Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lunch with Mr. Maier

An afternoon drizzle. 2:20 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011. Cool autumn weather, some Sun, some heavy looking dark clouds. Spritz, that’s all.

My sister wrote me from Cape Cod to tell me that the leaves were falling a lot, helped by the storms. Here in Manhattan, the leaves have yet to even show signs of turning. It takes much longer, I guess because the city is warm, still self-heating. The apartment buildings usually don’t turn on the heat until it hits 55 degrees. I think. It’s somewhere along there.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I didn’t miss the foliage back here the way a lot of people claim to. But when I am here in New York, I look forward to it. I see hope even when it’s hard to see, when the leaves turn color. It’s too beautiful to deny.

Shafi Roepers.
The social scene – at least the one you’re going to hear most about on New York Social Diary, is beginning to heat up. Three, four, five events a day.

Yesterday I missed the Silver Hill Hospital Gala kick-off at the home of Shafi Roepers. Disappointed; because I had wanted to see the house of the lady I’ve heard so much about.

Ms. Roepers is not new on the scene but she is On The Scene Now. There’s a slight difference. The emergence of a personality in New York is always interesting to observe. It articulates The Process that draws people to the metropolis. I only half know what I’m talking about, so forget it if you don’t understand what I mean.

The Silver Hill gala is honoring Carrie Fisher. Ms. Fisher was recently on Broadway with her one woman show, you may remember or have seen. She is clever, as you probably know by now, and she can really make you laugh. She inherited all this from her mother, and if things ever get rough, they can always take it on the road as the Final Act.

I expect this is going to be a sell-out because Carrie Fisher can’t help herself once she’s got an audience, and even if all she does is go up there and accept the award, it’ll be worth the ticket, believe me. The main chance takes place Thursday, November 3rd at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Last night. I also missed the Phoenix House party at the Jill Newhouse Gallery on 4 East 81 Street. The Show is called “Drive: Wendy Mark: New Work,” with 20% of proceeds of sales going to Phoenix House. What caught my eye was Ms. Mark’s work on the invitation.
"The Pink Street and Pale Green 2011," watercolor on paper 22 1/4 X 30 inches. Wendy Mark, Jill Newhouse Gallery.
Yesterday morning I missed the Arthur L. Loeb Cup Bridge Tournament for Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. At 9:15. Zzzzzzz. That’s what I was doing, thankfully.

Bridge is big again. At least in my neighborhood. Good for the brain too. Good for LHNH, one of the great working neighborhood houses in the world, making a difference for everyone in their community. We could use more.

Why did I miss these events? I just couldn’t get myself out of the house on time. Why? I didn’t get in from lunch until close to four.

It was a business lunch – well, sort of – and I also almost missed that yesterday too.

Tomas Maier in (clockwise from top)The New Yorker, Details, VF, and Wallpaper.
I was meeting Tomas Maier, the very successful Head of Creative Design of Bottega Veneta. Bottega Veneta is, as you may have noticed, an advertiser on the NYSD, and we like to be helpful to our advertisers, so I thought it would be nice to meet Mr. Maier, who is famous in his business and in many parts of the world.

The New Yorker has profiled him. Vanity Fair. All kinds of news space. He’s often in the FT. Observing this kind of business celebrity is a curious thing to me, just as is the social “emergence” business that I aforementioned about Ms. Shoepers.

I am not interested in handbags, per se, or even any garments, including my own (until I need something), Although since Bottega came aboard NYSD, I do look at their ads. I mean really look. Some of their pieces are really beautiful pieces. Like art, to these eyes. Artisanship.

I’m guessing it’s that response that explains for the success of Mr. Maier’s input to the BV’s business.

I was looking forward to sitting at lunch table with Tomas Maier and asking him anything that came to mind. It’s a great way to get to know somebody. In this business of celebrity and marketing and media, a lot of the people, most of the people you meet, you are probably not going to see again (at least not much) and maybe never. So to kind of dip into one’s personality and consciousness and “get to know” something about them, during that brief period, something you can take home and identify, is enhancing.

That’s what I figured it would be with Tomas Maier.

The date was set for one at Michael’s. I was a few minutes late because of inane traffic. He had not arrived. I was relieved. By seventeen after, I thought I should check my iPhone to re-read Gail Karr’s (our Sales Director) message to me earlier in the morning about confirming.

The night I’d met Tomas Maier when Coty Prestige launched his new fragrance for Bottega Veneta.
Looking at it again, I saw that having read the first line: CONFIRMED, I never looked beyond it. Sitting there at table in Michael’s, I took the time. It said: “1 pm at Harry Cipriani.” What???

Loreal at Michael’s placed a call to Cip’s and I spoke to Sergei who told me that “they” were there, waiting. Oh God.

I ran up of Michael’s (55th and Fifth) and up to Cip’s (59th and Fifth). “They” was on my mind. I don’t like doing “interviews” with “they” sitting around, and had I known, I would have told them I wouldn’t. But I didn’t, and so I couldn’t.

