Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall Beginnings

Looking north along Madison Avenue from the 50s. 5:30 PM. Photo: JH.
10/1. Yesterday in New York, last day in September. A beautiful day with occasional cloudiness, finished off by a soft steady rain at the midnight hour. Some of the trees are beginning to lose their leaves. Some turning slightly brown at the edges. There is not a lot of colorful foliage in autumn in New York on trees along the streets. The lawns of Central Park are beginning to be drenched in the autumn leaves, although usually in late October there is a week of Mother Nature’s divine palette in Central Park.

I had lunch at Michael’s with an old friend and we talked about the events financial. Almost everyone has something to say about “what is going on.” Although most of us really don’t know much about what is going on, or even begin comprehend what is going on.

Unfortunately the matters at hand are so complex and the solutions are so elusive as to seem impossible, that they are hard to grasp even when someone explains. This much we are learning: whatever it is, it is affecting the whole world. Nouriel Roubini believes it may be a financial meltdown affecting the entire world. The problem with information like that is we don’t know what it means, what it means in terms of how it affects our individual lives. A meltdown. Is that anything like a bad Tuna Melt? Or is it a financial Chernobyl?

Nevertheless, I love autumn in New York. About six I went down to Doubles, the private club in the Sherry Netherland where Chris Meigher and Quest magazine were hosting a cocktail party to celebrate the annual Quest 400 list which came out in the August issue. The “celebration” was moved into autumn because so many of those on the List are out of town in August.

Doubles has just undergone refurbishment, a chic rejuvenation, designed by Tom Britt (See NYSD HOUSE). Guests were getting a first-look as well as rubbing elbows with old friends and new.

I started this 400 List about fourteen years ago thinking of it only as a feature for that particular issue of Quest. We were surprised at its popularity. Compiling such a List is hardly scientific and it is always arguable. However, New York has always had something akin to it. There was of course Mrs. Astor’s famous list. There was also the Social Register which for many decades dominated the territory. Now there is the Quest 400.

There are highly social names on this list who rarely attend public events except for things like the opening of the Opera or the Ballet or ABT. There are highly social people who contribute to the institutions like The Frick and who represent families that go back a century or more. Then there are others whose portfolio took on crust forty years or a quarter century ago.

Society in New York is fluid and always shifting. In each successive generation there is a new crop of social patrons, who define the times and the temperment. Those who dominated in the Roaring 80’s are no longer prominent on the scene. Mainly they’ve either left town or are not interested, or both. Same with the 90’s. As things heated up on Wall Street in the 00’s so did the scene alter even more.

It was the New Money and Paris Hilton that set the tone for the social 00’s in New York. The New Money fanned the real estate market. It was a gilded synergy driving deal makers. The World Changed. Or so we thought.

Paris in 2003 with sister Nicky looking on.
Ironically Paris Hilton left town for her native L.A. just about as things were getting started here. However, she was the First Socialite of the 00’s in New York. There is no one amongst the celebrity-oriented “socialites” in New York today who can top her. Heiress / sexpot / actress/ singer / playgirl / videosexgirl.

There would have been no Gossip Girl if there hadn’t been a Paris. There wouldn’t even have been a single Desperate Housewives, here or anyplace else, if it weren’t for Paris.

The University of Paris is alive and well. Tinsley Mortimer, anybody? Fabiola Beracasa? The lovely Lydia Hearst Shaw? Olivia Palermo? Where would they be today without Paris? I think she even “wrote” a book. And she’s certainly beat them all in the most photographed department. I know, I know; I can hear the snickers as I write. But Paris Hilton was the one. She defined young New York socialite of the 00’s.

When she was first making her way in her late teens, she was a girl about whom they all said: “how can her mother and father let her do that??” Exactly.

Paris was the Warholian “It” girl of society in New York. She showed them what a “fifteen minute famer” could really do, and she did it, in spades. Andy would have loved it, and if he didn’t, it would only have meant he got old.

Paris, incidentally, is not on the List although her parents Rick and Kathy Hilton are. The Quest 400 remains a conservative list of those who are acquainted by one or two degrees of separation with a wide array of people in the world, people who drive and run the world.

Many of them at the party (pictured below with even more snapshots coming on tomorrow's diary) last night are old friends or new friends, who went to Doubles to say hello, have some delicious hors d’oeuvres from the club’s chef, and also enjoy the New York ritual of a well-populated cocktail party in a smart setting giving a little jolt of little Ole New York. Something everybody needs right now. Something that works wonders.
HUgh Bush and Toni Goodale Wendy Carduner and Roger Webster Michael and Tara Rockefeller with David Sherrill
Arlene Dahl, Sharon Sondes, and Marc Rosen Patrick McMullan and Chuck Pfeifer
Hannah Pakula Kay Gilman and Herb Schmertz Arlene Dahl and Mario Buatta
Arlene Dahl and Jeannie Pearman Chris Meigher, Gale Hayman, and Dr. Richard Bockman
Ramon Baiget Viale de Montebello and Peter Lyden Oh what Muffie just heard! Dana Hammond Stubgen and Dr. Patrick Stubgen
Gigi and Harry Benson, Katherine Bryan, Nina Reeves, and Sharon Hoge Jon Heinemann and Michelle Marie Heinemann
Reinaldo Herrera and Patrick McMullan Taki getting the inside from Doug Cramer R. Couri Hay and Michelle Marie Heinemann
Lisa Anastos and Kipton Kronkite Eric Javits Sharon Sondes and Geoffrey Thomas
Kenny Lane Martha and John Glass Roshi Ameri and Tala Bouzarjomehri
Hunt Slonem, Chris Mason, Charlie Scheips, and Ann Rapp Katherine and Jack Bryan
Emilia Saint-Amand HIlary and Wilbur Ross Dr. and Mrs. Joel Kasimir
Melissa and Chappy Morris Muffie Potter Aston and Bettina Zilkha Amy Hoadley and Eleanora Kennedy
Amy Fine Collins and Muffie Potter Aston Dr. Patrick Stubgen and Dana Hammond Stubgen Beth Hardwick
Jessie Araskog with George and Marianna Kaufman Betsy Green Michael Kennedy, H.B. Gianos, and John Richter
Jim Mitchell and Tony Manning Sabrina and Carl Forsythe with Missy McCloy
Daniel Benedict and Andrew Saffir Tom Britt and Missy McCloy Nina Richter and Jay Flagg
Peter Rogers who just returned from Venice telling Susan Burke the bill for two glasses of vodka at the bar in the Gritti was $70 Dana Hammond Stubgen, Dr. Patrick Stubgen, and Muffie Potter Aston
Susan Clarke Francesca Stanfill and Dick Ney Felicia Taylor, Charlie Scheips, and Lisa Anastos
Elizabeth and Ann Pyne George Green Kay Gilman, Muriel Siebert, and Wendy Carduner

Photographs by DPC/
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