Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday Observations

The observatory of the Empire State Building. 5:45 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013. It was another beautiful Autumn day in New York. I didn’t take any pictures of it because I was distracted by deadlines and keeping my focus.
The ghoulish pre-Halloween scene on 72nd between Fifth and Madison.
There were two big charity luncheons. The Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy had their annual Fall Luncheon at the Mandarin Oriental. The Guest Speaker this year was Isaac Mizrahi.

I don’t know Mr. Mizrahi. I have never really heard him speak (except emceeing something). He strikes me as a person who is naturally funny. So they must have had laughs, at least. However, I missed this year’s lunch so I cannot report on it. I have a feeling I am right however, and that everyone had a good time; and that he also left them all with something to think about. My instinct tells me he is that kind of person. I may be completely off-base but I like the thought anyway.
Anne Harrison, Suzie Aijala, Isaac Mizrahi, Joanna Coles, Sharon Jacob, and Paige Hardy. Photo: BFAnyc.com.
I went over to the Plaza where the American Cancer Society, New York Chapter was holding its annual Mother of the Year luncheon in the Grand Ballroom. I’ve been going to this luncheon for several years, thanks to my friend Diana Feldman.

It’s mainly a woman’s luncheon as you might guess, although “Mothers” does bring out some men – namely sons, fathers and husbands. And man friends. Last year it brought out Robert De Niro and that was interesting because as you could guess, he’s not into ladies’ lunches, although he was a good sport, and he has a wonderful wife, Grace.
Muffie Potter Aston, Diana Feldman, Anne Hearst McInerney, Paula Zahn, and Dr. Elisa Port.
Five years ago they honored Cynthia Lufkin, who died this year after a long and brave battle against cancer. I’m not going into the story anymore except to say that it was a matter of great and lasting regret for a lot of people, and most specifically her children, including a four-year-old and a six-year-old, and her husband Dan Lufkin.
Cynthia, as Mrs. Lufkin, was a major part of the philanthropic community in New York, and had befriended many of its sponsors and supporters. She thrived in the role, and grew from it. Those of us who had known her for a couple of decades saw this transformation that blossomed in her marriage to Dan. She was still a young woman in flight when she was taken. This hit home from many angles.

Muffie Potter Aston, who was a friend of Cynthia’s, spoke about her at the luncheon. Then Paula Zahn took over as emcee. Paula is an extremely agreeable emcee for anything (within reason). She’s glamorous, slender, leggy, blonde, easy to smile and sharp-smart. She handles the subject of the ACS deftly, sensitively, informatively, and moves on as if the breeze had done it for her. It is exactly the right note.
Muffie Potter Aston speaking about her late friend, Cynthia Lufkin.
Muffie Potter Aston and Dan Lufkin.
I got there after the luncheon speakers had begun. Deadlines, as I said. They honored Dr. Elisa Port and Anne Hearst McInerney.

Dr. Port is a renowned  breast surgeon on the staff of Mt. Sinai as Chief of Breast Surgery. She’s married to a doctor also – Dr. Jeffrey Port, a renowned thorasic surgeon at New York Presbyterian.

The Ports have a son Zachary who is 15 and a daughter Lauren who is 12. The children introduced their mother, starting with Zachary. Zachary already has the developing wit of a sharp-eyed, teen-age, young man. He addressed his mother and her motherhood with affection and acknowledgement of the mother’s relationship to her children’s problems of growing up in the world. He was very funny, and dear, and I could only think there’s a lot of humor in the family household. The daughter Lauren spoke of her mother in a similar tone but with a different slant – mothers and daughters. It was very sweet. Both children expressed their admiration and respect for their mother in her profession.
Lauren Port, Dr. Elisa Port, Jeffrey Port, and Zachary Port.
Then Dr. Port got up and referred to her mother who had come in from California for the luncheon. Looking at the family as they were being photographed by Patrick McMullan, Ann Watt and Cutty McGill, I tried to imagine how the two adults, the two DRs managed to keep track of all their responsibilities both professionally and personally and yet still enjoy their lives. I had a feeling from the looks of them that although I’ll never know, they do.

Anne Hearst McInerney was the other Mother of the Year 2013. Coincidentally, Anne is also a California born-and-bred girl although she made a life for herself here a long time ago.
Jay McInerney, Anne Hearst McInerney, and Amanda Hearst.
She is the mother of the beautiful Amanda Hearst who is an editor with her own column in Town & Country, and Randy Harris who is a college student.

I don’t know Anne’s son but I have known Amanda for quite some time. She’s an especially lovely young woman both to see and in her manner of relating. It has always occurred to me that she had a good mother, for she has her mother’s ease in relating to others.

She was asked if she wanted to speak, and she begged off. The thought of public speaking made her nervous. I feel the same way. However, she took an ad page in the luncheon’s journal with the message: “I love my mother more than words can describe. She is the kindest, most generous person and I can’t think of any mother who deserves this honor more. Congrats Mom!”

