Thursday, January 15, 2015

Palm Beach Social Diary

At the finale of the Oscar de la Renta Spring 2015 Collection, the Hospice Foundation's 270 guests gave the late remarkable designer a lengthy ovation. Bravo Oscar!
Oscar Finale @ The Flagler + Polo @ Gulfstream + Zang @ Saks + Wine Class @ Paramount + Ta-Ta Testa's
By Augustus Mayhew

Palm Beach's annual social pow-wow is underway with fourteen events on this week's social calendar; the following week, twenty-four charitable opportunities. The Town Council election for two seats is scheduled for next month. There is talk of civility as lawn signs dot the landscape.

Hospice Evening 2015 @ The Flagler Museum
Saks Fifth Avenue presents Oscar de la Renta Spring 2015 Collection

Hospice Evening 2015, invitation.
During the spring of 1963, only a few weeks after showing his first New York collection for Elizabeth Arden, the 31-year-old designer Oscar de la Renta made his first visit to Palm Beach. At the time, de la Renta told The Shiny Sheet, "I design clothes for women to wear. I am not interested in shock tactics. I just want to make beautiful clothes." The following season, he returned to show his spring collection at the Everglades Club.

Fifty years later, and only three months after his passing on October 20 2014, Saks presented the iconic designer's final collection as part of the Hospice Evening 2015 held recently at The Flagler Museum. I had planned to see the de la Renta show last season, held in Miami to benefit the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. For whatever reason I missed it, so it was serendipitous that I was able to see his Spring 2015 Collection.
Hospice Evening 2015. Whitehall, a view from the other side of the gate.
Whitehall was covered in blue lights, outside and inside.
In keeping with the event's theme, guests were photographed at the entrance on a makeshift stage with floor microphones and a backdrop titled "Motown - Hitsville USA."
The offical receiving line.
Hospice Evening Committee, 2015.
Grand Hall, a view from the staircase landing toward the entrance.
Guests rubbed elbows at Whitehall's intimate Grand Hall.
Grand Hall, a view from the south staircase.
Mary and Joe Webster.
Grand Hall, a view looking north.
The Grand Hall affords minimal seating; these guests were the fortunate ones.
Grand Hall, a view of the double staircase.
Grand Hall, a view of the vestibule leading to the north hall.
Mary Lily "Bessie" Kenan Flagler Bingham, the third Mrs. Flagler, was said to be the nation's wealthiest widow ($60,000,000) following the death of her first husband Henry Flagler. Before her own untimely mysterious death in 1917, shortly after her marriage to Robert Worth Bingham, she had acquired a substantial jewelry collection, according to an estate inventory published in March 1918. Along with her railroad car, her Packard, her stash of furs at Revillon ($7,035), her cache included: a medium-length string of 111 pearls ($200,000); a string of 51 pearls with a diamond clasp ($122,000); and a third string of 213 pearls of graduated sizes ($75,000).
The south end of the Grand Hall leads to the Ballroom and the West Room where the fashion show was held.
Robert Nederlander and Pat Cook.
Vicky Hunt. Sue Samour, marketing manager @ Saks Fifth Avenue, 172 Worth Avenue.
Saks Fifth Avenue presents the Oscar de la Renta Spring 2015 Collection
Flagler Museum – West Room, 1925 hotel addition
The fashion show was staged in the West Room, the 1925 hotel addition to Whitehall..
Backstage, the models were studying their lines.
The collection, racked and ready.
Models make their final preps. The metallic embroidered silk faille cocktail dress is $6,990.
Guests made their way to their seats.
Michelle and Howard Kessler.
Steven Stolman.
Co-chairman Mark Cook welcomes guests and introduces Boaz Mazor.
Boaz Mazor, far right, reads from a prepared speech about Oscar de la Renta.
Oscar de la Renta Spring 2015: The Final Collection
Standing ovation!
Hospice Foundation of Palm Beach, 2015.
Dinner @ Flagler Kenan Pavilion
Guests walked from the West Room over to the Flagler Kenan Pavilion, inspired by the design of 19th century Beaux-Arts railway palaces.
Guests enter the Flagler Kenan Pavilion.
The room was set for dinner and the stage ready for a Motown review of The Temptations.
Tables were set with the first course.
Flagler Kenan Pavilion, view toward the stage.
The centerpieces were simply spectacular.
Gulfstream Polo Club opens season
Azqueta Field – 4550 Polo Road, Lake Worth

Ninety years ago, and about ten miles from its present location near Wellington, John S. Phipps and his sons established Gulfstream Polo at the oceanfront community of the same name. When development pressure arrived during the 1960s, Gulfstream Polo moved to its existing location. Recently, there was talk the club may have sold to developer K Hovanian. "The contract fell through," said manager Marla Conner," and we expect Gulfstream Polo to continue play for at least the next several years."
Gulfstream Polo Club, Azqueta Field. C. J. Martin riding Roxanna for his Taylor Hill Farm team from Redding, Connecticut at GSPC's first match of the season.
Gulfstream Polo is a players club. Thus, matches are in a relaxed setting without the frills or trappings that today are associated with the game of polo.
There are no box seats at the Gulfstream Polo Club.
These are the best seats at the Gulfstream Polo Club.
C. J. Martin's Taylor Hill Farm defeated Mt. Airy 10-8.
Mom's Kitchen, 7478 Lake Worth Road. Located a short drive from the Gulfstream polo fields, Mom's is where you will run into most everyone from Wellington's equestrian community.
Zang Toi's Spring 2015 @ Saks Fifth Avenue
172 Worth Avenue – Palm Beach

