Friday, September 16, 2011

The sun sets after an active New York week

Sunset. 7:06 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, September 16, 2011. Cloudy and grey with a strong breeze yesterday in New York, the final day of Fashion Week (see Ellin’s Fashion Diary), leaving a touch of Autumn in the air.
The begonias on the Park Avenue island at 79th Street looking south.
After lunch at Michael’s, I took a walk up Fifth Avenue to check out the Bergdorf Goodman windows – always so creative and clever – where I spotted this young woman on the sidewalk, leaning against the building, book in hand, her sweet little dogs secure and comfortable under their little blankets, and the sign ...
Yesterday on Fifth Avenue on a spot next to Bergdorf Goodman, in front of Van Cleef and Arpels.
Something so familiar, I was reminded of a similar situation which I wrote about last January 11th, also on Fifth Avenue, but then a few blocks down near the Olympic Tower. Same sort of situation, young woman, well-dressed, with cute little pekes, well cared for and groomed, and reading a book in her lap.

When I saw her last January (NYSD 1.11.11), I was immediately concerned with her “plight” – 7 months pregnant with the little dogs. I passed her by that day but all I could think of was the “unborn child” she was “carrying,” and those cute little dogs (who were, as you can see, protected by their quilted coats) because it was an especially cold winter’s day and the weatherman had forecast a snowstorm.

And so I went back to talk to her and to give her some money. It so happened that after the picture and the story appeared on the Diary, we got quite a bit of mail about her. Evidently others had seen her, and seen her in other parts of midtown, at other times. A reader who does a lot of volunteer work with people who are homeless wrote to tell me that there was a “fashion” (wrong word but right idea) among some young people – including college students well housed in dorms and apartments here in downtown Manhattan – who did this panhandling/ begging as a kind of lark. And no doubt for the extra dough. The New Cynicism.
The same girl nine months ago (almost to the day) on January 10th near the Olympic Tower.
After receiving those letters, the questions I had when I initially saw her, returned. Why would a person so well and expensively dressed, be in need of bus or plane fare “home”?

So yesterday, with my digital handy, I wondered, could it be the same “pregnant” woman? I took a picture. I couldn’t see her face because she’d bowed her head, just as I was passing by.

As I moved on, passing by the brilliant Bergdorf’s window, only yards from the “7 months pregnant,” there was this young couple, leaning against the same wall, with a more artistically designed sign about being homeless and having no money and needing a ticket to ride. These two kinda looked like they might have been in the cast of “Gossip Girl.”
The poor things with their 'lucky" dog.
They too had a sweet, well-cared-for dog. The young man was very neat and clean-shaven, his “sad” girlfriend managed to partially hide herself with her head on his shoulder, her eyes closed as if exhausted from the “hardship.”

I’m not inclined to suspect the motives of someone who goes to the level of “begging” because of what seems demeaning, or demoralizing. Although the young man did indeed look NOT desperate, but even a wee bit affluent. The sneakers, as you can see, are new (and not cheap), and the frames of his glasses would have cost him a pretty penny at Robert Marc. Hmmm.

Six feet away from the couple above, shoppers admiring the fashion windows of Bergdorf Goodman.
When I got home, I called JH about the picture we published of the girl last January 11th. Seven months pregnant. He found it in our archive and sent it over.

Indeed, it’s the same person, as you can see. Or her twin. If she were 7 months pregnant today (after being “7 months pregnant” nine months ago). It is feasible ... that she had the child and then within two months became pregnant again, making her the 7 months pregnant on her sign.

New Yorkers are not unfamiliar with people on the street asking for cash. And I don’t doubt for moment that many people are desperate and in great need. I almost always stop to share for that reason. And more and more I see entire families – man, woman and children, sitting on the pavement, holding a sign asking for money. This is very painful to witness because of the children.

I know many of these people are truly stuck. But there is something cruelly and coldly cynical about those who are not. Maybe they need the money for rent, for drugs, for food. Maybe.

Or maybe they don’t. Maybe they’ve just maxed out their credit cards. Or maybe they’re just looking for some easy cash; and the joke’s on us who empathize – because they have no self-respect anyway.

Whatever it is, I feel sorry for the dogs. You know they’ll be the ones who will eventually suffer the fate these well fed, well-clothed fakes have in store.

Diana Taylor last night at the Accion reception at the apartment of Wilbur and Hilary Ross.
Last night I stopped by the penthouse apartment of Hilary and Wilbur Ross where Diana Taylor, Michael Schlein and Gina Harman were hosting a cocktail reception to launch Accion’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, with Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup as Guest of Honor.

There was a good crowd, including Liz and Jeff Peek, Mary McFadden, Edgar Battista, Yaz and Valentine Hernandez, Ann Rapp, Cece Cord, Sharon Handler, Ann Dexter Jones, Richard Turley, Glenn Horowitz and Tracey Jackson, Ellery and Marjorie Reed Gordon, Estie and Dan Brodsky.

Accion International is a private, non-profit organization founded fifty years ago to address the desperate REAL poverty in Latin America’s cities by giving people the financial tools to work their way out of it.

At first it was a student-run volunteer effort in shantytowns like those of Caracas. Today it is one of the premier microfinance organizations covering the world including Africa, Asia, the US and of course Latin America.

It has built over these decades innovative solutions to poverty – real “job creation,” to borrow from our political lingo coming out of Washington these days. Despite all the political talk, Accion’s work is needed more than ever.
Hilary Ross and her son Jack Geary. Mary McFadden and Edgar Battista.
Lined up before speaking before the guests: Wilbur and Hilary Ross, Diana Taylor, and Vikram Pandit.
The crowd listening to the group talking about the work of Accion now in its 50th year.
The sunset on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 57th Street, 7:20 pm
This past Wednesday night, I went over to the New York School of Interior Design on East 70th Street to hear Duane Hampton’s lecture on her recent book (last year) Mark Hampton, An American Decorator. We covered this book when it was published and Sian Ballen and Lesley Hauge interviewed her while JH photographed her apartment for our HOUSE series.

