|New York sky. 6:30 PM. Photo: JH.|
|September 30, 2009. A day that looked like rain a-comin’, but no. There’s a moment at this time of year, and then again in April when there’s no heat inside New York apartment buildings and no heat outside. Sweaters and jackets come out.
Last night in New York. Down at the Verdura Salon at 745 Fifth Avenue there was a cocktail party for Frank Bowling, the Ambassador of the new Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Frank is famous among the famous, once General Manager of the Carlyle here in New York, as well as the Bel Air and the Peninsula in Los Angeles.
Many of the gratefuls showed up to toast the popular host to the most. “Frank has done so many favors for so many famous people you wouldn’t believe it,” one of his fans told me.
|The young duc di Verdura with photographer Cecil Beaton.|
|More photos from the Verdura collection in the firm's showcases of jewels.|
|The chic display rooms of the Verdura salon which was re-designed and decorated a couple of years ago by the very talented Keith Langham were wall-to-wall, showcase-to-showcase happy to celebrate the occasion.
Among the crowd: Elaine Stritch, Bob and Barbara Taylor Bradford, Arlene Dahl and Marc Rosen, Charles Masson of La Grenouille, Peter Brown, Casey Ribicoff, John Barrett, Pamela Fiori of Town & Country, Rex Reed, producer Jeff Sharp.
|Topsy Taylor, Hilary Califano and Joy Ingham in some Verdura. The mothers of all three were early Verdura clients, as are they. Ingham refers to Verdura as "the hardware store."|
|The original Chanel cuffs, designed by Fulco Verdura for his then boss, Coco Chanel, purchased at auction by Ward Landrigan and now part of the Verdura museum collection.|
|A set of the 70th anniversary special Chanel cuffs (an edition of 70).|
|Verdura also wisely used the evening to showcase their 70th Anniversary collection and the new “Fulco cuff.” Fulco Verdura’s stuff besides being beautiful is witty and playful. The cuff is a newly created reproduction of the original cuff that Fulco Verdura designed for Coco Chanel when he was working for her in Paris in the 1930s as her head jewelry designer.
Cole and Linda Porter had introduced their Sicilian playboy friend, the duc di Verdura to Coco Chanel in order to put his talent to work. The iconic cuff was only one of his many creations for Coco.
|Some of Fulco's work with diamonds and emeralds.|
|Photos of Fulco dressed for costume parties which were very popular among the social set through the first half of the 20th century.|
|Fulco in costume with his friends Prince Jean-Louis de Faucigny-Lucinge and his wife Liliane (known as Baba). The Faucigny-Lucinges were famous international partygivers in the period between the two world wars.|
|Verdura has reproduced 70 of them – numbered to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of his business in America. If bought in pairs (which is how Mlle. Chanel wore them), there will be only thirty-five women in the world who will be the proud possessors of this piece of fashion history. The original Chanel cuffs were purchased at auction a few years ago by Verdura’s owner and chairman Ward Landrigan and are now on display in the firm’s “museum” collection.
Fulco worked for Chanel in Paris, and then in 1939, only months before Paris fell to the Nazis, he decided to come to America to try his luck independently. His backers were Cole Porter and Vincent Astor (Brooke Astor’s last husband who was then married to Helen Huntington Astor but living with Minnie Cushing, sister of Babe – who would eventually married William Paley, and Betsey (Mrs. James) Roosevelt – who later married Jock Whitney).
|An array of Verdura classic jeweled earrings.|
|Photo of Fulco and Chanel admiring his cuff with the Maltese Cross. This version of Fulco's Maltese Cross belonged to Diana Vreeland.|
|Some of Verdura's pearl creations wiht the creator looking on.|
|The Verdura atelier was just a block south from the current headquarters, on Fifth Avenue between 55th and 56th, in what is now Henri Bendel, and it was an instant success.
It was there that the fun-loving Verdura entertained socialite friends and glamorous ladies, along with movie stars, in a salon-like atmosphere while he working at his drawing board designing custom pieces for them. Many of his clients were also the playboys and tycoons who loved have a hand in the special designs for the women in their lives. The Duke of Windsor was also a client.
|Most of the Landrigan family (sans Nico): Ward Landrigan, Dr. India Landrigan Bayley, Dr. Ryan Bayley, Kim Roosenburg and Judith Landrigan|
|Ward Landrigan, a former executive with Sotheby’s acquired Verdura in 1985, including the firm’s archive of nearly 10,000 sketches Fulco made for his friends and clients.|
|Also last night ... on one of the first cool nights of autumn in New York, the crowd stayed warm inside the heated tent at the Central Park Zoo as they celebrated the debut of James Gardner's novel, The Lion Killer. The book, described as "a thriller with bite," chronicles a search for a missing tourist that stretches all the way from the United States to Zimbabwe to the Sudan. Gardner himself has traveled to Africa more than two dozen times since his first trip in 1968.
As guests nibbled on sliders and shrimp, Hasan Bakr provided musical entertainment with traditional African instruments like the ngoni, a harp-lute, and the djembe, a hand drum.
|Hasan Bakr playing the ngoni and the djembe.|
|The crowd included Mimi Strong, Gardner's literary agent; Maria Cooper; Sharon Bush; Mark Gilbertson; Tina Louise (who played Ginger in Gilligan's Island and is currently working on her second children's book); and Gillian Miniter.
|This past Tuesday, Tina Brown held a ladies luncheon (plus Brown’s husband, Sir Harold Evans) for former Clinton Administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at their Sutton Place maisonette.
The event was in honor of the publication of Albright’s new book Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box and was sponsored by David Yurman and Philanthropic Capital Advisors. Part illustrated memoir, part social history, Albright discusses the nature of the pins she wore as she met with world leaders and represented her country in formal and informal settings around the world.
|Among those attending were Candice Bergen, Tory Burch, Campbell Brown, Joan Ganz Cooney, Cheryl Fishbein, Linda Janklow, Veronica Kelly, Catie Maroon, Susan Mercendetti, Pat Mitchell, Lynn Nesbit, Nicole Seligman, Bren Simon, Suzy Welch and Maureen White-Ratner.|