Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Busy one on the city’s social calendar

Entrance to Time Warner Center. 10:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011. Temperatures in the 60s, cloudy by day and rainy by night, sometimes heavy.

It was a busy one on the city’s social calendar (and this is a highly limited look at it). At the Studio Museum in Harlem (144 West 125th Street between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Blvds), they were celebrating the writers of the Harlem Renaissance and the artists of the Bearden Project. The anthology of the Harlem Renaissance novels, edited by Rafia Zafar, portrays the African-American culture of Harlem of that time (1920s and 1930s), one of tumultuous change and tremendous hope. The authors -- Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Jean Toomer, Arna Bontemps, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Wallace Thurman, Claude McKay, Rudolph Fisher and George S. Schuyler  -- “make a major contribution to our understanding of the Harlem Renaissance and to the history of the novel in America,” in the words of Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Meanwhile, midtown at Cipriani 42nd Street they were holding the UNICEF 7th annual Snowflake Ball hosted by Andy Cohen and honoring Mark B. Grier of Prudential with the “Spirit of Compassion Award.” Pamela Fiori and Charlotte Moss were co-chairs, with junior co-chairs Maggie Betts and Barbara Bush (the granddaughter).

The evening’s namesake, the UNICEF Snowflake is the 28 foot ornament made up of 16,000 Baccarat handcut crystals now hanging over the junction of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.
I started out up at the Guggenheim Museum on 89th and Fifth where Margaret Russell, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest, was hosting a cocktail reception for “the New AD100.”

If you know anything about the interior design world, then you know about the AD100 – the magazine’s list of the top architects and interior designers in the world today.

Margaret Russell.
Were they all there? I don’t know but there were a lot of them that I recognized although the mob scene made it difficult for me to navigate with my digital. There were lots of photographers, however, so we’ll be able to show a closer look in the near future.

Otherwise it was what you would call a great cocktail party. The spirits were high with this group of super-competitors, so business must be good, or better, or not bad, or maybe it was just the cocktails. The ground floor of the museum is now just below the fantastic Maurizio Cattelan exhibition (see Jill Krementz’ coverage for NYSD), although the crowd was, for itself, the exhibition. And why not, since this town is major people-watching.

Leaving the museum, I caught a cab right out front with the intention of going by the Glenn Horowitz Gallery where his wife Tracey Jackson and John McWhinnie were hosting a book party for Michael Gross and his new book “Unreal Estate,” a history of Los Angeles’ super-luxe real estate in the triangle of Beverly Hills/Holmby Hills/Bel Air. I’m nearly finished with this tome, so more to come on that one too.
Last night's guests at the Guggenheim museum, assembled while Margaret Russell greets the AD100 (or at least a lot of them), under the Maurizio Cattelan exhibition hanging above. Despite the inclement weather, the mood was buoyant and celebratory with all that creative talent under one roof (or dome).
Mario Buatta. Randy Kemper and Tony Ingrao.
Lori Weitzner and Roger Thomas. Victoria Hagan.
The ever ebullient Bunny Williams enters the crowd, and chats with Len Morgan and Angus Wilkie of Cove Landing.
Campion Platt and friend. Alison Levasseur.
Thomas Jayne and his partner (of 27 years), Rick Ellis. Nicky Haslam, in from London for the festivities, with Martyn Lawrence-Bullard.
David Easton with Archivia's Cynthia Conligliaro and her husband Dr. Steven Trokel.
Robert A. M. Stern expresses his point while Ellie Cullman listens. John Barman and Kelly Graham confronted.
Pilar and Juan Pablo Molyneux. Milly de Cabrol.
Traffic and the weather got in the way. My cabbie decided it was faster to take Park Avenue down to 64th Street (and the Horowitz gallery) but by the time we got there I was getting anxious about my following stop: 583 Park Avenue where the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute was hosting its annual Gold Medal Gala.

The invitation called for 7:30 arrivals (and it was already past that). I had been told by one of the public relations staff that the Queen would be arriving between 7 and 7:15. Knowing how the Spanish time schedule runs much later than the typical American, I doubted that, but skipped Michael’s book party just in case.

