Wednesday, September 22, 2010

From the dark to the light

The full moon over Manhattan at 64th Street and Riverside Blvd. 10:30 PM. Photo: JH.
September 22, 2010. Now. Today is the Autumn equinox. I wrote earlier that it was yesterday and got quite a few corrections from readers. Actually, it’s at 11:09 pm today, so it’s almost tomorrow; so I was way off.

Yesterday was another beautiful day in New York, sunny and mild, peaceful and serene. It is UN Week in New York. Traffic everywhere.
The sun. 7:03 PM.
The moon. 10:45 PM.
There was a lot of activity last night, and it was a perfect night to be out. I went down to Ann Ziff’s new shop Tamsen Z on Madison Avenue between 66th and 67th. NYSD readers may recall other posts we did about Mrs. Ziff who is a jewelry designer of the most spectacular pieces, all made with precious stones. Emeralds, rubies, sapphires.

For a long time Mrs. Z worked out of her Fifth Avenue apartment. Her dream was a shop on Madison Avenue. That dream was realized about a month ago and made official last night at her opening cocktail reception.
Ann Ziff. Simon Pinniger, Carolyne Roehm, and Amy Fine Collins.
I ran into Gillian and Sylvester Miniter. She was in a long dress, and he all spiffed up in black tie. I knew where they were headed. Meanwhile, they were also going my way, four blocks down the avenue to Leviev where there was a reception for Evelyn Lauder and her Breast Cancer Research Foundation (whose luncheon is coming up soon).

Mrs. Lauder always draws a crowd as she has a lot of supporters.

Evelyn Lauder suddenly spying DPC's digital overhead.
It was dusk when we strolled the few blocks to 63rd and Madison. There were a lot of people walking home or to dinner, and we saw several people we knew. I love that about New York: millions living and working here, and you run into people from your neighborhood, your past, your hometown, and your last month’s lunch date all in one short stroll on Madison Avenue at 7 pm.

Yes it’s true that there’s the commonality of the neighborhood, but on a nice night in New York, many people prefer to walk than ride. It’s one of the pleasures of city life.

There was a good crowd at Leviev. The cocktail was on the mezzanine salon where Mrs. Lauder was standing surrounded by friends, next to a tall display case containing a diamond necklace with a 76 carat heart shaped diamond.

My photograph of it is inadequate because the diamond gives off so much reflective light that my little digital couldn’t handle it. Neither could a lot of the ladies in the room. Mrs. Lauder told me it was hers, that if I looked closely enough I could see her initials on the back. I’m so gullible I actually looked.

The theme of the party was Pink. Like the Pink Ribbon that Mrs. Lauder created as a symbol of their task (finding a cure for breast cancer). Leviev is also one of the sponsors of the BCRF’s upcoming luncheon.

There were pink roses all around (and in the goody-bag everyone got to take home) and pink champagne. And haute joaillerie hors d’oeurves. Never mind, just take my word for it. So fancy and so good; what more could I say.
The display case with the 76-carat diamond necklace.
Lisa and David Klein with Paul Raps and Francesca Stanfill.
Several women put their drinks down when I went to take their pictures. This is a fairly new habit. I’m not sure where it came from. Maybe the smoke police who’ve succeeded so well they needed a new issue. The drink police. No drinks in hand when being photographed. Oddly most of the women who put down their drinks are drinking water with a lime in it. It’s complete silliness but many have been sufficiently intimidated into going along. It’s hilarious, and yet even the most intelligent women in the room (not all of course) fall for it.

They were also actually drinking pink champagne (besides the water) – and loving it – over at Leviev. Uh-oh, don’t tell mama. People were happy to be out. And they looked good too. Maybe it was in the water.
Evelyn Lauder and Gillian Miniter. Jeanne Pearman, Ellery Gordon, and Marjorie Reed Gordon.
Christy Ferer, Harriet Weintraub, and Caroline Hirsch. Eleanora Kennedy and Anna Safir.
I left with the Miniters who gave me a ride down to Cipriani 42nd Street where New Yorkers For Children were holding their annual Fall Gala to benefit youth in foster care in New York City. I went to their first benefit 14 years ago, invited by my friend Beth DeWoody who was one of the founding committee which included, I think, others such as Oscar de la Renta and Susan Burden. It’s still Susan Burden’s baby (among other things). It was the brainchild of Nicholas Scoppetta who had been Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Service. Commissioner Scoppetta was in foster care himself. He knew what was needed.

