Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lunching at Tiffany's

Fall-time fun. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014. Very warm, about 70 degrees, yesterday in New York. Overcoats left at home. The city is a little quieter, and so was the traffic. Although the tree at Rockefeller Center will be lit one of these days very soon and that’ll be that with traffic.

I went to lunch at Tiffany. Not quite the same as Breakfast but fine by me. It was Tiffany’s annual holiday luncheon. I’ve written about this before. It’s purely a business public relations event. The guest list is editors, fashion editors, fashion reporters, etc. Everybody feels the same way I do. There’s just something very nice about it. It has a bit of a warmth to the way it’s done.

It is Tiffany’s way of thanking those who write about their business and their products. “Products” sounds like a mundane word for what they sell because Tiffany is elegant and refined and classically classy. So is the luncheon.

It’s always held in what is an executive meeting room. It’s functional for a large group dining. I notice that this year the room had been redecorated, very white on white as you can see in the photos I took, with a plush, very silken white rug and wintertime murals on the wall.

Waiters were standing at the entrance with flutes of champagne and glasses of white wine, and sparkling water. In my experience most editors don’t get to speak with each other about their work and their interest. At this lunch, however, people have a good time getting to know people they “know of.”

In my conversations the Kardashians came up several times. They are discussed in an editorial way but their success astounds people. The subject soon was Kim’s new booty (which Blair Sabol wrote about on these pages weeks ago and provoked angry and ornery responses for being so “vulgar”). The older editors understand that the younger members of their staff are entirely influenced or in one way or another affected by their business success.
The recently redecorated executive meeting room at Tiffany, yesterday noontime, set for its annual holiday lunch for editors and journalists.
Someone said (I think it was I), “they’re the new fashion arbiters.” Someone else agreed. Then the subject turned to the cell phone age versus the magazines. People read magazines less and less is the claim. A large part of it is the Internet, but the larger part may be almost two generations of people who only read their cell phones, and who speak less but text more. This is all discussed with exasperation but surrender. The change has changed, everything is faster and faster. This seems inevitable under the current circumstances. Although nothing is ever what it seems when you’re speeding.
The new mural.
Nevertheless, it’s all an interesting and challenging business from these editors’ different points of view. We sat for lunch at about 12:40. As you can see, the tables were simple, smart, and elegant.

Once everyone was seated, Michael Kowalski, Tiffany’s CEO and Chairman for the last fifteen years and a thirty-one year veteran executive at Tiffany, got up to give the guests an annual report of Tiffany’s year. It is the kind of thing you might imagine you’d hear at a meeting of the Board of Directors. It’s numbers and statistics but Mr. Kowalski has a reverent manner in speaking of his business, so there is something personal in it all. You feel his confidence.
Mr. Kowalski greets the guests and recounts the past year for Tiffany in the world. That's the Times' Vanessa Friedman listening to our host.
Kowalski’s style is modest, yet resolute and direct. He tells us about the corporation’s activities, store openings (in China, in Paris, in Miami, etc.), numbers, conclusions. It is delivered by a serious individual who asks nothing more than your brief attention. But at the end, you also have a feeling for the company, the brand, as they say, as a real member of the community.

That is the brand. But it is also its position, in the old fashioned sense – its position in the consciousness of the community. Tiffany is legendary. The lyric Stiff neck or stiff knees, they stand straight at Tiff’ny’s  says it on many levels. They’ve kept it that way while opening their first store this year on Red Square in Moscow, with a place in the GUM department store across the Square from Lenin’s Tomb and the Kremlin Walls. Think about that for a minute.
The first course.
Mr. Kowalski also announced that he was retiring on April 5th, 2015 and will be succeeded by Frederic Cumenal, who was present and is currently President of the company. At table, I was seated next to Candy Price Pratts and Marion Fasel. Marion is a jewelry editor with In Style (www.marionfasel.com). We’d never met before but we quickly learned that we had similar curiosity about our work. She’d just been covering the Bunny Mellon auction.

Candy Price Pratts is a kind of legend in the fashion world. A New York girl born and bred. A fashion director with positions at Bergdorf’s, Bloomingdales (where she worked under the legendary Marvin Traub) and many other consultant projects. A dynamo. You can kind of tell that just by looking at her. She’s moving. I not sure what exactly her main business interest is but I do know she is much in demand, high profiled, highly respected, serious and fun and interesting to sit next to at a Tiffany lunch.
Across the table. I have no idea what they were talking about. I wanted to get a good picture of the table.
Martha Stewart and Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times were seated on either side of Mr. Kowalski, across the table from us. I asked Martha if she were having a big Thanksgiving dinner (which I’ve heard she’s had before) at her house in Bedford. Yes. Thirty-two. Three (maybe four) turkeys. With the help of a brilliant chef who was at Le Cirque. She asked me what I was doing. Dinner at a friend's house with their families, which I’ve been doing for a few years. She knew my hostess and was surprised to learn that she was so able and active in the kitchen – prepping even days before the dinner (I’m sure she’s working on it as I write this Diary).

