Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Real Feel

Waiting for the bus on 79th and Fifth. 1:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013. Cold in New York with the “Real Feel” in the mid-teens and the weatherman forecasting all kinds of wintry weather in the days ahead. Although it still looks like it’ll miss New York.
Yesterday morning, walking the dogs through Carl Schurz Park, I heard a drill going on. I was told it was recruits of the NYFD conducting physical exercises. It was very cold out but under the sun and those aerobics, everyone was no doubt in fine fettle. It was a great way to start the day even for the people in the park. Energizing.
And across the East River, under the bright Sun, the Con Ed smoke stacks were working to warm up the morning for New Yorkers.
The social calendar has quieted down for the upcoming holiday. Or sort of. Yesterday was the annual Tiffany Holiday Luncheon. The luncheon is given to editors from newspapers, magazines and web, a kind of thank you. They’ve been doing this since 1987.

It is a very nice kind of thank you in the Tiffany style, in the executive dining room for about 50 guests. Michael J. Kowalski gives a brief speech just before lunch outlining Tiffany’s year just passing. Mr. Kowalski has been CEO of Tiffany for the past fourteen years (with the company for thirty). He’s a quiet-spoken man, focused and conscientious, the kind of person you’d like to have running your business.

Every year I’ve attended this lunch, he has reported on the progress of the company in terms of its worldwide expansion, its sales and earnings growth, and its steady eye upon Tiffany’s reputation and product quality.

In the course of his report, he explains also that the “business” part is required in terms of a proper “business” event. Nevertheless, it’s always interesting.

I don’t have many personal dealings with Tiffany. It’s mainly business, as they do advertise on the NYSD and I have covered certain public events of theirs for many years. Dealing with Tiffany’s public relations staff is the same as everything else about the company: first rate, first class, and a pleasure. They are efficient, thorough and always very pleasant. In a town where are a lot of us are always in a rush and have a backpack of impatience to call on, this is an almost Zen relief.

The store first opened its doors in 1837, the same year Queen Victoria came to the throne in England. In 1845 they started publishing their mail order catalog known as the “Blue Book” which still comes out today.

The few photographs I took tell the story. The menu was superb although rather hardily adequate for a New York business day lunch. From Sean Driscoll’s Glorious Food. Entirely delicious. I was seated next to Jill Newman from Robb Report and Stellene Volandes from Town & Country. There was a lot of conversation about the current JAR jewelry exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum. The exhibition opened with much fanfare and “exclusivity” (“no photos please”), which was extended to the media (from which all commercial blessings flow like it or not ...).
12:15 p.m. The executive dining room. The lunch was called for noon. People were just arriving (I was one of them). That's Nancy Novograd, the e-i-c of Travel + Leisure on lower far right.
Guests enter the dining area especially set up (gates/hedges) for the occasion.
Mr. JAR evidently thrives on turning people off with his behavior toward them and turning (very rich) people on with his jewelry designs which I’m told are one-of-a-kind. It's a kind of reverse marketing that often appeals to those who think they can have whatever they want whenever they want it just because they've got the bucks to buy it. Well, don't be so sure when you're dealing with JAR. Years ago Gucci did the same when they opened on Fifth Avenue (in the 1960s) in a sliver of a store where the customer was almost too intimidated to enter. It's a very effective marketing device especially if you've got the artisanship and the quality behind it. Mr. JAR ain't no Noo Yawker for nuthin', no matter where his establishment might sit. After the opening there was an exclusive dinner for about 300 at the Museum. Every woman there, I was told by one of the guests, was wearing a piece of JAR jewelry is which is so pricey that as JP Morgan said about his yacht: “if you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it.”

The Tiffany lunch table was set with its beautiful china and silver and crystal. The menu matched it and the dessert was also beyond. Martha Stewart, who was at the table, took a couple of bites to photograph the interior that you see in my pictures.  I asked Martha what she was doing for Thanksgiving: Having a a big group of friends and family for dinner at her house in Bedford. She is preparing it herself (with a lot of help no doubt). I’ve never been to one of her private dinners, but you can be sure that Martha thinks like Tiffany and it will be fabulous.
Looking out the window at the neighborhood (you can see the unlit snowflake on the left suspended over the intersection of 57th and Fifth. The Peter Marino-designed Louis Vuitton across the street, and Bergdorf Goodman across the way, and the upper floors of the Plaza hotel behind it and number 9 West to the left.
Among the guests were Vanessa Friedman, the great fashion journalist for the FT. Vanessa did an interview with JAR (Joel A. Rosenthal – a boy from the Bronx who operates out of Paris) in a recent Weekend Edition of the paper. And like all of Vanessa’s pieces, full of insight and a smile or three or four. JAR likes peanut butter sandwiches and was enjoying them through this particular interview.