I’d met Tomas Maier to say hello and shake his hand several weeks ago when they launched his new fragrance for Bottega Veneta. There was no sign of the delicate ego that seems to go with the territory in his business. He seemed rather regular and unfazed. Always a good sign. I took his picture that night. He was very patient. I told him we should have lunch. He nodded with a smile, as if to say,”sure.”

However, walking quickly up the avenue to Cipriani, I had no idea what I was going to talk about.

Passing Henri Bendel, I saw the “7 Month Pregnant” well-dressed homeless panhandler girl with the two innocent little pekes well clothed to keep warm. She was sitting on the pavement, leaning against the store’s wall. She had nodded off, or so it appeared; sort of slumped over. She didn’t look as well-turned-out as she had the two previous times I’ve seen her.

I was still thinking about what we could talk about at lunch, especially in the company of a couple of company suits – which is what I imagined would be waiting for me.

That line from Dorothy Parker kept running anxiously through my mind like the lyric of a song you can’t get out of your head:

Authors and actors and artists and such.
Never know nothing, and never know much.

Nevertheless. At Cipriani, I was greeted Mr. Maier, his partner in life and business Andrew Preston and Billy Daley from Bottega Veneta.

Much ado about nothing. Maier, Preston and Daley were good company although Daley couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Mr. Preston, I learned, grew up in Elkhart, Indiana, the great American Middle West. I had a college classmate named John Dille who grew up in Elkhart, Indiana. What was it like? It was like the town I grew up in in Westfield, Massachusets, God-Bless-Once-Upon-A-Time middle America. Mr. Maier grew up in Pforzheim, a small town in Germany near the Black Forest. Not dissimilar experience in many ways. We all wanted to go to the Big City when we grew up.

Tomas Maier and Andrew Preston outside Cipriani.
Tomas Maier, when he grew up, decided to go to Paris because it was far enough away and a great city. The son of an architect, he was an artist and a designer by nature. I read somewhere that he’s one of those people that if you have so much as a tiny thread on your lapel, he’ll see it and want to remove it. I’m a little like that in that I’ll see it - although I gave up wanting to remove it long ago. For all I know Tomas Maier has too.

So it was a lively conversation, much of it passing between me and Mr. Preston, who, like Mr. Maier is very pleasant company. We talked about books, and cities, and histories, and Florida, where they have a house in Gulfstream, and Augustus Mayhew who writes his wonderful columns about Florida architecture here on NYSD.

Tomas Maier is one of those fellows who is quite content to look and listen. He’s not shy because he’s right there taking it all in. When asked a question about himself, he is very present and simple in explanation. Because he seems to be serious, you’re surprised at first when the face lights up and smiles. Then you see the whole man.

His design success is the stuff of financial reports. Sales are up almost 1000% since he took on the job nine years ago. He and Preston travel frequently between Florida, Europe and New York. They have two small dogs who travel with them, so they are always at home. They don’t mind the travel but they like to return to Florida (for the weather), where they also have a business together.

It was one of those lunches with people you don’t know whom you may never see again, or much anyway, and yet it was like friends getting together. I left concluding that was, essentially, what Tomas Maier was like.

Next Tuesday is the opening night preview of "LOOT 2011; Mad About Jewelry" at the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle. This is an annual event, a "juried exhibition and sale of one-of-a-kind" contemporary jewelry created by more than 50 of the world's most important studio and art designers.

Opening Preview:
Tuesday, October 11th, 3PM to 8PM
The Show Continues:
Wednesday, October 12th, 11AM to 6PM
Thursday, October 13th, 11AM to 9PM
Friday, October 14th, 11AM to 9PM
Now, in its 11th edition, LOOT is the ultimate pop-up shop for this one-of-a-kind jewelry among artists and collectors alike, mostly because it affords the public the rare opportunity to acquire pieces directly from the artists.

This year there will be an international array of 45 on hand, both emerging and acclaimed. Prices for their works range from $200 to $18,000, with $1,000 the average. Proceeds benefit the Museum’s exhibition and education programs.

The four-day-long event kicks off (on October 11), with an afternoon gala preview, packed with unique art jewelry events. Diane Venet, MAD’s guest curator of Picasso to Koons: The Artist as Jeweler will moderate a panel composed of featured exhibition artists Michele Oka Doner and Illya and Emilia Kabakov, along with Corice Arman, the widow of the French-born artist Arman.

The group will discuss the unique appeal and challenges of making “wearable sculptures.” Later that afternoon, historian and curator Lois Sherr Dubin will lecture on the esteemed jewelry artist Barbara Natoli Witt, whose extraordinary creations have been collected by such legendary fashionistas as Diana Vreeland and Eleanor Lambert and a host of museums, including MAD.

Gala attendees of the lecture will receive a complimentary copy of “Adornment,” Dubin’s lavish monograph on Witt’s rare art. Afterward, artists and MAD curators will be in attendance at the celebratory opening cocktail party. Click here to learn more.
Lia di Gregorio.
Lucia Corral.
Sarah Abramson. Susan Green.
Margherita Marchioni.
Danielle Gori-Montanelli.
Sara Basch.

Comments? Contact DPC here.