Cool May days
Looking towards the Empire State Building from 11th Avenue. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.

Oh to live on Sugar Mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons ...

You can’t be twenty on Sugar Mountain
Tho you’re thinking
That you’re leaving there too soon
You’re leavin’ there too soon ...

- Neil Young, “Sugar Mountain”

They’re compelling figures in literature. They’re often very beautiful or very ugly. It doesn’t matter because you’ll notice. Either way.

Wealth somehow surrounds them, adding luster to the plot. They have a penchant for the made-up lives, the made-up moments, made-up meetings, and made-up friendships. They claim to know nothing about it: The drama.

The general effect when the lens shutter clicks is ... Holly Golightly. Or Scarlett O’Hara. Or Daisy Buchanan. Or Lady Brett. Or Emerald Cunard. Or Zelda without her Scott. Poor Little Rich Girls. Chocolates For Breakfast.

They would be movie stars, because they are actresses no matter how you slice it. But they don’t possess the actual thespian talent to get lost in the key light. Unless Hollywood calls -- think Lee Radziwill, Gloria Vanderbilt. But nothing really comes of it.

What they do have is the gumption. The chutzpah. They’re bursting with it. In their dreams they would make great princesses, vulnerable and beautiful and ... don’t mess with Mother Nature. Willowy young things. It’s still a movie.

In New York we see these girls from time to time. They’re not as numerous as some would imagine. It doesn’t just take looks and money. Or even personality. It takes that star quality. Remember there was only one Scarlett O’Hara in all of Clayton County.

They come fresh from the farm. Fate’s carpet rolls out for them, leading them almost directly into the halls of fashion media, and before they know it (and they know it), everyone's enchanted, everyone wants them. Everyone in the fashion media, anyway.

Today’s heroine arrived fresh from the perfectly manicured fairways of Fairfield County maybe a decade or more ago. A pretty young thing with an unremarkable but bright personality. And a habit of lapsing into an occasional foreign accent while you’re in the midst of conversation with her. What do you do when someone does that, and you’re witnessing an unhoned affectation? You don’t do anything. In fact, you can even find it strangely alluring. You think this is nuts but different. So you go along.

She was invited here or there and then invited some more. Then she invited. Not all the time. Just every now and then. Enough to make it a hot ticket. Although she’d been coming to the city all her life. Then it’s time to write a book -- if you’re hard up and can type. Or know a publisher. Or, you can find the husband.

The husband she found. As for the books, she’s an actress not a novelist. She lives the books. When she married her swain in an international wedding full of fashion, the beautiful couple’s first dance at the wedding was the tango. Adequately (believably) executed. Thrilling the crowd (media acrobats). An actress gets it down and then shows.

From then on it was The Beautiful People. Recorded on the glossy pages full of a fashion stylist’s (the writer) splashy oohs and encomiums. An international life. A big life (sort of). A glamorous life (looks it). A family life (children – four). A dashing husband, a European lifestyle (although the European women of this ilk are rarely interested in spending any quality time with American women of this ilk or any other.

In time the Beautiful Couple moved on to another continent south of this one where life was beautiful and oh boy. The media goodfairies lighted on them of course, as they always had. There was so much to see, to photograph, so chic, so divine, so comme il faut.

Not long ago some more of those major media goodfairies paid a visit with cameras, lights, makeup, hair capturing the idea life of the fairy princess; the girl who has everything, even love and a family.

And then something happened. Fairy princess was looking for a new script. Or a twist in the plot; a cliffhanger. And so she found one: she left. Left her Don Juan, left their children, and returned to the place where she got her first big part. On her list of “To Do’s” was to get the media goodfairies to pull the piece. But in the fashion media there are goodfairies and there are badfairies – it’s all how you look at it. Nix, said the fashion media good/badfairy.

Why did she do this? What was she thinking? Only she could know. But the sequel could be “Scarlet Returns.” To the world of cotton candy birthdays.

On another note, one night last month in London there was a lively reception and private view at its New Bond Street saleroom for the sale of Gordon Watson: The End of a Chapter, which took place on May 3.

Tracy Hejailan and Fruzsina Keehn

Gordon Watson is an arbiter of taste in London who for 27 years had a Fulham Road gallery that has been a well-known landmark in London's art world. His shop has constantly been at the cutting edge of style with an ever-changing eclectic mix of 20th-century objects.

More than 400 guests, many of them Watson’s devoted followers, attended the Sotheby's reception including Janet de Boton, Victoria Fernandes, Minn Hogg, Lord McAlpine, Daisy Garnet, Rebecca Green, Howard Hodgkin, Aldine Honey, Alan Yentob, Nicholas Haslam, and the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava.

Guests drank Caipiroska's and Montagny Cru white wine and ate canapés including asparagus spears with truffle oil, and beef fillet with onion marmalade. Bet they couldn’t eat just one. Catering by Tate Entertaining saw to that. A good time was had by all (or almost all); I can promise you that (and in some cases with no smalls thanks to Caipiroska’s and Montagny Cru).

Aldine Honey and William Pounds
Daisy Garnet and Nicholas Pearson
Leonie Booth Clibborn
Lord McAlpine and Minn Hogg
Nicholas Haslam and Janet de Boton
Stefan Ratibor and Christina Goulandris
Des and Robin Woodhead with Gordon Watson
Rebecca Green, Alan Yentob, and Janet de Boton


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May 16, 2006, Volume VI, Number 83


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/