Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ides of March are upon us

Late afternoon picnicing. 5:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, March 15, 2012. The Ides of March are upon us. What does that mean? Ask Will Shakespeare, don’t ask me. Yesterday was like a perfect Summer day in New York. Warm but not too, but warm enough. With a splendidly bright blue cloudless sky.

It was Wednesday so it was Michael’s. I was there with Felicia Taylor of CNN. Felicia is one of the nicest, most straightforward women in New York. I know, that sounds a little bit much. But I thought about it after I wrote that. It’s true. We’ve known each other for quite some time but hardly. Occasionally when we meet we have a lot to say about our lives.

Rod Taylor.
You may remember her from the weekend Today Shows on NBC. She has that talent (and I think it is a talent), to be “herself” on camera. What you see is what you get. Although she laughs a lot too. That you don’t see. Did you know she is the daughter and only child of actor Rod Taylor?

I think she knows him but it’s not much more than that. He was the first of her mother’s three husbands. Her mother just died a few years ago (maybe three). Married, and living in Palm Beach, she and Felicia talked on the phone often, always having a good time.

One morning, after Mother-Daughter lovefest where both were having such a good time talking to each other, they confided how much they loved each other. I’m probably getting this story not completely accurate, but it was something like that.

It was morningtime and Felicia’s mother had been sitting up in bed, next to her husband, while talking to her daughter in New York. When the conversation was over and they said their good-byes, Mother leaned over and wrote a note on a piece of paper about how much she adored her daughter. Then when she returned to her sitting position against the pillow and the headboard, she suddenly felt like she was choking. She said something about it to her husband who was right next to her. But then she suddenly slumped. She had died. It was that quick. She was 74.

That was a very difficult loss, as you might imagine, for the daughter. She was an only child and her mother was really her only parent. The two women understood each other. The next three years were trying for Felicia because of it. She grieved, although probably spoke little, or never spoke about it to others. Felicia keeps marching, no matter.
DPC and Felicia Taylor at Michael's.
During that time she threw herself into her work. She just wanted to keep busy, taking any assignment she was given, including the financial ones that have been her specialty for years now. Always interested in how to relate her information to the female audience, she came up with an idea for a show about women and their progress in their careers and their lives.

It’s called “Leading Women.” As in Leaders. Each month they profile two outstanding women – one in a creative or artistic field, and one in a more business corporate world. The objective is a series meant to empower and inspire women to “go for it.” It’s a global series so the audience is all over the planet. Omega Watch is the sponsor who bought the idea when Felicia happened to tell the head of Omega about it at a dinner party one night in London where she was on assignment.

Felicia's parents, Rod Taylor and Mary Hilem, 1960.
There are three co-anchors reflecting the international presence: Felicia in New York, Kirstie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, and Becky Anderson in London. It is broadcast on CNN International with a potential audience in the low 100s of millions. Felicia’s very excited about the opportunity to reach a larger audience of women because she thinks the time has come for women and power.

Meanwhile, around the room at Michael’s on its Wednesday. In the corner was none other than Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, the most successful musical theatre composer of the post-modern age (and the pre- too). “Phantom” is still running on Broadway. It’s been playing continuously since it opened in 1986. “Cats” ran for decades also. Of his 18 shows, there have been “Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Sunset Boulevard.” Sir Andrew will be celebrating his 64th birthday next Thursday.

The roll call. Esther Newberg, the mega-literary agent was lunching with Pete Hamill, the mega-Noo Yawker. Ed Rollins, the political strategist, was across the way with TV producer Steve Cohen. At Table One Jeff Langberg was celebrating the birthday of his wife Kelly, with a group of her friends. Ms. Langberg calls herself “The Make Over Queen.” Advice, girls. Who, where, etc.