At 7:45, guests were just arriving at 583 Park. The reception was being held on the lower level. There were a few dozen people milling about and no sign of Her Royal Highness. Fifteen minutes or so later, the royal retinue arrived with Oscar de la Renta who is chairman of the board of the Institute, along with the honorees, Mario Testino, Ken Chenault, Ferran Adrià, and Javier Bardem. Then came the flurry of photographers including Bill Cunningham of the Times and Mary Hilliard, who often shoots these parties for Vogue, as well as several other photographers. Everyone, with the exception of this photographing non-photographer had major equipment to work with, some large enough to push people (as in, other photographers) out of the way. Fortunately I was taller than everyone else and so, holding my digital above my head, I could work over them rather than around them.
Margo Langenberg and Tony Bechara were the first guests I ran into at the reception. As I stood with them and looked around with the digital I saw the self-confidence of true fashion.
Everyone waiting for the arrival of the Queen.
While waiting for the Queen’s arrival, I’d been considering what I could do to show you the evening, especially since I wasn’t staying for dinner. I had been invited to dine and they’d set up a “press” table for such matters but frankly there is nothing to be gained in attending a dinner like this and sitting with a bunch of reporters. It’s a complete waste of my timer under such circumstances, for what is there to learn about the guests can be gleaned from observation with a camera.

So, in the meantime, I milled about to get some shots of the very fashionable ladies. The Spanish women are very fashionable and with an excellent taste for the dramatic, yet restrained.
A surprise shot of the pailetted ladies ... Doda Voridis with Ken Lane ... Nancy Kissinger with Gaetana Enders. This was just before the royal arrival.
Finally, the Queen entered the reception room and headed right for a room behind a partition where I noticed Anna Wintour and Barbara Walters were waiting. We’ll call that the Green Room. I made for it too but was politely told it was off limits to Press. EXCEPT for Bill Cunningham of the Times. .
After a few minutes, Queen Sofia emerged with Messrs. de la Renta, Bardem, Chenault, Testino, and Adrià, ready for their receiving line. I quickly saw this would be today’s Diary as it was a lovely little playlet in the making, watching each of the characters play their role, defining their personalities (at least under the circumstances).
The receiving line is in place. Queen Sofia speaking with Mario Testino while Ferran Adrià anticipates. Sr. Adrià, 49, is the super-chef of El Bulli Restaurant in Costa Brava, perched above a cove of the Catalan Mediterranean near the French border. He is regarded as the greatest chef in the world and the proof is in the reservations -- 400 requests for every single seat in the place. Sr. Adrià is also known as the Salvador Dali of chefs because of his creative culinary imagination. He began his culinary career in 1980 at age 18, as a dishwasher in a little hotel in the town of Castelldefels where the chef taught him traditional cuisine. His goal is to "provide unexpected contrasts of flavor, temperature and texture. Nothing is what it seems. The idea is to provoke, surprise and delight the diner."
The receiving line ready and waiting: Oscar de la Renta, Queen Sofia, Mario Testino, Ferran Adrià, Ken Chenault, and Javier Bardem. The Queen has a lovely gentle manner and greets each guest with the same hospitable kindness. Javier Bardem, as you can see, decided for whatever reason to play it casual. The effect was two fold: at first the guests didn't know he was in the receiving line, while he himself looked like he felt a little out of place, but nevertheless grinning and bearing it.
Guests are received by the Queen, Mr. de la Renta, and the honorees while at the end of the line people begin to realize who Mr. Bardem is and begin to talk him up. He is as hospitable as the queen but jovial.
Looking over the photographers: Gaetana Enders greets the queen. The two women have known each other for a long time as Gaetana's husband, the late Tom Enders, was an American diplomat.
As the line is moving, Queen Sofia notices Doda Voridis coming through the line with Kenny Lane to greet the Queen
The queen is happy to see her friend Doda whom she has also known for a long time as Doda is a member of the Goulandris family, a prominent Greek shipping family. Queen Sofia is the sister of King Constantine of Greece.
Rosamund Bernier arrives to enter the receiving line. You can see the gracious manner of the queen as she and Mr. de la Renta chat with one of the guests.
Ken Chenault chatting with Bardem as they await the next guest.
The next guest is charmed by the actor ...
As was the next guest. Sr. Bardem's manner, like his style of dress, was informal and accessible and many were eager to respond to it.
Ready for their closeup.
A young guest interests the queen with her story as photographer Testino has pulled his digital from his pocket and is ready to take a couple of pictures himself.
Bardem shares a laugh with his fans eager for his company.
The end of the line: the world's greatest chef looks like he's wondering "how much longer ..." while CEO Chenault waits patiently and actor Bardem, almost hiding behind the partition, is flattered by the remarks of one of the guests.
Stars cannot hide from the enthusiasm of their many fans.
The queen and the honoree.
Mica Ertegun was about to go through the receiving line until she realized how long it was and decided she'd been there and done that enough.
Queen Sofia graciously awaits the next guest ... who bows before her presence.
Bardem receiving as George Moore introduces.
Pictures worth a thousand words (each).
The queen receives as photographer Testino keeps his digital close by.
Princess Alexandra of Greece in the receiving line ... Boaz Mazor, Gaetana Enders, and friends.
The dinner guests gathering in the main hall of the Delano and Aldrich classic interior.
The table setting.

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