Hotter'n ...
Looking towards the Manhattan Bridge. 6:45 PM. Photo: JH.

Bulletin: GOOD NEWS: Philippe, the popular restaurant on East 61st Street between Park and Madison that was reported here to have sustained damage from the explosion of the doctor's house on East 62nd Street DID NOT have any damage and is open for business as usual, thankfully ...

A friend called me from Palm Springs
yesterday afternoon and asked how I was. I’d just got in off the sweltering streets and the swill we’ve had to call air in Manhattan these past few days, and I was complaining about the damned heat. “Well it’s been 118 degrees here for the past five days, so I’m not sympathetic,” he said.

The Mag Rag Trade. There was the briefest of showers late this afternoon where we were hoping for relief. No dice. At 8 pm, I went down to the new and glorious Le Cirque in the courtyard of Beacon Court on East 58th Street where Mario Buatta, New York’s original Prince of Chintz was having a little dinner for Barbara Bancroft who’d written an affectionate profile of the man in the latest issue of Q, (for Quintessential Style), that’s the fairly new (this is its fourth issue) off-shoot of Quest magazine where this writer, as some of you know serves as editor-in-chief. My name’s on the masthead as E-I-C of this latest print incarnation although it’s really the brainchild of Elizabeth Meigher whose father Chris Meigher is also the publisher of ... Quest. Q’s charter, for all you shoppers of style and fashion out there, is ... fashion and style. Not the dark and grimly glum kind that’s being foisted these days by some of the fashion mag cognescenti, but the bright, fresh and colorful kind that fits nicely into the mold called classic.

Le Cirque last night was jumping (and thankfully cool). Mr. Sirio Maccioni, its famous impresario was presiding over the glamorous crowd with his customary continental je ne sais quoi. Just inside the entrance at a big table Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter and his wife Anna Scott were entertaining. In a rush to my table (I was late as usual), I noticed only the now fabled Boswell Dominick Dunne at the head of the table and the soigné Alexandra Kotur, senior features editor of Vogue. If you’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada which doesn’t tell you even half the story of what a ... ahem ... fashion magazine editor can be like to work for ... Ms. Kotur is quite another story that never makes it to celluloid: she’s nice. Really nice. And smart. Gawd, how’d that happen? Dominick Dunne, incidentally, is just in from Monaco where he took in the yet-another trial of the man who was the official nurse of Edmond Safra when he died from smoke inhalation in his Monte Carlo apartment several years ago. But you’ll have to wait till he tells you about that can of worms.

Making my way quickly through the crowded room, I spotted Ambassador Carl Spielvogel and Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel holding forth with guests; Lynette and Howard Gittis, director and Vice-Chair and Chief Administrative Officer of MacAndrew & Forbes, the big Ron Perelman holding company; Sandy Hill with a group including Averill and Gigi Mortimer, and a big group at a table in the kitchen behind a glass partition in the big bright white kitchen including Barbara and Donald Tober.

Above: Barbara Bancroft and Mario Buatta last night at Le Cirque. Left and right: A portrait of Mario and a headshot of Barbara from her profile of Mario Buatta: Living Legend which ran last month in Q.

Last night at LeCirque
(below, l. to r.): Grace and Chris Meigher; DPC with Elizabeth and Amanda Meigher.

Talk at the table was already going on. In the magazine business, talking shop is often talking about the editorial content either recent or upcoming. It was in yesterday’s Page Six in the New York Post that designer/retailing tycoon, Oprah’s favorite Tory Burch (who is featured in an interview of mine in the latest Q) is officially getting a divorce from her husband. All of which circuitously led to past lives and past fashions (you had to be there to keep track) and Truman Capote (always a favorite topic for an anecdote or three) and photographer Harry Benson’s piece in Quest this month about Truman Capote. Benson who’s probably photographed more celebrities in the past half century than anyone else, tells the story behind the picture he took of Capote on the beach in Southampton in 1984.

Harry, the most congenial of Scotsmen with an anecdote tells of their meeting before he took the shot, in Capote’s favorite bar where Tru told the bartender: “I’ll have my usual.” Mr. Benson followed with “I’ll have what he’s having.” Truman said, “Harry, this drink is not for you. This is a man’s drink.”

“When the drinks arrived,” Harry reports, “Truman took a big gulp. I took a sip of the strange colored concoction in front of me and nearly died ... He laughed and said with more than a hint of sarcasm, ‘I told you it was a man’s drink.’ I can’t describe the taste,” Harry continues, “but the bartender told me it was something like gin, vodka, brandy, sherry, whiskey and lime juice.”

Benson’s memories in Quest of the Tiny Terror (as he was dubbed in his heyday by Aileen Mehle, the society columnist who writes under the nom de plume of Suzy) reveal his sadness about his fall from grace with his long time friend (and “swan”) Babe Paley after he wrote about the ruinous doin’s of the swank set he’d rubbed elbows with while riding high on the celebrity horse.

Harry Benson's (inset) portrait of Truman Capote in Southampton in 1984, a few months before his untimely death.

Southamptonites Carole and Timothy Reed with their children Guston and Dabney in front of St. Andrew's Dune Church on the beach in Southampton.

Fashion, passion, and all sorts things surrounding the glitterati danced around the table conversation until there was a powerful crash outside that sounded like thunder. And indeed, it was thunder, and lightning, and torrential downpour; and then more and more and more. Time to end the evening and get back to business for me. I excused myself first. It was pouring outside, the temperature had dropped. Marco Maccioni was out in the courtyard with an umbrella hailing cabs for us stranded customers. When he got me my cab, he said, “do you need an umbrella?” I didn’t have one, and he handed me his. Even the cabdriver said, “gee, he gave you his umbrella?” That’s service. That’s Le Cirque; that’s New York on a formerly hot July night.
The Summer Issue of Q.

Tory Burch in DPC's interview with her in Q.

If you’d like to see more of Harry Benson’s work, or to refresh your memory, because his portfolio contains so many famous images that you’ve seen before, you can visit the website:

And for those who’d like to know more about Quest and Q (a quarterly which arrives automatically in the mail with Quest), send check payable to QUEST Media for $36 (one year/12 issues) or $47.97 (two years/24 issues) to: QUEST Media, 420 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10017 10022; Attention: Subscriptions or call 646.840.3404 ext 106 for more information.


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July 13, 2006, Volume VI, Number 113


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/