillman, Joel Goodrich, and Kelly Grimes.
Junior League supporters love this event, which gives them the chance to support pals on the runway and also a variety of worthy causes. This year, beneficiaries included Compass Community Services, The Homeless Prenatal Program, The International Rescue Committee, La Casa de las Madres, The Ronald McDonald House, Sequoia Healthy Start, and Support for Families of Children with Disabilities.

Over the last 100 years, the JLSF has provided more than 6 million volunteer hours and in excess of $22 million to the community through direct grants, advocacy and member training and development.
2011 Fashion Chair Maggie Stack King leads models down runway.
Swimsuits are always popular with the men. Mad Men influence.
Kim Hooker. Jennifer Marples.
The Finale.

It’s hard to choose what I like best about San Francisco, but its natural beauty is at the top of the list. In the sun, and even in the rain, it’s spectacular: just take a look at these photos.

From my Nob Hill home, in the center of the city, it’s just a short ride to one of my favorite city hikes that begins at Crissy Field located in the Presidio. The Spanish colonists established in 1776 and in 1915 it became a military airfield that was later abandoned until 1994 when it became a national park.
Our hike begins at Crissy Fields with views of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point.
Today it’s a recreational area where you can hike, bike, jog, fish, swim, sun, meet friends at the café with its book and gift shop, wind and kite surfers, plus plenty of other activities for all ages.

From here we walk through the Presidio and its forest of trees planted in the late 1800s, through sandy beaches of Baker Beach, on the streets of the residential area of Sea Cliff, lined with mansions, and the Lands End Costal trail where you feel you feel you’re away from it all.

We often end the walk with a stop at the Cliff House for breakfast, coffee or a drink and marvel at our view overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Ocean Beach. Here is a perfect spot to watch the sun set.
In 1915 Crissy Fields became a military airfield in the Presidio army base.
The abandoned airfield in 1994 became part of the federal Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The area has been restored to its natural wetland habitat. Native plans, water birds, and panoramic views abound.
The park has 800 areas of open space and 145 acres of native plants.
We pass through the Sea Cliff residential area lined with mansions with views.
We pause to read the China Beach marker.
The wild and rocky Lands End Costal trail.
Thick cypress tress surround the trail.
There are many scenic overlooks.
Views of San Francisco from Crissy Field on a sunny day.
Baker Beach is a popular beach with its expanse of sandy beaches and views.
The walk meanders through thick forest of eucalyptus, cypress and pine trees.
Nature’s sculpture.
Unparalleled views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands across the Bay.
Ruins of the 1896 the Sutro Baths, once the world's largest indoor swimming pool.
Our final destination, the Cliff House, where we grab a cup of coffee.
The perfect spot to watch the sunset in the west.
And find time for a little romance.

A group of San Franciscans flew in to New York to attend American Ballet Theatre annual Spring Gala with Honorary Chairs Carolina Herrera, Caroline Kennedy and Blaine Trump.

Earlier in the day, Pamela Joyner and Angelique Griepp hosted a luncheon in the gazebo-like dining room at the private Cosmopolitan club in the Upper East Side to celebrate.
The graceful staircase in the Cosmopolitan Club.
The venue was the Sunroom where you felt you were in an aerial gazebo.
Hostess Pamela Joyner and Gina Chu.
Deepa Pakianathan and Hostess Angelique Griepp.
Jeanne Lawrence and Deepa Pakianathan.
Alicia Blythewood, Rosemary Baker, and Sky Nellor.
Paige Rolfe with Holly Peterson in from London.
Photographs by Jeanne Lawrence & Moanalani Jeffrey

*Urbanite Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in San Francisco, Shanghai, and New York, and wherever else she finds a good story.