Monday, May 7, 2012

A wedding weekend

An abandoned slipper. 5:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, May 7, 2012. A punky weekend, weather-wise, with only enough clear sky on Friday night to catch a glimpse of the Full Moon (which was Saturday), but then by mid-afternoon Sunday, sunshine, lovely and fair in New York.

Another change in the weather was acknowledged yesterday in “dear old France” when M. Sarkozy was defeated the election for President by Francois Hollande, a “Socialist.” Political terms for various points of view are a joke when you consider our histories. People are transfixed by the word Socialist these days. I remember when it was Commie.

“Socialist" President Francois Hollande.
My father called them Reds, and he wasn’t talking kindly. He was referring to the ones in his union – immigrants whom he called “DPs,” refugees who came to this country after the (Second World) War. My father was suspicious of their politics and all of their motives, suspecting they were trying to “take over.” He was far from alone in his opinion.

I never knew anything about the business of the union he belonged to, although he often talked about it with my mother at the kitchen table. He talked and she listened and heard about the sons-a-bitches, G.D. Reds. DPs. They were bad, whatever they were, and he blamed Roosevelt and Truman. I don’t know what happened to them. I grew up and went away to college and my father retired.

This was back when we were building bomb shelters in our backyards for when the Russians dropped the bomb on us. The generation raising us had endured and struggled through the Great Depression. We all heard about it at the dinner table, and for many of us it formed our sense of self in the years to follow.

But the Bomb was a bigger fear and the Russkys were the devil incarnate. They sure they looked it. Not like today where you see Vladimir Putin marching around shirtless, showing off his pecs. It’s a wonder he’s not wearing one of those fashionable three-day beard growths.

The Russians are comin’, the Russians are comin’ was also a constant, heartfelt, if terrifying, refrain. Children growing up then (this writer) were damned scared. Of course, eventually the Russians did come, but long after the detente. Decades later, arriving on their private G-Fives and 747s and sea-going yachts, with their billions buying up $88 million apartments on the Park and mansions in Beverly Hills for their sons and daughters. The only thing “red” about them these days, is the soles of the women’s shoes -- M. Louboutin.

I went to a wedding over the weekend. I’m not fond of going anywhere on any Saturday which is basically my only day without deadlines. Nor am I fond of weddings – although I concede they’re often really great fun if you’re young (20s/30s) or very young, i.e., kids. Women like weddings more than men. I don’t know why that is although the reason is probably obvious to all women.

However, things being what they are, I have now been to two weddings in less than a year – some kind of record – and, aside from bah-humbug me, I can honestly say I had a very good time at both. The first was the aforementioned wedding of JH and Danielle Rossi and the second was Saturday when Allegra Ford married Josh Thomas followed by a reception at 583 Park Avenue.
Allegra Ford and Josh Thomas exchanging marital vows before Father Pete Colapietro on Saturday afternoon at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer on Lexington Avenue and 66th Street.
The exchange of rings; I do, I do ...
In both cases, my “enjoying” these weddings had something to do with the fact that these are all people I love, and seeing their fun and joy and pleasure is sweet. I know Allegra, as her mother Anne Ford, and her aunt Charlotte Ford, are personal friends. The Fords are an old fashioned family in certain ways that are contemporary yet endearing. And exemplary. The parents I know of my generation of this family have ongoing, involved relationships with their children. This is also true of the sisters’ brother Edsel and his wife Cynthia who are devoted to their sons – and you can see it is reciprocal. You can see when you’re in their company how warmly they relate to each other.

Allegra has an older brother, Al Uzielli (both are the children of the late Gianni Uzielli). Al walked his sister down the aisle at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer on Lexington Avenue and 66th Street. Coincidentally there was some kind of block long Cinco de Mayo street fair going on in front of the church, so you could say everyone was celebrating the day (and probably driving a lot of the neighbors nuts because of the traffic jams).
The new Mr. and Mrs. Thomas depart.
The flower girls and ring bearers follow.
St. Vincent Ferrer is a beautiful church and its sound is rather good for a vaulted stone and glass edifice of enormous proportions. Plus its thick walls kept out the sounds of the street. The ushers were members of the bride’s family. There were several bridesmaids and several flower girls and two boys who served as ring bearers. And the priest, Father Pete Colapietro marrying them was jolly and tender in imparting his wisdom to the couple.

The bridesmaids wore navy blue silk dresses with white sashes, the flower girls wore pink with flower tiaras, and the two little boys wore blue blazers, grey flannel shorts and grey knee socks.

