Friday, May 13, 2016

At a glance

Trump Tower and the omnipresent 432 Park Avenue from 56th Street and Fifth Avenue. 7:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, May 13, 2016. Beautiful, like a lovely Spring day, yesterday in New York, with full sunshine and temperatures in the mid-70s and no humidity.

It’s all about catching up. I woke up Wednesday morning  in what could be called the middle of the night to relieve myself. And on the way back to my bed in my unlighted bedroom (I’ve lived there for years, so who needs lights?), I bumped my left leg on the exact corner of a simple chair that didn’t look like it was made of steel but nevertheless met my shin with a crash, bash, that led me to the doctor on Wednesday morning and then on to the surgeon at Mt. Sinai on Wednesday afternoon, and now I am a member of the club, some club, that millions know about and never talk about. For good reasons.

I missed the Michael’s lunch that day much to my chagrin because I was meeting with Chris Meigher and the editorial staff of Quest  magazine to talk about the next three months of issues. I spent the rest of the day suffering and reminding myself that this was not really what suffering was about.

I missed a good day at Michael’s. At a glance, it looked like this:

Katherine Farley, who is the Chair of Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts as well as Senior Manager Director at Tishman Speyer, and married to Jerry Speyer;  Lisa Linden, public relations extraordinaire with George Lentz; Jack Abernathy; Jeffrey Beers; Brant Cryder, Beth Comstock; Ivan Delgado Gonzalez; Jonathan Estreich; at table one was Star Jones with Denise Rich, Bonnie Evans, Michelle Rella, Pamela Johanoff, Vivian Diamont, Felicia Taylor and Patricia Gucci. 

Click to order "In the Name of Gucci."
I don’t know what they were talking about but I do know the story around the table was about Ms. Gucci who has written a family memoir mainly about her father Aldo Gucci, and her mother who for many years was Sr. Gucci’s inamorata while he was otherwise engaged. And then after Patricia was born, things changed. Ms. Gucci has written a book about the whole matter, and surely about the life of her father who was a genius merchandiser and at the forefront of Italian retailers and manufacturers having such an enormous impact on the luxury market in our civilization.

I remember the early days of Gucci here on Fifth Avenue. It was a narrow shop where Godiva chocolates is now located (or was last time I noticed). This was in the mid-60s. It was the talk of the town because their “walking shoe” was the most must-have  shoe for all women in New York, fashionable and/or young. It was a simple low-heel shoe with a brass buckle and worn with Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress, every good looking woman in New York was of the moment.  The shoe was also just about the most expensive women’s shoe of the moment: $45!! The men’s loafter, also with a buckle, was just about the most expensive man’s shoe at $45.

The store was famous not only for their shoes but for their attitude, which was intimidating. First of all, they closed for lunch at 1 p.m. and opened again at 2. If you were in the store when they were closing for lunch, you had to leave. Sale or no sale. This was interpreted, realistically, as “you don’t matter as much as lunch, or at all.” The whole behavior intimidated everybody which made them Gucci more of a challenge and more popular. You had to dare yourself to go in there to buy the most expensive shoes in town, The kicker was the shoes were fabulous and classic and even today work in the fashion scheme of things.
Vivian Diamant, Felicia Taylor, Patricia Gucci, Star Jones, Denise Rich, Marcy, Bonnie Evans, Michele Rella, and Pamela Johananoff.
Meanwhile, back to the Michael’s lunch, moving around the room: Michael Kassan; Shelley Lazarus, President of Ogilvy Mather; Carl McCall; Keith Meister with Mike Ovitz; Chuck Pfeifer; Steven Stolman with Hutton Wilkinson, Tris Butterfield, Greg Heller, Lynn Schroeder; Bob Towbin; John Hays of Christie’s; Thomas Solomon; Beverly Camhe; Christopher Forbes of those Forbeses; Linda Robinson with Bob Daly; Barbara Taylor Bradford and Bob Bradford, husband a wife, writer and producer; Katie Zamarra; Jim Berkus; Jeremy Zimmer.

Wednesday, JH and his wife Danielle and I had a dinner date with Michel Witmer and his partner Dr. Dino Rivera at the the Armani Ristorante on Fifth Avenue and 56th Street. I’d never been there before. Neither had Jeff and Danielle Hirsch. It’s on the third floor with a special entrance on 56th Street between Fifth and Madison. I had no idea what to expect but only because I didn’t extend my imaginative powers. Armani is Armani: simple, elegant, monochromatically inclined, contemporary, sophisticated, shiny, serene with perfect service, unobtrusive and yet devoted, and menu that is exotically Italian, post-modern, healthy and also, like all of Armani, elegant.
Entering Armani Ristorante on the 3rd floor of the Armani Boutique.
The Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas-designed steel staircase across the floor from the restaurant.
Dessert at Armani Ristorante included profiteroles, sorbet, and panna cotta.
The panna cotta was DPC's favorite.
The view up Fifth Avenue, through the amber-colored filter of the Armani boutique.
Michel and DIno.
The five of us sat at a round table with banquettes.  I was told that this was former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s table and he is a frequent guest. JH and I met Michel and Dino more than ten years ago through TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair). It was Michel who invited us to visit the Fair in Maastricht, Netherlands in the early 2000s. You can find our coverage in the archives if you search for either TEFAF or Maastricht.

