Palm Beach Days & Nights
Storm clouds moving in from the northeast over Beth DeWoody's swimming pool. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.
The Boys Club of New York held a luncheon fashion show at Mar-a-lago last Friday in the grand ballroom that Mr. Trump built after acquiring the legendary Palm Beach property built more than eighty years ago by Post Toasties heiress Marjorie Meriweather Post Close Hutton Davies May.

The house that predated Walt Disney only in terms of the calendar, was designed by Joseph Urban, the great New York theatrical designer who also designed several theatres. It is so over-the-top that I am always reminded of my childhood imagination of what a really fabulous castle in the tropics would be like. To think that it is a large and thriving club (and inn of sorts) only serves to increase its wonder considering that its original chatelaine who commissioned it lived here and entertained in the kind of grandeur that has ignited revolutions in other eras.

The Trump Ballroom complements and updates Mrs. Post’s lifestyle with its gold and cream and gilt and crystal and gold. It is very appropriate for all kinds of grand Palm Beach occasions that bring out the very rich who inhabit this sliver of sand and palms and flora and fauna.
Jackie Williams, who’s the current president of the Women’s Board of the Boys Club told me they cleared $200,000 for this lunch. There were about twenty tables of ten of ladies and one big table of gents (husbands, many of whom were picking up the tab). Because we had so much on our agenda in the short time we were there, we decided to skip the lunch and just catch at piece of the runway action and get some photos of the guests.
JH shooting the Chanel runway
The new Chanel line is a combination of the great timeless classic ideas that made the couture house famous for three quarters of a century now mingled with a fashion notion (what looked like denim cut-offs) of teenage American girls in the 1950s. Looking around the room at the scores of women who can afford and would be inclined to buy Chanel, I wondered who would buy the “cut-offs” or the look they entailed. A smart woman, a chic woman could definitely make very effective use of certain pieces of this line although many numbers looked so consciously déclassé I couldn’t help wondering if the designer was making a joke. On somebody.
Gillian Miniter, Muffy Miller, and Carol Bell
Barbara Cirvka
Emilia Fanjul and Hilary Ross
Joyce Sterling and Melinda Hassen
Dana Stubgen
Sharon Hoge
Betty Tilghman and Jackie Williams
Pat Wood
Robert Janjigian
Candy Hamm
Cece Black and Karen Clark
Thorunn Wathne
Pauline Pitt
Audrey Gruss and Jessie Araskog
Shafi Roepers
Karen Glover
Serena Boardman
Allie Hanley and Nonie Sullivan
Grace Meigher and Barbara Bancroft
Stephanie Ercklentz and Merrill Hanley
Mary Hilliard and Lourdes Fanjul
Jill Roosevelt and Caroline Dean
Jean Tailer
Sheila and Alexandra Kotur
Joan Schnitzer Levy and Mai Harrison
Wilbur Ross and Brad Zervas
Donald Miller and Robert "Stretch" Gardiner
Marvin Davidson and Walter Noel
Rand Araskog and Michael Ainslie
Lee Hanley and Dick Pearman
Libby Fitzgerald and Jill Roosevelt
Carolyn Broadhead and Cornelia Ercklentz
Tracy Mansur and Mary Ourisman
Mary Davidson and Maggy Scherer
Frayda Lindemann and Monica Noel
Emilia Fanjul, Serena Boardman, and Robert Janjigian watching the fashion show
Leaving the grand ballroom, we took a brief tour of this fantastical behemoth which began abuilding in 1922 and was completed at the cost of $8 million (or more than twenty-five times that in today’s dollars). 17 acres, 100 rooms and a 75-foot tower, along with lakeside cottages, a nine-hole golf course, citrus groves, greenhouses, pool and an underground tunnel (under the roadway) to the beach, Mrs. Post had every little thing a lucky houseguest could wish for, including major entertainments and frequently square dancing after dinner. The now famous Palm Beach Red Cross Ball was originally held at Mar-a-lago.
The main Salon at Mar-a-lago

After Mrs. Post died the house became a white (pink actually) elephant and the heirs (including her daughter by E. F. Hutton, actress Dina Merrill) even offered it to the US Government to use as a Florida Presidential residence. Richard Nixonwho was president at the time, toured the place but the offer was never accepted. Fifty-eight years after it was built, Donald Trump purchased the whole she-bang in a master-stroke of real estate prescience for $7 million ($5 million for the house and $2 million for the furnishings) and transformed it into a private club.

A tour of Mar-a-lago
After our camera tour of Mar-a-lago we went over to Le Tourneau on Worth Avenue to replace my broken watchband. Any shop you find on Worth Avenue is obviously high end. Le Tourneau which is known to carry the greatest watches in the world is a perfect example. So while waiting for the band to be replaced, we looked around.

JH engaged himself in the game of “what if” and tried on a couple of watches that he’d already found really appealing enough to entertain a purchase. We had a very interesting sales person who was quite happy to give us a tour of the cases.

Trying on the Franck Muller Tourbillon
I asked him if there were customers who shopped there frequently. Oh yes, there are watch collectors; something which makes sense but something I’d never thought of. In fact, he told us of one customer who has more than 3000 watches in his collection. Naturally I wondered WHO but he wouldn’t say. And what kind of watches, in what price range? Oh, only the very best, $3000 and up. Gawd.

Then I asked him what the most expensive watch in the store was. He showed us a Franck Muller Tourbillon. $165,895. (Plus tax, kid.) A watch like that often can take eight years to make and is obviously one-of-a-kind. Had they sold this in the store before? Oh yes, several times. Had the man who collects seen it? Oh, he owns several, our fascinating salesman told us.

