Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Yesterday’s calendar

Looking east southeast from the Time Warner Center. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012. Sunny days, partly cloudy.
Yesterday’s calendar looked like this:

At ten, the Frick Collection hosted a Media Preview of a new exhibition titled “Antico: the Golden Age of Renaissance.” Didn’t make it.

At noon, Fountain House hosted a symposium and luncheon at the Pierre in the Grand Ballroom (they need that much space for their luncheon events). The subject: “The Changing Mind: Youth and Neuroplasticity.” They honored Dr. Mark Vonnegut. I was introduced to this organization by Lorna Graev.

Since that time several years ago, it has been very effective in bringing light to a grey and foggy subject.

At six o’clock at the Fifth Avenue apartment of interior designer Darren Henault, Muffie Potter Aston, Somers Farkas and Ellen Niven hosted a cocktail reception in celebration of Lighthouse’s 2012 POSH Sale, coming up soon. I’ll get to the sale. Incredible bargains on top of the line merchandise. I go straight to the neckties, a quarter the price.

Didn’t go there either. Went to lunch to see an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in months. Bella Blu, a restaurant on Lexington between 70th and 71st.

Same time over at the Broadway Theater, there was a reception in celebration of “Mr. Broadway,” the memoir of the late Gerald Schoenfeld, hosted by the Shubert Organization. See yesterday’s Diary. The book, although about a life in the theatre, is a book about New York life. Mr. Schoenfeld was the perfect New Yorker, a hard working man with a passion for his business, and a most fascinating business it was and is. He takes you through it on a pleasure trip.

Then last night. At seven, depending on where you were going and where you were: The New York POPS hosted its 29th Birthday Gala, Honoring Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty with a concert at Carnegie Hall. And then a dinner dance at the Plaza.
Carnegie Hall ovation.
Same time, ‘nother station: starting with cocktails, the French Heritage Society and Fondation Royaumont hosted a Benefit Concert with performance by Natalie Dessay and Philippe Cassard. Followed by a buffet dinner at 132 East 71st Street. Didn’t make it.

More. Over on Columbus Circle at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club was hosting its annual “President’s Dinner” celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2012, and honoring Jeremiah Goodman an the 1973 Show House Designers. Gala co-chairs were Jamie Drake, Victoria Hagan, Aerin Lauder and Richard Mishaan. The Show House Chair is the ubiquitous messenger of joy and taste, Bunny Williams.
Jamie Drake, James Druckman, Daniel Quintero, Aerin Lauder, and Richard Mishaan at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club's annual “President’s Dinner.”
Kips Bay means two things to New Yorkers. The Boys & Girls Club. And the Show House. This is one of the most important events in the interior design business. Or rather, industry. Its foundation is aesthetic and the decorative arts. However, besides the creative factor, there’s another one, it is a business of fame and fortune, the big casino, and it draws the greatest talent in the world. So when all of that gets behind a simple “Show House,” it’s like The Auto Show. It’s important. It’s commerce. It’s Noo Yawk ne plus ultra.

I didn’t make it.

Also in there, downtown at Capitale BOMB, the magazine held its annual gala and silent auction. The honorees were Klaus Biesenbach, Marsha Norman, Richard Serra. A museum director and curator, a playwright and novelist, and a sculptor. The magazine is called BOMB. It has been around for a long time now and if you don’t know it, you’re out of it. I mean, if you think you’re interested in art and the arts ...

Isn’t that enough for one night?
Klaus Biesenbach, Patti Smith, James Franco at BOMB's annual gala and silent auction.
I was up at the Waldorf. The Annual Breast Cancer Research Foundation dinner/Hot Pink Party, this year called “The Hot Pink Party Celebrates My Fair Evelyn’s Dream.” This was the first year that the BCRF’s founder was not present. Evelyn Lauder departed this world last November. She remains in memory, however, a vital force in our community. What she did in the area of breast cancer research was phenomenal, but what she did for her friends and neighbors and fellow humans, on a daily basis, was the bigger message.

I think about this when I think about Evelyn, because she wore her privilege and positioning in a way that sets a good example. We don’t have that much of “good examples” in our contemporary world. Sorry, but we don’t. The sleeve is often hampered by The Self. As is the face. It’s okay, but it doesn’t grab you in the gut or the heart. Evelyn’s stuff did.
Guests last night entering the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria.
Borrowing from the theme of My Fair Lady, last night was My Fair Evelyn's Dream ...
The grand ballroom with guests finding their tables.
She came into this world I’m speaking of  as The Daughter-in-Law. And the Mother-in-Law was a great force – Estee Lauder. She was a self-made tycoon, a force that extends beyond her own mortality. She was Somethin’, as they say; and yes she was. She was also imbued with a certainty and self-confidence that most of us only read about or hear about. People enjoyed Estee’s company too, I should add. And she them. Being the tycoon she was she had an especial fondness for high and mighty in society. And they were charmed.

