|Last Thursday night at the Joyce, the high profile modern and contemporary dance theater in New York, a new ballet “Cake” premiered with music by Karen LeFrak, choreography by Brian Reeder, and costumes by designer Charles Nolan. A large contingent of the New York social world were in the audience to celebrate this debut with their friend, the composer, Mrs. LeFrak.
Rhythms and achievement. Karen LeFrak is well known in New York for her charitable activities as well as her husband and sons presence on the New York arts and culture social scene. Although I don’t know her well, our paths have crossed many times over the years. She is somewhat shy in bearing; friendly but can be quiet. She’s a small, slender woman with signature long blonde hair that might have been the clue I overlooked in my perception of her.
She had two very compelling avocations, from what I could observe: raising championship standard poodles, and the piano. That’s how I have known “about” her, how I saw her. Then, a few years ago when she was showing me and a friend around her new house in Southampton (inspired – her husband Richard was inspired – by the architecture of Stanford White), we saw the special room for her show dogs. It was pristine, organized, as efficient as a laboratory and as comfortable for the canines as a palace. And state of the art. And, her dogs had the run of the house, as well. It was also a glimpse into the focus, the nature and the intent of our hostess.
In another part of the house, there was an octagonal room off the dining room, surrounded by windows and containing a beautiful grand piano. Who played? I asked. Why, our hostess.
Oh. Nice. Although that didn’t seem remarkable. So do I, although with more enthusiasm than ability. Such is her modesty about herself, however, that it was few years later when I accidentally learned that she practiced “hours” a day.
|So, when the invitation came for the premiere of “Cake,” this made it all much clearer. The long blonde hair. The artist. The composer. Musicians can be passionate about many things, and deliberate, and maybe focused and maybe not, but music lies somewhere beyond that. For them. And Mrs. LeFrak is a composer.
Whatever I learned over time, I have no doubt there are many friends of the LeFraks who have always known. Some were there last Thursday night for the ABT II, the American Ballet Theatre’s junior company.
Guests included: Charles Nolan whose loft was the scene of a dinner afterwards that Richard LeFrak and Andrew Tobias gave for the composer et al; Donald and Melania Trump, Allison and Leonard Stern, Cornelia Bregman, Daisy Soros, Hunt Slonem, Gillian and Sylvester Miniter, Joanne and Roberto De Guardiola, Somers Farkas, Pamela Fiori, Neal Fox, Jamee and Peter Gregory.
|“Thoroughly Modern Soane” was the theme for the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation’s Gala benefit dinner dance at the Rainbow Room the Wednesday before last.
Soane is revered by modernists and classicists alike for his innovative use of clerestory windows, domes and arches to bring light into classical interiors. He is also known for his house museum in London, which for almost two centuries has been a cult destination for travelers interested in art, architecture and interior design.
He was a man of his time and a man ahead of his time. He was a most unusual man, whatever that may mean, because he too was an impassioned, obsessive artist. That intensity is part of the draw that keeps people returning to see his creation, continuing to view him with awe.
Meanwhile, back at the event, Mayor Bloomberg issued a MESSAGE honoring Robert A.M. Stern. Mr. Stern is one of the most prominent American architects of his time. He is also a scholar and a highly successful architect as well, giving almost Renaissance proportions to his reputation. Architects are their own breed with a temperament not unlike a painter or a sculptor or a musician. They are also very political by nature. And the stuff of novelists.
|Among those joining in the evening's festivities were several important New York architects: Charles Gwathmey, Richard Meier, Jacquelin Robertson, Alexander Gorlin, Lee Mindel and Tom Kligerman. There were also designers: Keith Irvine, Ellie Cullman, Stephanie Stokes, Laura Blanco and Birch Coffey.