JH photographed it front and back and I tried it on.
It didn’t grab me although just the thought of the price certainly did. I’ve owned several very nice watches in my life – all gifts over the years, and greatly appreciated. Two from Tiffany, a Patek Philippe, and a Breitling. Two of them I lost – literally fell off my wrist when the band broke and I didn’t realize it. Which is why I was anxious to replace the broken band of one of my watches now. I don’t quite understand the proud possession of a great number, let alone thousands, although I understand the pleasure in wearing a beautiful timepiece. However, collectors are a different breed of cat. The same man who owns more than 3000 watches also, we were told, collects automobiles. He must be very rich. Palm Beach is a perfect place for him.

Leaving Le Tourneau, we took a photographer’s stroll down Worth Avenue. JH got some shots of two of our sponsors – Graff and McLaughlin, as well as some shots of the Mizner-designed vias, the charming little alleyways/side streets that extend off the avenue where there all kinds of little shops, cafés, restaurants and art galleries.
The works of Addison Mizner
Via Demario
The Palm Beach mascot at the Russeck Gallery

It was very quiet for a Friday afternoon very possibly because there were heavy grey skies overhead promising rain. Back at Villa DeWoody within the hour, the downpour began.

Storm clouds over Lake Worth and Villa DeWoody
At quarter to seven in the evening we were back on Worth Avenue, this time dressed for the casual Palm Beach evening (blazer, open shirt) for Natalie Kalachnikoff and Lars Bolander’s cocktail party that they give every year to mark the opening of the Palm Beach International Antiques Show.

Regine Traulsen and Lars Bolander
The Kalachnikoff-Bolanders live in one of the great old Addison Mizner designed apartments located above the Worth Avenue shops. These apartments were constructed in the 1920s when Mizner was designing not only commercial buildings but also the now famous ultra-private (you’re not even supposed to mention its name in print) Everglades Club as well as many of the great beachfront mansions built during that era. To the contemporary eye they are a combination of the funky, the Mediterranean, the elegant and tropic grandeur worn by time. Excellent.

The Bolander party is a magnet for Palm Beach society, visiting dignitaries as well as the antiquaires who come to town from all over the world. Their apartment which is a series of rooms enfilade on the inside as well as through an part indoor/part outdoor passage full of flowering plants and palms as well as furnishings that are Bolander signatures.
Known for his light, classic Gustavian design sensibility, Bolander has a shop in Palm Beach and another one in New York (in the Meatpacking District on Gansevoort Street). He packs his shops full of traditional Swedish antiques, as well as English and French pieces from the 18th century through the 20th. A word to the wise-shopper from The New York Times: Wherever Bolander goes, "Bronfmans and Vanderbilts follow.

The cocktail party is a big draw
because of the hosts’ bonhomie. Elegant but relaxed, hail-fellow-well-met, it is a treat for neighbors, old friends and the resorts visitors to meet there.
Back on Worth Avenue at night.
Alexandra, Sheila, and Peter Kotur
Geoffrey Thomas, Sharon Sondes, and Geoffrey Bradfield
Kristi Witker and Dick Koons
Grace Meigher, Pauline Pitt, and Chris Meigher
Margo de Peyster and friend
Sharon Hoge
R. Couri Hay and Allison Weiss
Paula Weideger and friends
Nanette Kasler Valenti, Barbara Tapp, and Brooke Mason
Jon Barman and Kelly Graham
Pat Patterson, Alyne Massey, and Jackie Weld
Silas Chou, Hilary Ross, Celia Chou, and Wilbur Ross
Guests milling about
George Ryan and Gemma Closson
DPC, Tony Ingrao, and Randy Kemper
Interiors of Chez Bolander
Karl Wellner
DPC shows off his pearly whites
Sam Michaels and Frances Hayward
Regine Traulsen and Bill Diamond
Michel Witmer and Dr. Dino Rivera
Tom Quick and Barbara Bancroft
Fran Scaife and Tom McCarter
Cynthia Boardman
Liza Pulitzer
Nadia and Benjamin Steinitz
Nanette Kasler Valenti and Suzanne Kasler
Michel Witmer, Allison Weiss, and Frances Hayward
Helmut Kohler, Jurgen Heisblingman, Christina von Merveldt, and Geza von Habsburg
Mr. and Mrs. Dick Cowell
Pat Patterson and Karl Wellner
Richard Ziegelasch and René Marty
Steven Stolman and Earl Crittenden
Renee Wood and Jimmy Clark
Katherine Bryan and Herb Fitzgibbon
After a couple of hours of chat and picture-taking, we were off to a reservation at Café Boulud, the great Daniel Boulud’s fairly new (three or four years) restaurant in the Brazilian Court Hotel just a few blocks away.

Ordering champagne (why not; we’re in Palm Beach!), maitre d’ Joseph Schorr brought us a Braumet Grand Cru Brut – a label unfamiliar to this poorly informed part time epicure but remarkably deliciously mild and easily quaffed.

As can be expected, the dinner was brilliant. I started with a beet salad followed by the organic chicken. All sounds so simple, and simple it was, but rapturously flavorful. JH started with the Smoked Salmon and latkes and followed with the duck. Another touch, that is not found in New York, is the small trio that plays in the bar after ten o’clock. As we were leaving there was a lot of activity as well as some of the girls getting up to dance to the Caribbean rhythms.
Looking out at Café Boulud from the courtyard
Singing and dancing to the Caribbean rhythms
The dining room at Café Boulud
As we were leaving the restaurant, we ran into newlyweds Georgette Farkas and Peter Trapp to end the night

February 6, 2006, Volume VI, Number 23
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch & DPC/


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/