Evelyn was brought into the family business as a young wife with the encouragement of the Mother-in-Law. A good sign but a helluva test for any girl. Whatever she learned from that experience was written all over her approach to Breast Cancer. Her legacy is not only the astounding progress of the BCRF but even more, all the women and families and sons and daughters who were touched by her personal interest and generosity.
The table setting. The starter was Carpaccio of Smoked Salmon;Quenelles of Caviar and Creme Fraiche, Brioche Toast Points an Pickled Cucumber Salad.
Up close.
Finding their tables ...
She lived her whole life in this special community of New York – a world of commerce, society, philanthropy and culture. It was all an education. She had her detractors out there in the wilds. She was the object of envy for some. I mention this only because it is important to see her not as a kind of myth, but a real person.  

She also had a husband, Leonard Lauder, who himself carries out a number of community and philanthropic responsibilities. In their mature years, both husband and wife were actively supporting each other’s charitable interests. Mr. Lauder is now “Acting President of” the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Inc.

Evelyn evidently was blessed with a kind of optimism that some attribute to the spiritual, or a religion. That may be, but to me, it was just her natural state. She probably started out life with that. She was a loved child and it shone on her attitude toward others. I think the charity probably had the most profound effect on her, because she got to see what community and leadership could be, and what a (good) difference it could make in people’s lives.
Fashion. Anne Keating.
Dr. Leon and Paula Root with Danny and Cynthia Lufkin.
David DuPlantis, Sarch Dunn, Jennifer Raab (red), and Mr. Raab, aka Michael Goodwin.
Former Ambassador Brenda Johnson wearing her Presidential choice on her collar. Jackie Duberstein and Hilary Geary Ross.
Patricia Shiah, Marjorie Reed Gordon, and and Bonnie Strauss.
Maurice Sonnenberg and Barbara Goldsmith. Gail Hilson, Coco Kopelman, and Heather Leeds.
Mariana Kaufman talking to Heather Leeds.
She was a natural for getting good things done. Common sense supplied the need. She was only 75 when she died. If she had lived another ten years she would have done even greater things because the force was really already behind her: she was motivated. Period.

Last night’s dinner was a lovely tribute to the woman. I know I’m going on about this but that’s because she set a good example on several levels. This is important information for all of us.

There were 1300 guests, They raised $5.6 million. Jamie Niven of Sotheby’s worked his auctioneer’s magic and raised another couple hundred thousand. Ambassador Brenda Johnson won the raffle which is a four-day stay at the Mission Vineyards Estate in California. Brenda told me when I took her picture who the next President would be.
Leonard Lauder, opening the evening with two of his and Evelyn's granddaughters at his side.
Evelyn at a booksigning. The proceeds went to the BCRF.
Elizabeth Hurley remembering her friend Evelyn Lauder.
Roz Goldstein presenting the Unsung Hero Award to Margaret Stewart.
Margaret Stewart remembering her friend (and boss in the office) having received the Unsung Hero Award.
Leonard Lauder explains that all of those young women are holding a scarf made from one of Evelyn's photographs of pink tulips in bloom. A scarf was then distributed to every one of the 1300 guests.
Brian Williams recalls Evelyn and his own sister's battle with breast cancer. She was in the audience last night.
Myra Biblowit, President of BCRF, recalling her friend and guide.
Dr. Larry Norton of Memorial Sloan Kettering worked closely with Evelyn in developing a program for selecting and distributing research grants across the world.
The Lauder chalet in Aspen where a week's stay was auctioned off by Jamie Niven.
Enough room for five couples on holiday.
The living room of the chalet.
The first BCRF dinner they had about 20 years ago, took in $165,000. So far since then, they’ve raised more than $350 million for breast cancer research. Evelyn did that, with a lot of help, all acknowledged from a dedicated staff starting with the BCRF president Myra Biblowit. Elizabeth Hurley, who has long been a spokesperson for BCRF was there. The Roz and Les Goldstein Unsung Hero Award was presented to Margaret Stewart who was Evelyn’s personal executive assistant, a-d-c and everything else. Leonard Lauder described the two women as being “joined at the hip.”  Sir Elton John entertained at the piano, as he’s done year after year for BCRF. Sir Elton is so at home at the keyboard that you feel like he’s doing it all for you, as a gift. And it is. He recalled Evelyn in much the same way I have on these pages, and he knew her well.

I never knew Evelyn Lauder really well, although we saw each other frequently. She was friendly and warm when we met up. She was one to stop and say hello. She appreciated how and what I wrote about her work, and she acknowledged it courteously. This kind of thing is impressive anytime, for we are often not attentive to acknowledgement of others. It serves many purposes, all of them valuable. Evelyn knew that instinctively and practiced it.
Sir Elton John performing, as he has done every year for Evelyn Lauder and her Breast Cancer Research Foundation Gala. This year was a tribute to his friend.
She was a very important New Yorker, in these times, in the scheme of things. She had the great Lauder fortune behind her, that Mother-in-Law tycoon present for a long time in her marriage, and she used her experience to help her fellows. This is the most empowering experience for anyone, fortune or no mother-in-law. It may be more accessible to those with the funds behind them, but Evelyn came at it from both the money and the individual. This is what I knew about her. It was quite a legacy. A great one.

It was a great night, and Evelyn would have been very pleased at what she had wrought. A good thing. She was Somethin’. XXX

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