I happened to tell Martha that the only objection to being a guest instead of a host is that there are no leftovers. The pumpkin pie, the cold stuffing. But mainly the pumpkin pie.  Martha  responded to my tragedy by telling me that she makes all the pies herself, and she said she’d send me one. Wow! Not only will I be having my own pumpkin pie but from the lady herself. Gee.

We were all lucky to be there.
There are four of these Christmas trees in the main room on the ground floor of Tiffany.
Last night, the town now benefit gala-free for the rest of this week, I had dinner at Swifty’s with Liz Smith and Tita Cahn and Mickey Ateyeh. Tita, who hosted the dinner, lives in Beverly Hills in the same house she lived in with her late husband Sammy, is on her way to London. Mickey will be on her way to a big dinner she hosts every Thanksgiving at the Four Seasons. Liz told me that the Thanksgiving recipe she published in her column yesterday brought a response from NYSD readers “all over the world!” She is staying close to home like this writer. Swifty’s was busy. Boaz Mazor was dining with Shirley Lord and Peter Hayward; Gay and Nan Talese were dining with Gale Hayman and Dr. Richard Bockman (Mr/Mrs)and Alice Mayhew; Fredericke and Jeremy Biggs hosting another table.
Walking home last night after dinner at Swifty's -- the window of Lexington Gardens.
More last week’s: On Monday, November 17th, nearly 100 guests gathered at The New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for the President's Council fall dinner. The evening featured a conversation with veteran television producer Norman Lear and New York Magazine's Frank Rich in the Edna Barnes Salomon Room. The conversation was followed by dinner in the McGraw Rotunda.

The President's Council is a select group of The New York Public Library's most devoted supporters, individuals who are committed to education, ideas, and access to knowledge. Members contribute $25,000 or more each year in support of the Library's essential operating needs. Last year, the President's Council raised $3.6 million for the Library. 
Chris Kojima, Alice Tisch, Beth Kojima, Norman Lear, Gayfryd Steinberg, Frank Rich, Louise Grunwald, and Tony Marx.
President's Council Co-Chair Alice Tisch at the podium.
Norman Lear and Frank Rich in conversation ...
Lyn and Norman Lear with Martin Duberman and Eli Zal.
Merilee and Roy Bostock.
Joan Hardy Clark and Ward Cunningham-Rundles.
Carey Maloney and Hermes Mallea.
Beth Kojima and Katie Zorn.
Amanda Waldron and Caroline Schmidt Barnett.
The conversation was followed by dinner in the McGraw Rotunda.
Guests received copies of Norman Lear's Even This I Get To Experience.
And last Thursday night, the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House held their annual Associates Committee Benefit. They honored Kamie Lightburn, the Board of Trustees member and Associates Committee Chair of LHN. Kamie is one of those committee members who is a worker 24/7 while at the same time quietly enjoys the experience. 260 friends attended. They raised $300,000 which is a new record for this benefit.

Michael Kors sponsored and hosted a cocktail party before the Dinner Dance at a private club. Last October 29th, he hosted a lunch for 35 women supporters and donated a percentage of sales going to the Neighborhood House. He also has made a generous donation to Lenox Hill Neighborhood House for its many programs benefiting our neighbors in need.
Co-Chairs Kristen Swenson, Kathy Prounis, Emily Leonard, Lacary Sharpe, Kamie Lightburn, Othon Prounis, and friends.
Richard and Kamie Lightburn.
Richard Lightburn, Chip Gaudreau, Tom Devita, and Erin Gaudreau.
Lousia Gallager, Kathy Angele, and Dale Noelle. Othon and Kathy Prounis.
Molly Glasgow, Kamie Lightburn, Larissa Saveliev, and Rachael Sorrentino.
RIchard Lightburn, Heather Van Ness, and Samuel Won.
Whitney and Drew Mogavero. Natasha Cornstein and Susan Swimmer Brennen.
Alberto Villalobos, Merceds Desio, and Mauricio Villalobos.
Dr. Doug Steinbrech and Mark Gilbertson.
Liz Munson and Kristen Swenson.
Elizabeth Saint-Amand and Victor Geraci. Audrey and Joe Train.
Clair Fitzgerald, Emily Leonard, and Richard Leonard.
Michael and Kemp Steib.
Lindsey Harper and Dustin O'Neal.
Shirin Christoffersen and Kristen Swenson.
Paige Hardy, Yesim Philip, and Dusty Philip.
Michelle Smith and Andy Oshrin.
Linda Pratka and Lacary Sharpe. Emily Leonard and Nyssa Kourakos.
Michael McGraw and David Duncan.
Karen Klopp, John Glass, and Martha Glass.
Robert Levy, Kate Allen, and Barbara Garjian.
Samantha Gellert, Jon Gellert, and Sarah Kurita.
Mary Van Pelt and Mark Gilbertson.
Guy Robinson and Elizabeth Stribling.
Elizabeth Belfer and Paul Beirne.
Kamie Lightburn and Kathy Prounis.

Contact DPC here.