I know Duane personally, but I had never heard the lecture she does on this book and her late husband (who died 13 years ago at age 58).

Click to order An American Decorator.
The lecture consists mainly of a portfolio of photographs of Mark Hampton, his childhood and family; Mark and Duane, their travels, their social life, their family; and Mark’s work.

A bright-eyed, milk-fed kid from a small town in Indiana, he grew up in a picturesque all-American white clapboard two-story house with shutters. He was one of those boys brimming with curiosity and creative talent. He drew and painted all the time – all kinds of things, especially houses and cars (he always said if he ever came back as a car he wanted it to be a 1941 Lincoln Continental — a beauty, I agree).

He had a huge zest for life, a joie de vivre, if you will, and an unerring eye for beauty.

What stands out, although the book and even the lecture, is about Mark Hampton and the development of his career, is the marriage. They were a kind of karmic couple, like Fred and Ginger, just right for the world they would dance in. Duane was wife and mother (two daughters, both flourishing today).

They had a strong family life, and a brilliant social life exposing them to all the great wonders of the world that money can -- and always could -- buy, including connoisseurship. And they had fun. Living well is the best revenge.
Duane at home, photographed by JH for HOUSE.
Duane at the rostrum looking at the screen of photographs about her husband Mark Hampton and their life together, Wednesday night at the New York School of Interior Design on East 70th Street.
Duane’s lecture with images tells the story of that marriage (they married in 1964, very much a couple of their generation, and looking every inch of it) just through the visual content. She still laughs and chortles at some of the memories.

It was a golden moment for both, and although cut short by Mark’s early demise, the memory obviously lingers on with charm and beauty, despite the bittersweet disappearance of the man himself. If you ever get a chance to see and hear Duane’s lecture, don’t miss ...
A magazine ad of five of the top interior designers in the 1990s -- Mark Hampton, Bunny Williams, Albert Hadley, Chessy Rayner and Mario Buatta.
The young Hamptons with Dominick Dunne.
Mark Hampton's caricature of two dames smoking and having a good laugh.
Mickey Hargitay, his wife Jayne Mansifeld, and a starstruck college student from Indiana, Mark Hampton.
More parties, more books. Also Tuesday night at the Lambs Club, author Michael Gross celebrated the re-release of his book “Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women.”

In the crowd: Dana Hammond and Dr. Patrick Stubgen, Nancy Gillon and Jock Spivey, Coerte Feiske, Susan and Chip Fisher, Barry Kieselstein-Cord, Matthew Settle, Carmen Dell’Orefice (who is celebrating her 65th year as a top working model), Hunt Slonem, Gay Talese, Bonnie Pfeifer, Liliana Cavendish, Anthony Haden-Guest, Rita Shrager, Nicole Miller, Couri Hay, Sharon Bush, Debbie Dickinson, George Gurley, Roy Kean.
Hunt Slonem, Dovanna Pagowski, Liliana Cavendish, Farhad Geranmayeh, Anne Bezamat, Kim Charlton, Michael Gross, and Marianna Verkern
Montgomery Bernardi, Danielly Silva, Karina Zartkezvica, and Emely Fargo
Barbara Hodes, Roy Kean, and Anita Sarko
Carmen Dell'Orefice
Gay Talese and Lavinia Snyder
Saustina Rose and China Tian
David Frank Ray and Linda Morand
Farhad Geranmayeh, Anthony Haden-Guest, and Bridget Desocio
While a few blocks away, down on the the corner of 57th and Fifth Avenue at Tiffany, John King and Margaret Russell hosted a reception in honor of the article in the October issue of Architectural Digest featuring the home of Richard Lambertson and John Truex.

They transformed the fourth floor of Tiffany’s Flagship store into a chic, autumnal space with dramatic lighting and seasonal florals. Votive and pillar candles added a warm glow for the many notable guests from the New York design and social scene. DJ Kiss provided an upbeat soundtrack for the event.

Among those attending: Anne Monoky, CeCe Cord, Alexandra Lebenthal, Muffie Potter Aston, Gillian Miniter, Robert Ruffino, Steven Stolman, Geoffrey Bradfield, Marjorie Gubelmann, Peter Som, and of course the gents themselves, Lambertson and Truex.
John Truex, Margaret Russell, and Richard Lambertson
Jacqueline Terrebonne, Christy Shepherd, and Anne Monoky
Peter Som and Jon Call
Ryan Turner, Michele Jawin, Brian Turner, and Mark Foran
Jon King, Caroline Naggiar, Beth Canavan, and Robert Rufino
Richard Lambertson and Bunny Williams
Elizabeth Sverbeyeff Byron and friend
DJ Kiss
Ben Bash and Christian Langbin
Ellie Cullman, Margaret Russell, and Jenny Fischbach
Alexandra Lebenthal and Muffie Potter Aston
Eileen and Jeffrey Warner
Ron Wendt, Marjorie Gubelmann, and Jon King
Geoffrey Bradfield, Rebecca Bond, and Roric Tobin
Steven Stolman and Jack Bochonok
Linda Buckley, Jaqui Lividini, and Linda Buckley
Cece Cord
Kimberly Guilfoyle, Gigi Stone, and Andrea Tantaros
Guilford Robinson and John Robshaw
Frank Pollaro and Robert Ruffino

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