Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Everything is about to change

Windswept trees along Riverside Drive. 9:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010. It rained yesterday in New York. Before I turned in very late the night before last, I went out onto the terrace to check the weather. It was misty, almost foggy. I love these days at this time of the year. The air is redolent of wet earth and flora. Everything is about to change. The energy in the city changes with it. Yesterday morning when I awoke I could hear the splashing of the cars speeding past on East End Avenue. It rained off and on all day, sometimes light, sometimes heavy. In the late afternoon it got humid.

There were two invitations for last night.
Both 6 to 8. Appealing because it meant I’d get home at a decent hour. One was a special invitation to “celebrate the CD release of Confessions,” by Liza Minnelli, with an intimate performance by Liza at New York City’s exclusive Gramercy Park Hotel “Rose Bar Sessions.”

The other was an invitation a booksigning hosted by Bunny Williams and John Rosselli at John’s shop “Treillage” (one of them) on East 75th Street between York and First, which is in my neighborhood. I figured I could stop by there first, take a picture of the author, see what it was about and on down to Liza’s “intimate performance.”
View from the entrance of Treillage last night. That's John Rosselli in the tan jacket. Click to order.
Jane Garmey signs her book.
John M. Hall sets down his John Hancock.
I was late getting out the door. It was raining hard. I took a cab the eight or so blocks to Treillage. The shop, which was once a garage or a small factory, had a good sized crowd. Rosselli/Williams parties are always friendly affairs. A great many of the guests are involved in the design/interior/architectural/horticultural business and myriad interrelated businesses like real estate, art, textiles and on and on. Many know each other, or know of each other, so interest is everywhere, as well as camaraderie.

They all always look like they’re having a good time -- drinking, gnoshing and talking and meeting. It’s a small but vital world in a big smaller world. These people are in the business of catering to other people’s imagination and sensibilities. Novels abound, although few will ever be written. Secrets may go to the grave, although not before being passed around some late night dinner table in Litchfield County or the outer environs of New York affluence after a few bottles of good wine.
John M. Hall and Private Gardens of Connecticut. Barbara Cates and Robert Rufino with Mish Tworkowski in the background.
Nick Stern and Fred Bland. David Duncan and Sheila Kotur.
But what were they talking about at this kind of party? Over in one corner Robert Rufino (see NYSD House), formerly of Tiffany was talking to a group. The news in the room was that he’d just been named Editor-at-large of Architectural Digest by Margaret Russell the new E-I-C succeeding the legendary Paige Rense.

When I took that picture of Claire Potter and Duane Hampton ... they were talking (they actually stopped when they realized what I was doing). Duane was telling Claire about the trip she and her daughter Alexa took to Omaha. Duane is mad for Omaha. It made a big impression. It reminded me of when I went to visit a college friend in Pittsburgh many years ago. We New Yorkers are amazed at how beautiful these American cities are, and what good lives can be had there.
Claire Potter and Duane Hampton.
Sean Driscoll, Ms. Potter, and Chris Spitzmiller.
The Hampton Mother/Daughter duo spoke and signed books in Omaha. Alexa’s book is just out and it’s an eye-opener about the daughter who decided to carry her father’s mantle, and it’s beautiful. But Duane said Omaha was full of activity that impressed them, full of business, beautiful homes, beautiful parks. “You should go there!” she said. Hello Omaha, Hello!

Claire Potter, incidentally, is this week’s NYSD HOUSE interview coming up Friday by Sian Ballen and Lesley Hauge, with interiors photographed by JH.

A few steps away at a big table, Jane Garmey and John Hall were signing copies of their Private Gardens of Connecticut (text by Garmey, photography by Hall), published by Monacelli Press. This is one of those books where the next page is more beautiful than the last.
Estelle Greer with Tom Lampson. Deborah Buck.
There are 28 Connecticut gardens in this book. Some belong to well known New Yorkers – such as art collector Agnes Gund, Anne Bass, Oscar and Annette de la Renta, Bunny Williams, Edward Lee Cave, Robert Couturier, Isabel Fowlkes. They’re all so beautiful, as well as interesting in reading about the “gardening” histories and objectives.