Saks Fifth Avenue welcomed the ever-animated Zang Toi and his Spring 2015 "A Privileged Life: The American Dream" Collection to its upstairs Worth Avenue salon. The House of Toi's brand of international glamour turns heads whether at a dimly lit candlelight dinner or the focus of a blinding burst of flashbulbs at a red carpet event. For ZT's unrestrained "elegant simplicity," all the world's a stage, whether a New York runway, Monte Carlo casino, or South Ocean Boulevard loggia.
The World of Zang Toi converged on SFA's Worth Avenue salon.
ZT credits Anna Wintour for launching his career twenty-five years ago when Vogue decreed Zang Toi was a "designer to watch."
The intricate beadwork is of particular note.
Beneath the chandeliers, Zang Toi with two of his gala gowns. To the left, the purple-and-black silk organza orchid gown is of note.
ZT gives a modern twist to preppy stripes and linen suits.
Pearly whites accessorize this spectacular floor-length orchid gown.
Zang Toi. "Palm Beach Grande Dame."
ZT reinterpreted the skirt that first caught Vogue's eye in 1989, offering for his 25th anniversary, an up-to-the-minute silver version with a dense jade jacket.
Scene around SFA
Brunello Cucinello.
Ralph Lauren.
Wine Class:
The French Wine Merchant @ Paramount Building

The searchlight openings and the Golden Horseshoe seating have long since vanished but the Paramount Theatre building's functional innovative design and Mediterranean Moderne architecture are reminders of an era when Palm Beach was known for its progressive style. Known as the Sunrise Building when it was completed in December 1926 by a company whose directors included E. F. Hutton, Leonard Replogle, and A. J. Drexel Biddle, the Paramount's 1,200 seat theater may have been its main attraction but its shops were comparable to Worth Avenue and the Beaux-Arts Building.

Along with architect Joseph Urban's studio and Gurnee Munn's real estate office, Hattie Carnegie and Helena Rubenstein gave residents and window shoppers good reason to visit the complex. The theatre closed in 1968. Although it reopened in 1972, the era of matinees and movie nights had gone the way of the silents.

During the early 1980s, the property was offered to the Town of Palm Beach. By then, the popular Patio restaurant next door was destined to become a parking lot. Since then there has been a revolving door of owners, though today it is seemingly stabilized by the presence of a church.

Among the Paramount's current attractions, The French Wine Merchant shop founded by Maurice Amiel, a former entrepreneur in the New York fashion business who several years ago retired to Palm Beach only to find he couldn't find good French wines. Voila! Amiel's wine tastings held every other Friday night have become a popular allure for the complex that has always had locational struggles.
Maurice Amiel's wine shop offers an array of French imports.
While Prohibition put a damper on public sales of alcohol at Palm Beach, once Florida repealed the ban in 1933, Berlin Griffin quickly cornered the Palm Beach liquor market. Although the resort's bars and clubs were free of curfews, except during the war restrictions between 1943 and 1945, package stores closed at 1 am. With locations on North and South County Road, as well as Sunset Avenue, Berlin Griffin offered a "Night Phone" and "24 Hour Delivery Service."
During the 1920s, Palm Beach's undeveloped North End beach was a popular landing spot for rumrunners and bootleggers who brought over their contraband spirits from Nassau.
The top shelf at the French Wine Merchant. Cordier. Chateau Talbot. St. Julien, 1976-1978.
More top shelf offerings. Chateau La Legune, 1969; Chateau Gruaud-La Roses, 1975; Chateau Gloria St. Julien, 1981.
Friday Night Wine Tastings @ French Wine Merchant
The French Wine Merchant is located on the north Sunrise Avenue side of the Paramount Building.
Guests settle into the Paramount's beautifully-designed courtyard during the wine tastings.
The Paramount courtyard.
The shop is painted in Veuve Clicquot orange tint.
The menu for a recent wine tasting.
Ray's Champagne Bar. 277 Main Street, Palm Beach. C. 1935.
"The Bordeauxs are my specialty," said Amiel.
The wine tasting appeared to attract a multi-generational crowd.
Maurice Amiel, left, thinks before answering a guest's question about rosé.
Ta-Ta Testa's

With Testa's demolition permit approved and its latest drawings for a commercial-residential mixed use complex approved by ARCOM, after years of debate, it appears the landmark Testa's (Since 1921) will be destroyed at the end of this season. Here is a last look at the restaurant and Via Testa.
Testa's, 221 Royal Poinciana Way.
Adjacent to the restaurant, Via Testa is a complex of shops and the Leidy Images Gallery.
Leidy Images. Photographer Chris Leidy focuses on all things underwater.
Of note. Leidy Images.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Lost in Wonderland – Reflections on Palm Beach.