Right next door was Star Jones who is celebrating a birthday a week from tomorrow. There’s a big party for her somewhere. Meanwhile around the room. Miz Liz Smith looking bright and snappy in a bright yellow jacket and some round tortoise-shell glasses, was with Armstrong, Mayor Joe, and a gent from the University of Texas, the alma mater of the aforementioned. Next to Lloyd Webber’s table: Steve Swid; the Boyz from Wednesday, Dr. Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman and Michael Kramer; Fern Mallis; Ambassador Carl Spielvogel with his neighbor Donald Newhouse; Sara Nelson and Jolie Hunt who is getting married in Iceland; Steven Stolman with Jack Bochonok; the WSJ’s David Sanford and Lewis Stein; Maury Rogoff; Peter Price, Judy Price; Betsy Perry with her cousin editor/writer Will Schwalbe who has just published a kind of memoir “The End of Your Life Book Club” about his mother’s life; Charles Koppelman; Steve Greenberg; Chuck Pfeifer; Waheed Alli;  Gerry Byrne with Si Anthony; PR guru Lisa Linden with Tom Allon of Avenue magazine; and the Brenda Starr of it all, Diane Clehane.
Last night at Cynthia and Donald Frank's: Guest of honor Lorenzo Castillo, What is James Wearing, and Scott McBee.
Last night Cynthia and Donald Frank hosted a drinks party for textile designer Sabine de Gunzburg and interior designer Lorenzo Castillo. Sabine lives in Paris and Lorenzo lives in Madrid although he has a lot of American clients and spends time here. Cynthia, who works as a Contributing Editor for Elle Décor, produced the piece on Castillo’s Madrid apartment. “Twelve pages!” the designer enthused, amazed, in telling me about it. I don’t know if Ms. De Gunzburg is in the April of Elle Décor also, but Cynthia Frank told me she loved her designs.

The party itself was a classic New York cocktail party. There were images in my head of a John Koch painting of such a thing. The Franks have a roomy apartment in one of the city’s oldest and “best” co-ops, a Rosario Candela building with a provenance of tenants over the last 80 years, including Kitty and Moss Hart, and Minnie Cushing Astor and James Fosburgh.
Jessica Olshon, Sabine de Gunzberg, Michael Boodro, and Cynthia Frank. Scott Currie and Alina Cho.
Cynthia’s eye created a very pleasing and elegant backdrop for such a get together. Because the design industry and the publishing industry are so important in New York, our hosts called on a broad list, although it was mainly designers, and designers, and some writers and some very good clients. It was also an especially well lighted party – bright in some rooms and lower in others, gracing everyone.

With waiters keeping the silver trays moving with the white wine, water or champagne, and pigs-in-a-blanket with mustard, people seemed to move (or be still), yet in a very attentive way. It was one of those times when everyone was at his or her best. The room called for it. And so did the connections that flourish in New York under these circumstances.

Then there was Sam, the golden. He’s nine and he stuck it out, casually avoiding getting his big paws stepped on. I petted him for a few minutes and he was happy to get a little of the room’s energy for himself.
Margo Langenberg.
An abandoned glass of champagne. Guy Robinson and Elizabeth Stribling. Libba, as she is known to her a friends, is going to be awarded a Legion d'Honneur.
Cynthia Frank, Elle Decor E-I-C Michael Boodro, and Joan Carl. Jim Aman (right).
Claiborne Swanson Frank and Mark Gilbertson. Jim Tracy and Candia Fisher.
Christian Leone and friends.
On my way up Madison Avenue after leaving the Franks' drinks party ...
Roger Vivier.
Derek Lam.
Oscar de la Renta.
Herve Leger. Chloe.
Ralph Lauren. Milly.
The Whitney Museum of American Art at 8:30 p.m.
Don’t Forget. Tonight at Archivia, A booksigning for American couturier Ralph Rucci: “Autobiography of a Fashion Designer” (Bauer and Dean), from 6 to 8 p.m. I love the Archivia booksignings because it draws a good cross section of the Upper East Side neighborhood and especially those who share interests in the subjects, so there’s also and culture aspect to these gatherings which in good weather spill out onto the pavement (although I notice they never spill any of their white wine).

It’s a treasure of a book. By which I mean it’s beautiful and interesting, and will be a collector’s item (after the printing is over), because of the brilliance of the content and its quality, as well as the quality of the book itself. A keeper. From 6 to 8.

Photographs by DPC.

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