I believe her.
Dr. Elisa Port, Brooke Shields, Paula Zahn, and Muffie Potter Aston.
Sharon Bush, Anne Hearst McInerney, Kimberly Rockefeller, Alison Mazzola, and Yasmin Aga Khan.
Anne has been a member of the philanthropic community here in New York for a long time also. She’s been a committee member, chair, co-chair, fundraiser for many organizations including her friend Yasmin Khan’s “Rita Hayworth Alzheimer’s” annual fundraiser. She’s a director of the Princess Grace Foundation that gives scholarships to young and upcoming artists; and in the past few years she’s served on the Board of Directors of the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation, a charity that supports the restoration and upkeep of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Now a National Landmark, the castle which was built by Anne’s grandfather, the legendary William Randolph Hearst, is a State Park and one of the most visited, if not the most visited state park in all of California.

Anne was introduced by her husband, best-selling-novelist and renowned oenophile Jay McInerney, who quietly and briefly told the audience that Anne’s honor had a special meaning for him because his own mother, about whom he has written with great affection, died when she was only 49, “... of cancer.” Nothing more needed to be said.

His wife, in accepting her honor, was characteristically brief and gracious in that kind of sunny, down home California manner that speaks modesty and portrays Anne.
Sandra Warshawsky, Cornelia Bregman, and Cece Cord.
Dan Lufkin, Diana Feldman, and Kris Kim.
Diana and Richard Feldman.
Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley.
Eleni Henkel and Jeremiah Hernandez.
Anne Hearst McInerney, Jay McInerney, Brooke Shields, Kimberly Rockefeller, and Muffie Potter Aston.
Last night at the Four Seasons restaurant, Hilary and Wilbur Ross gave a book signing party for their friend and interior decorator Mario Buatta and his new book “Mario Buatta, Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration,” written with Emily Evans Eerdmans, with Foreward by Paige Rense (Rizzoli Publishers).

As I expected, Wilbur and Hilary and Mario drew a big crowd. First of all Mario is a longtime local and social celebrity in New York. He has a lot of friends. A lot of friends.
I think I’ve written here before that he is going to have a total of forty-one book signing parties across America. This is important in understanding the man. He has friends everywhere because he’s traveled he country lecturing on Interior Decorating. If you ever have the chance to see him speak, go. No matter if you aren’t interested in interior decorating. Mario is very funny, even silly funny, and witty funny, and you’ll find you’re interested in what he’s doing it because underneath it all he’s a shrewd businessman and very very successful because of it.
The scene last night at the Four Seasons restaurant where people were beginning to line up to get their Mario Buatta book. That's Mario, closest to the wall in the middle. Eventually the line went on and on. In the foreground is Sharon Hoge (glasses) and the blonde behind her is Sharon Bush; to her left Margo Langenberg. That's Sydney Shuman in black talking to Simon Pinniger and Carolyne Roehm (in leopard print).
Evidently he’s impossible to work with as a staff member but that’s partly because Mario’s a single. If he were in Show Business (and he’s always been about thisfar from it), he’d be a single act.

You look at the book and you can see it’s amazing what he’s accomplished in sheer volume over the years. And the consistency of the quality of his work. Last night Wilbur Ross told us that he’s hired Mario to decorate his houses and apartments for years. Together the two men could do a double standup.
Wilbur Ross and Hilary Geary Ross present Mario with a birthday cake.
Wilbur Ross, Mario Buatta (losing his hair again??!!), and Hilary Geary Ross.
Anyway, it was a great get-together for a lot of people who rarely see each other in a group anymore and Mario was the perfect center. People who are New Yorkers but are here, in Aspen, in Europe, in Palm Beach or South America and are within two or three degrees of separation, enjoying their friend’s achievement (and getting a signed copy of Mario’s current oeuvre.)

There was also a birthday cake. Sunday was Mario’s birthday. He was 78. He looked shocked when he told me about it. He doesn’t seem any different or look any different, and I’ve been looking at him for the past twenty years. Maybe a bit courtly in his manner, slightly European in his bow, this boy who came to Oz-(ish) all the way from Staten Island, and took the town. This is New York.
Mario signing his book for his friend Mary Jane ...
Mario with his "third hand." (You had to be there.)
Mario and Sharon Loeb. Mario goes back to back with Peter Marino.
Mario signing for Sharon Bush.
Mario with Aileen Mehle. Mario with Pat Altschul.
Joe Pugliese with Charlie Scheips and Joy Ingham. They're making fun of the photographer, I can tell ... Joy musta made some crack and they all thought: what a riot!
Lauren Peltz and Sydney Shuman. Shirley Lord Rosenthal.
Julie Baumgold and Ed Kosner. Alison Stern and Anne Hearst McInerney.
Judy Taubman, Carolyne Roehm, and Hilary Geary Ross. Kirat Young is in town for a couple of weeks and is having a show of her jewelry today and tomorrow at Oscar de la Renta on Madison Avenue and 66th Street, from 10 to 6.
George Farias and Alex Papachristidis. Mariana Kaufman and Candy Hamm.
Alfred Taubman and Joy Ingham. Yaz Hernandez, Kathleen Hearst, and Audrey Gruss waiting for Mario to sign ...
Anne Hearst McInerney. and Jay McInerney. Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner.
Mai Harrison, Peter Marino, and Amy Fine Collins.
Valentin and Yaz Hernandez. Mai Harrison and Cornelia Bregman. Click to order!
The real hand of Mario, exhausted at last.

Photographs by DPC/NYSD & Rob Rich (Buatta); Annie Watt (ACS)

Contact DPC here.