Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Adoring Loring Farewell

Looking south along Central Park West. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.
12/2. Last night in New York. Down at Tiffany’s, there was a dinner for 130 in honor of John Loring who is “retiring” after thirty years as Design Director of Tiffany. Parties in stores are inevitably commercial ventures for the obvious reasons. However, Tiffany is Tiffany and even inevitable commercial isn’t like anything else, even non-.

However this wasn’t a store party, as I learned as I entered the reception room where they were holding cocktails (white wine, champagne or water). There were lots of familiar faces as well as some rarely seen familiar faces, as well as a mix that wasn’t so predictable. It turned out to be John’s guest list, of people who have been in his orbit, in his sphere of interest, of his friendship. There was Arlene Dahl. There was Fran Lebowitz. There was Paige Rense and Ken Noland, and there was Paloma Picasso and her mother Francoise Gilot. A wide array of New Yorkers and the world.

Anka Palitz, Francoise Gilot, and John Loring
Among them: Michael Vollbracht, Carmen dell’ Orefice, Kohle Yohannan, Anka Palitez, Tom and Diahnn McGrath, Bob Bradford and Barbara Taylor Bradford, Christopher Mason, Randy and Connie Jones, Margo Langenberg, Anne Slater and John Cahill, Kenny Lane, Wendy Moonan, Nina and Tim Zagat, Joanne and Roberto de Guardiola, Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Matt White and Tom Schumacher, Bob and Bea Guthrie, Ashton Hawkins, Marc Rosen, Steven and Kimberly Rockefeller, Jane Gaillard, Enid Nemy, Aileen Mehle, Richard Kaplan and Edwina Sandys, Richard and Karen LeFrak, Annette Tapert, Charles and Clo Cohen, Sandra McConnell and Chris Obetz, Ellen Graham, Gigi and Harry Benson, Fernanda Kellogg and Kurt Henckels, Mary Hilliard and Leonard Harris, Beth Canavan, Peter Schlesinger, Mario Buatta, Jeremy Wren, Barbara Cates, Candy Pratts-Price and lots more whom I hadn’t met or didn’t know. John Loring has lots and lots of friends.

The menu: Pan-Seared Scallops and Caramelized Lime, Mache and Cudrly Frisee; Marinated HangerSteak, Tricolor Cherry Tomatoes and Pomes Gaufeiettes; Sauteed Spinach with Pignoli Nuts, followed by Chocolate Souffle Cake, Fresh Raspberries, Peppermint Stick Ice Cream.

Mike Kowalski,
the President of Tiffany gave the introductory toast. I’ve heard Mr. Kowalski speak several times over the years at the Tiffany luncheons. He has a way of telling you about the company’s business, its progress, etc., as if it’s your company and your progress. You think, gee, this is good, as if he’s talking about your life. It’s a kind of down home, not quite aw-shucks -- because he’s quite resolute in his delivery -- and interesting. Tiffany was a rather small business grossing in the low nine figures and four or five stores when John Loring came on board. Last year there were more than 200 Tiffany stores around the world, grossing more than $3 billion. John Loring’s input, according to Mr. Kowalski, had a lot to do with that progress.
The Tiffany table for John Loring's dinner. The Fife and Drum.
However, that aside, John has also written about 25 books on Tiffany from design to precious gems to history to parties and weddings and just about anything else you can think of in relationship to Tiffany and then some. The oeuvre is the public version of Tiffany’s archive.

This is one of those men who gets a lot done in a day; works all the time, yet never seems as if there’s anything pressing other than maybe keeping a date for theater or ballet or dinner or a plane. He wears a smile even in repose and he’s always glad to see you.

It’s been an artist’s life for John Loring at Tiffany, a man dedicated to his interests and imagination. Epicurean. Last night was the party. At the end Wendy Moonan of the New York Times said she believed the evening marked the “end of an era.” I wasn’t sure what she meant although I know she observes the history of things with a practiced eye. However, John Loring is one of those people who’s projects and activities are never-ending, The artist’s life. Last night with Dinner at Tiffany’s.
Ellen Graham and friend Sean Driscoll and Annette Tapert Richard Kaplan and Edwina Sandys
Diahn McGrath Kohle Yohannen, Carmen Dell'Orifice, and Michael Vollbracht The Great Harry Benson at work
Matt White, Tom Schumacher, and Bob and Bea Guthrile Leonard Harris, Mary Hilliard, and Tim and Nina Zagat
Fran Lebowitz and Paloma Picasso Clo and Charles Cohen Joanne de Guardiola
Enid Nemy in her green Bill Blass Paloma Picasso with Hilary and Wilbur Ross John Cahill and Anne Slater
Sandra McConnell and Chris Obetz Karen LeFrak Barbara Taylor Bradford and Mr. Bob Bradford
Fernanda Kellogg and Beth Canavan Mario Buatta and Christopher Mason
Ultra Violet Wendy Moonan and Harry Benson Mary McFadden
The dinner was over about ten-thirty. I went across the street to have a look at the new Bergdorf windows. There are many great window displays for the holiday season in New York. All kinds of creative magic everywhere. I’ve only seen a few but Bergdorf’s is kind of like the gold standard for these eyes. Very creative, imaginative, sumptuous, luxurious, witty, wry, lavish and extravagant and lots lots more. You never know what you’re going to get. You only know it will be fabulous. The pictures I took barely reflect the genius therein.

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