It turned very cold yesterday in New York
Decorating the trees in front of The Seagrams Building. Photo: JH.
Prince Dimitri
For a few minutes there, in the late morning, there were flurries of snow in different parts of Manhattan. Walking up Fifth after lunch at Michael’s, the wind was whistling down the avenue.

In the early evening, I went with a small television crew from A&E to a cocktails and private viewing at Salvador Assael’s salon on 40th Street and Fifth Avenue. The viewing was of Assael’s exclusive jewelry and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia’s new creations for Assael.

Prince Dimitri, in explaining Assael to the A&E cameras, said that “Salvador Assael is to pearls what Harry Oppenheimer (DeBeers) was to diamonds.” The prince, who has been designing and manufacturing jewelry with his business partner for the past several years, has been selling at Bergdorf’s. It was his line there that inspired Assael to have Dimitri design a line using pearls.
Salvador Assael's million-dollar pearl necklaces
There were about forty guests, when we arrived, including Pamela Gross and Jimmy Finkelstein, Noel and Harriette Levine and the fabled Baroness von Langerwall who is often seen around town, her belle pointrine accessorized with ropes of emeralds or rubies or diamonds or pearls; and all the real McCoy my dears.

Salvador Assael (right) and friend
I asked Mr. Assael, who is legendary in the circles of those who love and collect important jewelry, how he got started in the business of pearls. Answer: he started out as a pearl diver. In Australia. The most obvious answer of all.

Dimitri and Mr. Assael showed us around, with the A&E camera following right behind. We saw pearl necklaces, single strands that sell for more than a million dollars. Then Mr. Assael took us across the room to see a 450-carat emerald from 14th-century India, made for the Mogul of India. Mr. Assael bought the stone from the Maharajah of Jaipur. It is not for sale but instead going to a museum.

The camera following us was for a segment of A&E’s Meet the Royals, which will air on December 21. This segment deals with what they call American “royalty.” They came to me for a view of the Diary’s world where a lot of these “royals” allegedly roam. From a technical point of view, the term is an oxymoron. The royals in this country are the rich. Period; end of story.
A 450-carat emerald from 14th-century India, made for the Mogul of India
Pamela Gross
Umberto Penci, Dolores Smithies, and Pierre Scapula
DPC introduces Prince Dimitri's line for Assael to A&E ...
After Prince Dimitri’s preview, we had to go north to The Plaza. There were no available cabs, so it was a cold walk of nineteen blocks. Cold wind beating against my face, so cold your face stiffens. Today’s exercise.

Steve and Sharyn Mann
At the hotel the Food Allergy Initiative was holding its annual fund raising gala. This organization was started a little more than five years ago by a woman named Sharyn Mann who has a daughter who has a serious food allergy that almost killed her. Food allergies are proliferating in our current environment.

There are six million Americans that we know of who are vulnerable to food allergy reactions. The Food Allergy Initiative supports research to find a way of preventing anaphylactic episodes, educating families with allergic members, awareness programs for schools, restaurants, and airlines; and public policy initiatives on a variety of issues involving food allergies.

This year they raised more than $2.5 million. In the five years since Sharyn Mann first told me of her idea of starting the FAI and raising funds for research, they’ve raised more than $12 million. The project is a brilliant example of how one person can transform an issue from death to life and share it with the world.
David and Julia Koch, Sharyn Mann, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mary Richardson Kennedy, and Todd Slotkin
The Grand Ballroom of The Plaza
So there we were cameras and all in the marble and gilt reception lobby of The Plaza, with hordes of the black ties and designer gowns passing through. Cameras flashing as the parade moved on to the elevators and grand staircase leading to the grand ballroom.

The staircase was lined with violinists playing melodies from the Lerner and Loewe musical. The ballroom itself was decorated with images from the Cecil Beaton designed film production of My Fair Lady, the ceiling swathed with bolts alternating black and white, the tables’ centerpieces, the black and white parasol Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) twirled on screen.

This was the same ballroom where Truman Capote held his famous black and white ball (also inspired by Beaton’s Fair Lady creation) in 1966. For the sake of the fundraising this time around, however, there was no floor for dancing as they needed the space to fill the tables that had been sold for the occasion.

After the “ball” had started, I cut out with the A&E crew.
Outside the square around The Plaza Fountain is now resplendent in holiday decorations. It was beautiful on this brisk and cold night and fortunately there were yellow taxis arriving to pick us up to take back to our nice warm apartments.
Ronnie Heyman and friends
Inga Rennert
Linda and Ilan Kaufthal
L. to r.: Drew and Ann Nieporent with Mary Richardson Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy; My Fair Ladies.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel had its official opening the night before last, benefiting City Harvest, the food re-distribution service which feeds so many of us in need every day here in New York.

I’d been up to the Mandarin a couple of times already. The views are the dominating theme to any visitor. They are spectacular at capturing the majestically awesome glass and concrete massiveness of the City. The Mandarin’s view are “new” views to most New Yorkers, except to the lucky ones who live on the south and western periphery bordering Central Park.

Summoning the guests for dinner
There were about 800 guests for this evening. Billy Joel was slated to perform, which he did, or so I was told, but only after I’d left to go hear another singer, Yanna Avis, open her act at the King Kong Room of the Supper Club. The atmosphere at the Mandarin reception was fun. People were having a good time just being there, hanging out grand, with a plentiful supply of wines, champagnes and cocktails, and long buffet tables of exotic and Asian foods. The public rooms with their sensational views are grand and sleek. There was waitstaff everywhere and several bars. Many of the women dressed for the “Oriental” theme; many men in black tie. There was a sense of holiday in the air.

JH’s Digital conked out last night and so I took mine along. As I’ve written before, there is something compellingly subversive about having a camera at a party. It diverts you from inert conversation and frees you up to have a good look. Also: People are very camera oriented now. For decades after the popular introduction of the camera, people were very often stiff standing before its lens. Not anymore. Everybody’s flashing smile. The world’s the photographer’s oyster.
Susan Gutfreund
Gina Lollobrigida
Jonathan and Joy Ingham
Felicia Taylor
Helena Lehane
Jonathan and Angela Dahl
blonde on blonde ...
... on blonde
George Wayne
CJ Satterwhite
Nancy Novogrod
Gary Pudney and Joanna Carson
Harriet Weintraub and David Tang
Angela Rich
Marjorie Reed Gordon, Susan DeFrance, and Ann Sutherland Fuchs

Yesterday: First signs of snow
The Empire State Building. 10:30 AM.
The Empire State Building. 12:05 PM.

Photographs by JH & DPC /


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