It still makes me laugh to think of them walking down the aisle with all the sweet innocence and adorability of their age. You could see that it was an especially exciting a day for them. They totally shared the excitement of the bride and groom. They were the beacons.
The 583 Park Avenue reception and dinner dance, as guests find their seating.
The tables awaiting ...
After the wedding Mass, the newlyweds departed the church in a black stretch limousine. The entire wedding party departed in a large black limousine-like bus, and I thankfully went up to Corrado on 70th and Lex, got a Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese on black bread sandwich, a Cappuccino, and went back to my apartment to celebrate what remained of my free time on Saturday afternoon.

At 7 there was a reception and dinner dance at 583 Park. This was just a great party. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the rooms in the lower floor, and then upstairs to dinner in the main room.

Bronson Van Wyck and his Merry Band of Mother and Sister were the designers and planners. The Van Wycks hail from Arkansas but they are one of those American families who seem to have social connections all over the country and the world. Their signature seems to be something grand and spectacular yet with beauty and the appropriate restraint. It never seems de trop, although God knows what the final tally is. Bronson told me that they’ve been contracted to do the Super Bowl. I’m not sure what that means, but I know it’s good.
The bride and groom have the first dance ...
The Flower Girls take it all in.
That little girl in the middle was a hoot. What a pistol. Four years old. She was something ...
There were a lot of old friends and family members on both the bride’s and the groom’s side. Bob Hardwick and his orchestra provided the music. Once people were seated, and the bride and groom danced, and the toasts were made, and the dinner served, Everyone was up and dancing.

The evening was a good mixture of ages of about three and a half generations, and so there was that unifying experience of “family” that filled the room. After the main course was served and completed, and the bride’s bouquet was tossed (and caught by her bridesmaid), the evening turned into a dance party with everyone on the dance floor including the flower girls and the ring bearers.

A very special night, celebrated by all present for Allegra and Josh Thomas embarking on their life adventure. It flew by. I was amazed that it was 11 when I looked at my watch. The pictures tell the story.
Mr. Ittleson and Anne Ford dance with the flower girls. Charlotte Ford with her grandson Buddy and granddaughter Charlotte.
The bride, her mother, Tony Ittleson and aunt Charlotte.
Kimm Uzielli with Charlotte and daughter.
Michael Smith is in awe also.
The dance floor begins; the party begins ...
Parents of the flower girl, Alex and Ashley von Perfall. Mr. and Mrs. Van Wyck.
Sister and brother Van Wyck.
The party's over; happy days!
Last Tuesday night at the Cafe Carlyle. Film, stage and TV actress Emily Bergl made her debut with her one-woman show "NY I Love You." With a natural stage presence that reminds of Carol Burnett, Midler, and Madonna, and a girl from the Midwest, Bergl is a comfortable contemporary interpreter of Rodgers and Hart, Gus Kahn, Irving Berlin as well as Lou Reed, the Beach Boys and Cyndi Lauper. Tuesday through Thursday at 8:45; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:45 and 10:45. For more info visit:
On Saturday night at the Hotel Americano, Natalie Massenet, Amanda Sharp, Matthew Slotover, Sarah Burton, Christopher Kane, Jason Wu, Jenna Lyons, Mary Katranzou, Olivier Theyskens, Roland Mouret, Giovanna Battaglia, Nicholas Kirkwood, Arianna Huffington, Cecilia Dean, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones, Valeria Napoleone, Lucy Chadwick, Mila Askarova, Josephine Meckseper, Matthew Brannon, Nick Relph, Tim Rollins, Tomas Saraceno, and more, joined NET-A-PORTER.COM for a cocktail and seated dinner to celebrate Frieze New York's Chelsea Gallery Night, where more than 20 of Chelsea's finest galleries opened their doors for a neighborhood block party filled with exclusive gallery previews, live music and food.
Cocktail hour.
Arianna Huffington, Natalie Massenet, and Stefano Tonchi. Jenna Lyons.
Jason Wu. Olivier Theyskens.
A couple weeks before the infamous Hat Luncheon The Women's Committee of the Central Park Conservancy celebrated 20 years of the Tree Trust Committee with a breakfast in the Park. It was a chilly morning as a number of people who had endowed trees over the past two decades assembled for a photo.