And also there were the patrons of architecture Richard H. Driehaus of Chicago, Cynthia and John Gunn of San Francisco and New Yorkers Joan Davidson, Victoria and Si Newhouse; purpose. And the tastemakers Hamish Bowles, Editor-in-Chief Vogue Living and Paige Rense, Editor-in-Chief Architectural Digest; Dr. Amy Meyers of the Yale Center for British Art, Christy MacLear of the Philip Johnson Glass House, Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund, Susan Henshaw Jones of the Museum of the City of New York, and Tim Knox, director of Sir John Soane's house museum in London. Also attending, Liliana Cavendish, Robert Couturier, composer Phillipe Bigar, artist, Kenneth Noland and Mica Ertegun.
|Clockwise from top left: A study of a residential tower in Boston; Study for the Spangler Center at the Harvard Business School; Study for a mountain clubhouse.|
|Each spring, the Parsons School of Design holds it annual benefit and fashion show. It’s a Who’s Who of American retail, fashion, and fashion press. In New York, this can be heady stuff. Their influence, their fame and fortune is rightfully the stuff of dreams and aspirations. This particular dinner has now been going on for decades. It is the dinner in the New York fashion world thas is a threshold for showcasing tomorrow’s talent and giving hope to the continuity of American fashion.
This year, in the Grand Hyatt’s ballroom, Barneys New York CEO Howard Socol and empress of the wrap dress Diane von Furstenberg were honored — specifically for DVF’s $250,000 gift to fund a new scholarship.
|Mogul, philanthropist (her $7 million gift to Parsons remains its largest ever) and activist Sheila Johnson (see her documentary “A Powerful Noise” that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival) introduced the new dean of fashion design, Simon Collins. But the real stars on this night were the clothes — from witty children’s wear to hard edged sportswear to the most exquisitely creative evening dresses. Best in show? Too many to count — but a billowing ivory charmeuse gown, an aquamarine column and a unique interpretation of a wedding dress had even the most jaded fashionistas cheering.
There: so much fashion royalty in attendance, in the form of Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Hamish Bowles, Alber Elbaz, Tim Gunn, non-fashion but every bit as royal and in fashion, Anderson Cooper; retail legend Arnold Aronson, designer and former CFDA president Stan Herman and bonafide Parsons alums Jeffrey Banks and Steven Stolman.
-- STM for New York Social Diary
|The National Jewelry Institute inaugurated a Designer Showcase as its first exhibition of contemporary jewelry. The collection comprises creations from leading designers both prestigious global brands as well as independent designers.
The exhibition features their newest creations, demonstrating how jewelry fashions its designs each season. Almost forty designers are represented, American, European, and Asian. Leading jewelry expert Ralph Esmerian served as curator of Designer Showcase. Guest curators include Beth Rudin DeWoody, Saks Fifth Avenue and World Gold Council.
The Designer Showcase jewelry will be on exhibition to the public through June 28, 2008. On July 26, Designer Showcase will open at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and be on display through January 18, 2009.
|300 prominent New York supporters of the arts gathered at the Mandarin Oriental for ArtsConnection’s annual benefit event to celebrate the arts and further ArtsConnection’smission of making the arts an essential part of every child’s education.
The evening was chaired by Linda LeRoy Janklow. Co-chaira were Susanna Aaron and Gary Ginsberg, Andrea and Marc Glimcher, Lisa and Richard Plepler.
Special Guest Sarah Jones, the Tony Award-winning playwright, actor and poet best known for “Bridge & Tunnel,” hosted the dinner program. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein was honored as a champion of arts education and for his role in the creation of The Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. New York artist George Condo was honored for his commitment to the vibrancy of the New York arts community.
|Others being honored included the 2008 ArtsConnection Janklow Award recipients. Established by Mrs. Janklow, the organization’s Founding Chairman. The Janklow Awards are presented annually to an ArtsConnection teaching artist and to a public school
ArtsConnection brings programs in music, dance, theater and visual arts to over 120 New York City public schools and has enriched the lives of over 3 million children who represent the economic diversity of New York’s five boroughs. The $600,000 raised by this benefit evening will help ensure that the organization will continue to enhance the lives of more than 30,000 New York City public school students in the coming year, connecting professional artists with students, teachers and families.
|Photographs by Ann Billingsley (ArtsConnection).|