The landscapes evoke huge nostalgia for the countryside at this time of the year for this New England boy. They are also a tribute to a great deal of investment, that which only comes with a very healthy bank account. Nevertheless, there is that strong reference to the English countryside, but where the emphasis is on the actual land and garden design rather than architecture. It’s often extravagant and even lavish, but Mother Nature is the ultimate collaborator and provider of universal beauty, and that’s what makes it so compelling and awesome.

Meanwhile, my idea of going into Treillage, taking a shot and moving on, evaporated in the conversations that were obviously inevitable. It was 7:30 before I got out, and it was still raining. This kind of conundrum happens to me all the time. What should I do?

Gramercy was at least ten or fifteen minutes away without any traffic glitch. A risk in itself. Liza’s performance even if it started later than scheduled, would be over or close to it by the time I got there. In a crowd. Could I even get a shot of her? Would it matter? The photo in the invitation is a beauty.

My main motivation was simply to support Liza. I’m an admirer of the lady and her talent. I love the tremulous voice and wide-bright eyes. I love all that heritage that she embodies in sight and sound including that hint of her mother whom some regard as the greatest entertainer of the 20th century.

The child inherited a healthy dose of that stardust and has worked it amply for what is now a life half again as long as her mother’s. The world knows all about Liza’s ups and downs. And like the Sondheim song says, she’s “still here.” And still selling those songs and moving them’s feet. This is quite an accomplishment no matter what anyone thinks. So, don’t forget, the CD is called “Confessions.”

Meanwhile, have you got your tickets yet for the Fete de Swifty? Last Wednesday at Le Cirque the Junior Leader Chairs of the Fete hosted a pre-event to stir up ticket sales and awareness for the upcoming sixth annual Fete de Swifty, which will be held tomorrow night from 6 to 9 in the big tent on East 73rd between Lexington and Third.

Mauro Maccioni
Junior Leader Chairs Jake Bright, Sora Caetano, Keri Ingvarsson, Mia Morgan and Mike Muse, along with support from Cocody Productions on the turntables, The King Collective at the door and brothers Marco and Mauro Maccioni, co-hosted and showed their support with champagne, wine and selected hors d’oeuvres.  

The Junior Leader Fete Committee members and their guests – all under 40. Additional notable attendees included designer Ivana Helsinki, Roger Webster and Jason Grant, former “Apprentice” Kwame Jackson,  Susan Shin and artist Mila Knoll. Jack Welch made a coincidental appearance at popular Le Cirque bar keep Billy Ghobane’s station, while several young Fete Committee members clamored to introduce themselves.

The Fete was founded by Liz Smith in 2004 to help the citizens of the city. Since its inception it has been benefiting The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City’s Family Justice Initiative, administered by the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence. The priority is to raise funds for projects and organizations that help children and families in need.

The annual party has become one of the most popular and festive social affairs of the fall season. The Junior Leader Chairs added a lower ticket price to the slate this season, albeit only at a quota that was nearly sold out by Wednesday’s pre-event. For the cost of only $150 and a driver’s license that says you’re under 40 – the city’s newest baby socialites can now attend Fete with the prominent grown ups without breaking the bank. Click here to order your tickets NOW.
This year's Fete de Swifty Junior Leader Chairs Keri Ingvarsson, Jake Bright, Mike Muse, Sora Caetano, and Mia Morgan.
The 2010 Fete de Swifty Junior Leader Committee.
Junior Leader Chairs Jake Bright and Keri Ingvarsson; Susan Shin, and Junior Leader Chair Mia Morgan.
Laura Johnson Avenessian, Jenny Sharfstein, Cory Davis, and Jennifer Atanasoska.
Jason Brown, Simone Ward, Candice Cook, Mike Muse, and Nnamdi Chieku.
Dawne Marie Grannum, Myrlanda Coma, Dr. Erika Faust, Chantalle Pierre-Luis, and Dorothy Joseph.
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