There are 16,000 young people in foster care in New York City. It’s a hard life and a hard way to start out life. New Yorkers For Children makes it its business to assist as many they can, in the task of going out into the world as independent people. Alone is the operative word that afflicts all of these children. Dark is the other word.

There is light in all of us. New Yorkers For Children raised funds to provide assistance for college scholarships, tutoring programs, job training and networking opportunities. Kids going to college are provided with allowances, a laptop, living supplies as well as guidance in making new lives.
Nina Griscom and Leonel Piraino arriving at the New Yorkers For Children gala with Nina also spotting DPC's digial overhead.
Alexandra Lebenthal and Susan Tabak. Nathan Bernstein, Katharina Otto-Bernstein, and Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos.
The only problem is NYFC is limited in its ability to help more children. More is needed. However, they raised about $1.5 million last night. I think that’s a record. Jamie Niven from Sotheby’s conducting an auction moved them up the few notches to take them to a record.

They held their first “gala” thirteen years ago at the Chelsea Piers. It’s a great venue for events but because of its far west location, it’s kind of like the out-of-town tryouts in the charity world. The big time comes when they take over the hotel ballrooms like the Waldorf, the Plaza, the Pierre, the Mandarin, the St. Regis or that once-upon-a-time cathedral of Thrift and Savings (The Bowery Savings Bank), Cipriani 42nd Street.
Andrea Scoppetta, Belle Burden Davis, and Susan Burden. Vicky Ward.
What is James Wearing? Marjorie Gubelmann and friends.
Debbie Bancroft and Nicholas Scoppetta. John Slattery.
NYFC was the show last night, and you got it as soon as you walked through the revolving door. The red carpet (I made it just on time to get Nina and Leo passing through the throng of cameras), the lights, the table décor and the women in long dresses. Very glam.

The trains are still in fashion. Leaving the cocktail space to go into the dining room, I was waiting for the woman in front of me to move forward. Finally she said: “you’re stepping on my dress.” I looked down. Indeed I was. I moved back a couple of steps. She started to move but stopped: “You’re still stepping on my dress.” I looked down. Indeed, I was. I stepped back. I still was!
Chic. The train that couldn't move.
I got a shot of her as she departed company when my feet departed lingering hems. “Trains” are not exactly new. At the end of the last Gilded Age, they were very popular also, especially with the Edwardians and the Parisiennes. However, those girls knew enough to pick them up when walking around. They’re not dustrags, after all. Or trail blazers.

Cipriani’s dinner menu is right off their restaurant menus and very tasty. The starter was a prosciutto, mozzarella and greens along with the signature Cipriani croissant rolls. Then came the main course: a filet mignon about 4 inches high. I’m not exaggerating. It must weigh at least a pound. Served with a bundle of haricot verts steamed al dente. And polenta. All excellent although, I could have used a doggie bag for the filet. So could my doggies.
The table setting. The greeting.
Barbara de Portago with her son Lieutenant Russell Grant.
Last night was the first major dressy gala of the season. At least the first one I’ve been too. It drew a very big crowd which was somewhat surprising if you read the financial news. And it made record numbers in their quest to help the young people. This is now a mainly young group of women, and some men, who stage this benefit. They sell a lot of tickets. The dress-up is part of the entertainment. A big part. The funds raised is the icing on the cake.

The result of their efforts affects the lives of many young New Yorkers starting out alone without any other sense of support. And the NYFC support is real; it makes the difference. As Chantal Schloss, winner of last year’s Spirit Award (given to a student who has excelled) pointed out last night, “education is everything.” Through education people can begin to see and realize the possibilities in their own lives on their own.

Selita Ebanks, the fashion model was emcee. She too was placed in foster care at age 12. Alone is the word. Keith Bulluck, Giants’ All-Pro Linebacker; same thing. The foster parents who gave him a home made a difference and today he’s got his own foundation working on the same issue: helping.
The kids from PS 22 in Staten Island took the stage and sang John Lennon's "Imagine" and brought down the house.
Selita Ebanks as emcee tells the audience about her young life in foster care, explaining delicately that the experience -- being put into foster care, and often remaining there, as "very unsettling" for any young person. Alone.
Keith Bulluck telling the audience about his experience in foster care and how he made his way.
The room, with Jamie Niven condcuting the evening's auction.
The entrance to the room.
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