Also among the guests: Michael Boodro editor-in-chief of Elle Décor; Robert Rufino (also Elle Décor), Deborah Needleman, editor of the New York Times’ Sunday “T” magazine; Margaret Russell of Architectural Digest; Stefano Tonchi of W; Roberta Myers of ELLE; Nancy Novograd of Travel & Leisure; Eva Chen of Lucky; Hal Rubenstein; Amanda Ross of Departures; Jim Reginato of Vanity Fair; also Amy Fine Collins of VF; including Frederic Cumenal, President of Tiffany, Francesca Amfitheatrof, Tiffany’s new Design Director.
Andrea Davey, VP Marketing, North America, and Caroline Naggiar, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer at Tiffany. Francesca Amfitheatrof, Tiffany Design Director, and Linda Buckley, who heads up publicity and public relations.
The table (named "Tiffany Setting") with fresh russet-colored roses.
The place setting.
I should have eaten the whole thing.
Walking up Madison Avenue in the high 50s after lunch. This is the first time I've seen the double bus lane on which ONLY buses are allowed to drive. In case you want to see a perfect example of why it's harder and harder to move around the streets of Manhattan. The official argument is: get a bike, walk or take the bus or subway. Although many if not all people riding around in cars in the Great International City of Commerce need faster transportation to move from A to B or M to Z morning noon or night. The result is everything costs more and takes more time as well as adding a healthy dollop of stress to an already stressed community. I am old enough to remember when Madison was a two-way avenue (as was Fifth). There were less cars back then -- although very often heavy traffic in the daylight hours. Now we have less car lanes and more car and truck traffic. You can always wait for the bus. Or jump in the lake, to put it politely.
Last night at the Four Seasons restaurant, Margaret Russell, the Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest, hosted a celebration of the magazine’s biennial AD100 list recognizing “the greatest talents in architecture and design including “establishment icons and enterprising trailblazers.”

It was a big crowd. I don’t know how many of the 100 were actually present although I’ll bet a goodly number. This is a promotion for the magazine and its list but it is also a very very good party for people who like to get out and see a lot of familiar and new faces, all (or mostly) beaming with energy and even good cheer (this is a New York weeknight in the busiest time of the year, after all).
Entering the Pool Room at the Four Seasons restaurant for Architectural Digest's AD100 celebration hosted by Editor-in-Chief Margaret Russell.
The columns, the metropolitan towers carrying the list of the AD100.
The crowd in the Pool Room.
I went to it specifically to get some pictures to show you and to promote the celebration, but it turned out to be fun to be at a large cocktail party and have a word or three with friends and acquaintances whom I rarely get a chance to talk with. I could see it was this way for many people in the room.

It’s Conde Nast putting its best foot forward. And the magazine, after all, ruled the shelter magazine business for the past almost four decades, brought to the light under the editorship of the legendary Paige Rense, who knew her customer and created an industry. Margaret Russell is now the leader and you could feel it last night in the big Pool Room of the restaurant.
Guilio Capua, Publisher of Architectural Digest greeting the guests and introducing ...
Margaret Russell, Editor in Chief of Architectural Digest, congratulating the new members of the AD100.
Urban Karlsson and Juan Montoya. Washington DC's star interior designer Darryl Carter with Lisa Jones and Charles Grazioli, CEO of Carter's firm.
Pilar Molyneux, Juan Pablo Molyneux, Alex Hitz, and Bettina Zilkha.
Wendy Sarasohn and John Yunis. Duane Hampton.
Peter Lyden and Susan Fales Hill. Randy Kemper and Bryan Brown.
The Dowager Duchess of the New York fashion. Claire Ratliff and Ellie Cullman.
Alison Levasseur of AD and Mario Buatta. Mario's new book is sold out and is now in its second printing. I don't know these women. I took this photo (from afar) because they looked so chic and so perfect as representative of the design crowd in this great (now landmarked) room of Eero Saarinen and Philip Johnson.
Bronson Van Wyck and Richard Mishaan. Rick Kaplan and Richard Mishaan.
Catching up. Last Wednesday at Michael’s, Evelyn Tompkins hosted a luncheon for the Japanese contemporary artist Mariko Mori. The artist’s work is now on view in an exhibition “Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori” at the Japan Society until January 12. To learn more, click here.

The luncheon was preceded by a private tour of the retrospective. Evelyn’s guests were Stephanie Foster, Tracy Snyder, Alice Ross, Grace Johnson, Matt Jones, Sarah Fleming, Shelly Malkin, Pam Owens, Tara Rockefeller, Tori Kempner, Caroline Garrity, Karen Tompkins, Gloria Feldcamp, Carole Guest and Eleni Petaloti.

Mariko had a show last year at the Royal Academy in London, and also designed the sets and costumes for a new production of “Madame Butterfly” for the Venice Biennale this past summer.
The Hosts: Mariko Mori and Evelyn Tompkins.
Evelyn Tompkins, Mariko Mori, Tara Rockefeller, and Tori Kempner.
Mariko Mori, Tara Rockefeller, Evelyn Tompkins, and Tracy Snyder in front of the Robert Graham bronzes in the Garden Room at Michael's.
Luncheon guests.
 

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