It turned out to be a fantastic privilege. The European Fine Art Fair is the greatest in the world. Maastricht is a city in Holland that still has ruins and references to the Roman conquerers. It was one of the few cities that was not affected by the Nazis (temporary) conquests during World War II and so it was not bombed, leaving its ancient and aged architecture intact and used today.
Michel Witmer behind the entrance desk below a chandelier of fresh flowers in test tubes at TEFAF 2015.
Another wall covered in fresh flowers in test tubes at the entrance to the fair.
Fresh flowers abound at TEFAF.
TEFAF is so popular among connoisseurs and collectors the world over that when the Fair opens, the local airport has more private jets landing than at the Super Bowl. The other side of it is that as rare and precious as the merchandise, the atmosphere is comme il faut. Michael Witmer is, or was at the time, the only American on the board. When we first learned of it through him, what interested us was that TEFAF is a non-profit organization that supports arts education, conservation of world monuments, cancer research and museum programs. It is unique in bringing its money from Europe to support programs in American museums, including the Metropolitan, MoMA, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and many others.

Numerous organizations take money from the United States organizations to support European cultural institutions, often named "American Friends of ..."   Over the past few years, TEFAF has given twenty-five grants to museums throughout the U.S. The TEFAF grants program was created and is headed by Michel.
Michel giving his infamous press tour an hour before TEFAF 2015 opens.
The big news is that TEFAF is coming to New York. The first TEFAF NY will open October 22, 2017, at the Park Avenue Armory. Michel will remain on the board of its parent company in Europe, TEFAF. And as the only American officer of the TEFAF NY corporation, he'll be involved with TEFAF here in NY, too. For those who follow the Armory antique shoes, TEFAF has purchased the Haughton Antiques Show space and will bring their sensation exhibitions to New York. The vetting system for TEFAF is the strictest in the world with more than 100  involved in the process. New Yorkers and Americans are in for a treat and a really big show.
TEFAF 2015 on opening day.
End of the week, TGIF: Last night Sarah Rosenthal organized a dinner with Annette Tapert, Alex Hitz, Kathy Steinberg and this writer at Sette Mezzo. A group of friends getting together where at the end we learned we were all guests of Annette. Sette was a mob scene, no surprise and possibly the most sophisticated Upper East Side restaurant of the time, the moment.

Last night’s among the rez list were the following (plus): Renee and Robert Belfer and daughter Elizabeth. Betsy Lovett with David Beer, Peter and Barbara Georgescu, Ian and Ellen Graham, coming from the memorial at Jane and Peter Marino’s apartment for Betsy’s brother-in-law, the late Larry Lovett: Harry and Gigi Benson and Linda Buckley, Catie and Donald Marron with Lauren and John Veronis, Alex Papachristidis and Scott Nelson with Caroline Berthet, John and Joan Jakobson with Philip and Joan Kingsley in from London for the week, and Patrick Murphy; Joe and Hilary Califano with Herb and Jeanne Siegel; Paola and Mickey Schulhof, Jon Corzine and friends.

One of the restaurant partners, Oriente, was back on the job after a month’s absence. Oriente had had a stress test and they happened to find something questionable and so with another test, they found three potential blockages. Next: open heart surgery, by the same doctor who operated on Bill Clinton. One month later, Oriente is 14 pounds lighter, looks 14 years younger and is back on the job feeling really find. “I’m a lucky man,” he told me. So are the Sette Mezzo customers.
The cookies, which never last long, at Sette Mezzo.
More Catching up to do. Thousands joined The New York Women’s Foundation at a breakfast held at the Marriott Marquis last Thursday, May 5 to celebrate the leadership and philanthropy of Tory Burch, CEO & Designer of Tory Burch LLC and Founder of the Tory Burch Foundation and Elizabeth A. Sackler, PhD, human rights activist, President of The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation and founder of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

The breakfast honored the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), launched in 2015 by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council, the first-ever effort solely dedicated to supporting girls, young women and transgender youth of color in the United States.
Director of Individual Giving Madeline Holder, writer Harville Hendrix, founder and president of The Sister Fund Helen Lakelly Hunt, Co-founder and executive director of Solidaire Leah Hunt-Hendrix and President & CEO of The New York Women's Foundation Ana L. Oliveira
Policy Coordinator at Girls for Gender Equity, Cherno Biko, Gloria Malone, Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito, President & CEO of The New York Women's Foundation Ana L. Oliveira, Amanda Matos, Joanne Smith, and Doctor Danielle Moss Lee
The Foundation’s 2016 grant recipients were recognized at the breakfast for their exemplary efforts to create an equitable and just future for women and families in New York City.

Founded by Ms. Mark-Merito, the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) is the nation’s first ever initiative to invest in young women of color and is dedicated to improving life outcomes in economic security and justice, education, health and safety.  The award was accepted by Ms. Mark-Viverito, YWI Co-Chairs Danielle Moss Lee and Joanne Smith, and YWI Advisory Council Co-Chairs Cherno Biko, Gloria Malone, and Amanda Matos.
Honoree Elizabeth Sackler
Honoree Gloria Malone
The Celebrating Women® Breakfast is one of New York’s most well-attended fundraisers. More than 2,000 women leaders in community, philanthropy, corporate and government community gather each year to support The Foundation’s work to promote long-term economic security, sexual health, and safety for women and their families in New York.

The Foundation is an inclusive, cross-cultural, women-led alliance of women catalyzing partnerships and leveraging human and financial capital to achieve sustained economic security and justice for women and girls. In 1987, when it began, it invested $50,000 in four organizations; 28 years later in 2015, it granted $6 million to 90 partners.  For more information, visit
Honoree Cherno Biko
Honoree Amanda Mato
Head of Goldman Sachs Impact Investing business, global head of corporate engagement and president of Goldman Sachs Foundation Dina Powell
Honoree Tory Burch
Faigy Gelbstein
Anita Channapati
Mariachi Flor de Toloache

Contact DPC here.