Betty Sherrill and family.
Behind them were the magnificent American Elms that line the Mall, one of the largest and last remaining stands in the country. People exchanged stories about their gifts to the Park, a tree to commemorate a high school graduation, a newborn baby or an anniversary.

The Tree Trust raises funds for the care of the Park's 21,500 trees, and was founded by Jean Clark and Betty Sherrill. Liz Peek and Kimberly Thurston, current Co-Chairman of the Tree Trust Committee, recognized the two founders' dedication to Central Park Conservancy and the Tree Trust.

Mrs. Sherrill celebrated her birthday the day of the gathering, and received not only accolades for her many efforts on the behalf of the Park, but also a gift of daffodils, her favorite flower, to be planted in the Park.

Doug Blonsky, President & CEO of Central Park Conservancy and Central Park Administrator, told the crowd that Mrs. Sherrill was responsible for the banks of beautiful yellow flowers on view now throughout the park. "Every time I see Betty, she says, 'Doug, plant more daffodils."

For more information on endowing a tree in Central Park, click here.
Tree Trust Committee, past and present.
Liz Peek, Doug Blonsky, and Kimberly Thurston congratulate Betty Sherrill.
Liz Peek, Eleanora Kennedy, and Michael Kennedy. Liz Peek, Kimberly Thurston, and Doug Blonsky.
Noreen Buckfire, Junia Doan, and Alexandra Drucker. Susan Calhoun.
Kimberly Thurston and Anne Harrison.
Cathy Ingram. Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki and Mamiko Hiroki.
CPC Tree Climbers.
More catching up. On a Wednesday last month in our nation’s capital, the British Embassy was the setting for a festive celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. 

Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott and Lady Westmacott hosted a gathering of 120 guests that included William Hague the British Foreign Secretary, Dame Jillian Sackler, widow of Arthur Sackler, and guests from Washington and New York, who came for one of the first events hosted by the new Ambassador from the UK. The theme of the evening was the enduring cultural ties between the Smithsonian and the UK and the contributions of the Sackler Gallery to Asian art over the last quarter century.
 The Ambassador's residence is getting an art makeover.
James Kimsey and Patricia Dizebba, Beth and Ronald Dozoretz, Diane Morris, Count and Countess Renaud de Viel Castel,  Samia and Huda Farouki, Nancy and Hart Fessenden, Marlene and Frederic Malek, John and JoAnn Mason, Ann and William Nitze, Mary Mochary, and Milton  Gilan Corn, Shelley and Bruce Ross-Larson, Cathy Brentzel, Ludmilla and Conrad Cafritz, Tony Podesta, celebrated with Their Serene Highnesses Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie and Princess Saba Kebede,  Ann Stock, Gail Berry and Togo West and Sackler Board members Susan Pillsbury and her husband Michael, Jeffrey Cunard, and Jim Lintott. 
Sackler Gallery Director Julian Raby, Jill Sackler, Susie Westmacott, and British Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott.
William Nitze and Co-Chair Diane Morris.
Countess Anais de Viel Castel and Count Renaud de Viel Castel.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague. Assistant Secretary of State for Eductional and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock.
British Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott and Sackler Gallery Director Julian Raby.
Susan Pillsbury, Cathy Brntzel, David Yao, and Penny Yao.
Also last month down in Palm Beach, Marianne and John Castle held a reception with one hundred guests at their oceanside villa for His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

The Castles’ residence has a history of visits from Cardinals. When it was President John F. Kennedy’s Winter White House in the early 1960s, Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston was often a guest of the family.

Among those attending the Castles’ evening for Cardinal Dolan, were Ethel Kennedy, Helen Lowe, Regina King, Mary Cashing, Doris Hafting, Muffy Brooks, JoAnne and Duch Wagner, Julie and Rob Reveley, Chris Topher, Diana and Lowry Bell, and Grace and Chris Meigher.
Marianne and John Castle with Ethel Kennedy.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan with Marianne Castle.
Cardinal Dolan with Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Ohrstrom.
With Mary Cashin.
With Muffy Brooks.
With Mark and Mary Freitas.
With Chris Topher and Helen Lowe.
With Dutch and Joanne Wagner.
With Julie and Rob Reveley.
With John Desiderio and Iris Cantor.
With Estela and Rafael Fanjul.
With Masako and Dr. Terrence O'Brien.
With Chris and Grace Meigher.

Photographs by; & Sara Cedar Miller (Tree Trust); James Brantley (Sackler); Lucien Capehart Photography (Cardinal Dolan)

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