Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hilfiger and Hoge

The scene at the Neue Galerie where Evelyn and Leonard Lauder hosted an engagement party for Tommy Hilfiger and his fiancée, Dee Ocleppo.
A very hot day in New York. Heat. Heat on the pavement, on the buildings and in the thick breezes that blow along the East River. Amazing heat.

I went down to Michael’s for lunch for the first time in several days. It was uncharacteristically quiet with several empty tables – unheard of in a Michael’s lunch time. Of course it was cool inside and beautifully decorated with massive bouquets of what look like rhododendron branches. The man with the shoes, George Malkemus, who owns the Manolo Blahnik USA, was lunching with the Lady of Shoes (and fashion) Candy Pratts Price, on one side. On the other Robbie Browne the mega-real estate broker was lunching with his goddaughter and her mother, in from Los Angeles. And in the bay there were about twelve women and two men celebrating the birthday of Sherrie Rollins – the men being her husband Ed and Robert Zimmerman. Among the women I spotted were Jolie Hunt, Lyn Paulsin, Debbie Grubman.

The heat in the city at this intensity takes over and monopolizes conversation and casts its influence on the way we look at things. So the table subjects were not light, nor particularly upbeat. Like: the blind item you read here a few days ago about the elderly woman who’d lost most if not all of her fortune to the workings of her trusted friend and accountant. My lunch partner told me about yet another woman of a certain age, a very prominent New York socialite, thrice married, once titled, once mistress of a tycoon, now a widow of a very rich man – richer than the first story – who is under the spell of very attentive young man “overseeing” her money. Hundreds of millions in this case.

Tommy Hilfiger and Dee Ocleppo
There were two special cocktail parties last night. Up at the Neue Galerie, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder hosted an engagement party for Tommy Hilfiger and his fiancée, Dee Ocleppo. The Neue Galerie, on 86th and Fifth, if you didn’t know, was started by Mr. Lauder’s brother Ronald and the late art dealer Serge Sabarsky. 

The brick and limestone mansion is a grand place for an engagement party for a fashion tycoon. It was built in 1914 by Carrere and Hastings for William Starr Miller. It was also the last home of Grace Wilson Vanderbilt (Mrs. Cornellius Jr.)  from 1943 until her death ten years later.

There was a big crowd last night of social and business friends of Mr. Hilfiger and the Lauders including Donald and Susan Newhouse, Gayle King, various Lauders including William and his wife Karen, and his cousin Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer, Clive Davis, Daria and Larry Leeds, Sessa and Richard Johnson, Russell Simmons, Daniel Benedict and Andrew Saffir, Patrick McMullan, Bettina Zilkha, Diana Picasso.

The Lauders and Mr. Hilfiger also have a strong business connection as Estee Lauder distributes the Hilfiger fragrances. 

The couple are planning to marry on August 8th. When I asked Mr. Hilfiger the date, he said: “eight eight eight.”

The champagne was flowing and at seven-fifteen in the upstairs gallery where the famous Klimt for which Ronald Lauder paid $135 million is hung, there was an official toast to the couple. It was neither your run of the mill nor a traditional engagement party. Grown-ups as newlyweds, it was a coming together of business and social associations and had a very executive feel.

Mr. Hilfiger was the most famous face in the room, and almost iconically famous it is. The betrothed couple were dressed the part and looked as if they were beating the heat of the day – he in a well-tailored grey suit and she in a cool looking white lace cotton dress. Looking just a smidge older than the famous image, he still looks boyish and has kept his boyish figure. His bride-to-be looks like a Sunkist baby from either Florida or Southern California. Together they exude 21st century Americana just like the man’s famous image: boy next door as tycoon.
Susan and Dom Telesco
Daniel Benedict and Andrew Saffir
Tommy Hilfiger, Dee Ocleppo, and Leonard Lauder
Susan and Donald Newhouse
Gayle King and Patrick McMullan
Bettina Zilkha and friend
Diana Picasso and Giles Bensimon
Laura and Harry Slatkin
Patrick McMullan
Francesca Pagano, Harriet Matthews, and Emmy O'Connell
After I got a shot of the couple, I was back out into the intense heat of the night and caught a cab down to Lexington Avenue in the 60s where Shirley Lord Rosenthal was hosting a cocktail party for her old friend (and her late husband Abe’s good friend) Warren Hoge, the New York Times reporter and editor who has retired from the paper and will soon begin a new career as Vice President and Director of External Relations for a think tank called the International Peace Institute.

Warren has had a wide variety of beats, including London, Rio, and most recently the UN. Off the world’s stage he’s a seasoned crooner and aficionado of American tunes. Last night I learned that he was also a member of the Whiffenpoofs at Yale and sang with his group just last weekend when they celebrated their 45th  class reunion at New Haven.
Henry Kissinger, Lyn Nesbit, and Warren Hoge
Olivia Hoge
The first time I met Warren we got into talking about American pop and songs we’d liked since we were kids. I also happened to tell him about my collaboration with pop icon of those days, Debbie Reynolds, on her autobiography a number of years ago. Warren, it turned out, loved Debbie Reynolds and especially loved a hit song she sang in a picture she made called “Two Weeks With Love”  in the early 1950s – “Abba Dabba Honeymoon”  at which point the two of us started singing the corny but very  catchy lyric:

Abba-dabba-dabba-dabba-dabba-dabba-dabba said the Monkey to the Chimp;
Abba-dabba-dabba-dabba-dabba-dabba-dab said the Chimpy to the Monk.

All night long they’d chatter away;
All day long they were happy and gay
Singin’ and swingin’ in a honky tonky way.

You had to be there. In the 50s I mean. That’s what it was like. Albeit memorable. Anyway, the next time I saw Warren after our first meeting and impromptu concert, he told me that for days  after that he could not stop singing the song in his head.
On the tray of canapes are a picture of Warren the student, Warren the reporter with his friend and mentor Abe Rosenthal, and Warren in the Amazon having fallen in but keeping his glass (of what I don't know) steady.
You ever have that feeling? Weird but real, no?

Anyway, I got to the cocktail a bit late but there were still quite a few present including Carl Bernstein, Gay Talese, Suzanne and Bill McDonough, Mort Zuckerman, Henry and Nancy Kissinger, Happy Rockefeller, Lynn Nesbit, Mica Ertegun, Mr. Hoge’s beautiful wife Olivia (whom he met in Brazil); Mitch and Sarah Rosenthal, Wendy Vanderbilt, Gail and Kevin Buckley, Wendy Luers, Peter Brown, Pete Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney.

Then it was back into the heat and an early(er) evening for the NYSD. Whew.
Bill and Suzanne McDonough
Mitch Rosenthal and Sarah Simms Rosenthal
Wendy Luers and Carl Bernstein
Alice Mayhew, Gail and Kevin Buckley, and Wendy Vanderbilt
Shirley Lord Rosenthal and Warren Hoge
Mica Ertegun and Pat Shoenfeld
In Shirley's living room

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