Thursday, January 20, 2011

Around the room

Setting up for the Winter Antique Show in the Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory. 3:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, January 20, 2011. Cold, damp, waiting for the next snowfall to brighten up the grey days.

I went down to Michael’s to lunch
with a couple of friends including Caroline Weber who wrote that “What Marie Antoinette Wore To the Revolution” and teaches French literature up at Barnard. She and I share an avid interest in the subject of 18th century France and many other places and people. There is a natural scholarliness to her knowledge so I’m afraid I have to admit to myself that she’s a lot smarter and sharper than I. Most of the time. I like that. So too, does our lunch partner, Charles Stevenson who has command of those qualities himself.

DPC and Caroline Weber at Michael's.
Caroline is currently working on a book on the three French noblewomen who were the “model” for Proust’s duchesse de Guermantes. Fashion gauges and presages. It talks history. It represents our zeitgeist. Charles had just read Antal Szerb’s “The Queen’s Necklace.” He wanted to know how these people (in 18th century Versailles) had as much sex as it’s claimed with all those clothes on. Caroline: they didn’t wear underwear. Continuing from there we went to the fashion for jeans worn below the butt-crack. Where did that come from? Caroline: prison and the rule of no belts. And the tattoo. Also prison. The flip side of No underwear.

Meanwhile around the room,
you can be certain there wasn’t a lot of Proust and Marie-Laure de Noailles talk going on at most tables. In an intensely business oriented city intensely oriented restaurants are talking business. Or its rewards. At table one there was a group of businessmen, one of whom was said to be the painter David Hockney. It was not.

Continuing: Ally Magrino, Jim Abernathy, Priscilla Rattazzi, Esther Newberg, Wayne Kabak and Diane Dimond, Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC; the man from Manolo, George Malkemus; Barbara Cirkva, Fredi Friedman: Gillian Tett of the FT; Jimmy Finkelstein with Keith Kelly; Steve Rattner with Andrew Ross Sorkin, Steve Blacker, Jack Thomas, Kevin Sheekey, Debbie Bancroft, Sarabeth Shrager, Pax Quigley with Joan Kingsley, David Corvo; and dozens more just like ‘em.

Tim Knox and Chas Miller at the Carlton Hobbs mansion on East 93rd Street where the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation was hosting a benefit evening.
Last night I took my friend Penny Bianchi in from California up to the Carlton Hobbs mansion on East 93rd Street where the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation was hosting a benefit evening for its newly created Soane Conservation Fund for sculptures and antiquities at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. Penny who is an interior designer working out of Montecito, is here for tonight’s opening preview of the Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory.

For the uneducated, and I am right up there with you, the Sir John Soane Museum in London is considered possibly the greatest repository and museum in architecture and the fine and decorative arts. It evokes reverence among the connoisseurs and pacesetters, not to mention the art collectors and antiquaires.

The venue for the benefit is worth a trip. It was built in 1929-31 for Virginia Fair Vanderbilt, recently divorced wife of William K. Vanderbilt Jr. Mrs. Vanderbilt died only a few years after completion and the house had a few incarnations until Carlton Hobbs acquired it several years ago, restoring it to its original and amazing restrained splendor.

When we arrived many of the guests were on the second floor of the mansion which gave Penny a chance to look around. In one room she spotted a pair of blackamoors she’d seen before in California. Detail. They had long graced the John Wolffe designed Beverly Hills home of Jimmy Pendleton, a house famously photographed an elegant poolside tea party by Slim Aarons, and famously owned for the past few decades by television producer Bob Evans. Provenance; it’s all provenance.
James Andrew and Penny Bianchi. Judtih and Ward Landrigan.
Edmond Lincoln with Carol and Jack Wasserman.
Lynne Allen, Sandra Ourusoff, and Armin Allen.
Charles Plante and Philip Hewat-Jaboor.
Philip Hewat-Jaboor and Rod Keenan.
Timothy Van Dam and Joan Davidson.
Elizabeth Williams, Catherine Futter, Thomas Michie, and Kee II Choi, Jr.
Carole Prisant and Robert Rufino.
Andrew Oyen, Cator Sparks, and Tony Freund.
Roby Whitlock and Joan Watkins. Simone Franses and Alex Carcacci.
Mita Corsini Bland, Darren Henault, and Gerald Bland.
Tim Knox, Wendy Moonan, and Charles Plante.
Gerald Bland, Will Strafford, Stefanie Rinza, and Will Iselin.
Matthew Smyth and Mandy Florian Papp. Carlton Hobbs and Bart Boehlert.
Charles Plante.
Bessie Hanahan and Lavinia Grimball.
Mita Bland, Connie Newberry, and Gil Schafer.
Henry Lessore and Paula Weideger.
George McDaniels and Rick Sharp.
Dana Donadio and Iva Batistic. Robert Haber and Pamela MacBrayne.
John Paul Huguley and John Pope.
Pamela Mac Brayne, Barbara Lovenheim, Barbara Pine, Wendy Moonan, and Sharon Hoge.
The scene at Carlton Hobbs.
Cynthia Dorayton, Jim Rowbotham, and Christine Mainwaring-Samwell.
George McDaniels and Carter Hudgins.
Olivier Berggruen and Carlton Hobbs.
Barbara Lovenheim and John Grimes. Geoffrey Bradfield, Carole Holmes McCarthy, Lisa Selby, and Roric Tobin.
Curt DiCamillo and Rebecca Tilles.
Courtney Coleman and Richard Dragisic.
William Brockschmidt, John Blancett, and John Champion.
João Magalhães, Henry Neville, and Olivier Berggruen.
Ron Wagner, Timothy Van Dam, Emily Eerdmans, John Kelley, and Michele Everett.
Thomas Sellin and Christian Damgaard.
Video link: A reward for reading this Diary to its completion.
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Photographs by ANN WATT.
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