Thursday, September 22, 2016

Feeling like a kid again

High above Park Avenue 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, September 22, 2016. The first day of Autumn in New York. Sunny and warm with humidity threatening but never quite a success.

The Calendar. Yesterday, Shirley Lord hosted a luncheon at her apartment for Amy Astley, the new editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest.

Shirley Lord at her apartment with Amy Astley, the new editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest.
Amy, who was the creator of Teen Vogue started out at Conde Nast as an assistant to Nancy Novogrod when Nancy was editor of HG (formerly House & Garden). From HG she moved to Vogue as assistant to our luncheon hostess, who was then Beauty Editor whom she briefly succeeded when Shirley joined Sam Waksal's ill-fated Shortly after Anna Wintour chose her to launch Teen Vogue. She still doesn’t look like she’s old enough to even have been at HG as a young adult. However, I learned in conversation that she has a son and a daughter who are college age.

In fact Emilia Fanjul joined us to say hello to the guest of honor and the two women were immediately talking about how difficult it is for young people to get into a good school these days. Emilia also has a granddaughter who loves Teen Vogue,  and is now looking at colleges. Evidently, private school kids don’t have the kind of priority they used to have with the Ivy League because the colleges are reaching out to special students from public schools. I know nothing about this, but Astley and Fanjul are very knowledgeable from experience.

This latest issue of Architectural Digest or AD  as so many now refer to it, has a distinctly different feel starting with the cover with a pre-teen boy in jeans and barefoot, stretched out on a very sumptuous looking red velvet sofa, his head propped up by a sumptuous-looking velvet pillow while intensely looking at an iPad propped up on his stomach. The room with its greige-walls is rich in reds and golds. There is a large Empire-era family oil placed on the wall above. It is clearly an “exotically” decorated European room to an American eye. It happens to be the billiard room of the ancestral chateau in France’s Val de Loire and belonging to Flore de Brantes, a prominent Brussels gallery owner.
Inside is the story full of 18th and 19th and 20th century furniture, art and objets. De Brantes and her children look like a regular young family who might just live in San Fran or LA or Newport Beach. It is  beautiful and it also affirms my opinion that the American culture comes out of Southern California (SF too) and now mixes all over the world with everything from the ages.
Brantes, with sons Octave and Alfred.
Now you know what I think. Amy Astley is a girl from Michigan who went to university there and came to New York and got a job as an assistant (maybe even an intern?) working for Nancy at HG. She loved the job and said it was really just all pleasure and not hard work. Then after HG closed (Si Newhouse had always wanted AD) and Conde Nast was finally able to acquire it, they did not need HG. A lot of people still miss it. Amy is still that girl from the Midwest, sure of her abilities certainly but not apparently impressed enough to forget where she came from. Her first four issues of AD demonstrate that she has a strong background and knows what she wants for her magazine.

Shirley Lord is an excellent hostess, one of the best, no doubt, in New York. She always has a variety of people, personalities and interests. Yesterday it was 13 women and me. I did like the situation because the girls at my end of the table were all smart and friendly and talking about Now. On my left were Emilia Fanjul Pfeiffer who has a very successful pop-up store business on East 75th Street between Madison and Park. Open four days a week and every week the merchandise is different. One week recently the whole store was about a portraitist’s work. Evidently it was so amazing that the painter received a number of commissions. 
Shirley a couple weeks ago at the annual luncheon of the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT.
Next to Emilia was Susan Fales-Hill who always has interesting writing projects (writing books) and is now researching her next and between the two of us the words and ideas go flying. On the other side of me was Mary Boies, who is a founding partner of Boies & McInnis LLP, and married to attorney David Boies.

Shirley told me Mary is a triathlon star. Mary didn’t tell me that. We talked about her life and her family; fascinating All-American stuff. Next to her was Holly Peterson, the writer/novelist, again a person with many creative irons in the fire of life. And next to Holly was Kathleen Lacey, PR executive of the first order in the area of business. At the other end of the table was our hostess next to Emilia Fanjul. And next to them: Nancy Novograd, Lauren Santo Domingo, Patricia Lansing, Lauren DuPont, Carol Saper, Catie Marron, and  Annette de la Renta.

I didn’t feel “out of place” although being the only male in a sea of smart, active and attractive, and sophisticated women, can be awesome, and yes slightly intimidating if you’re not feeling up to par. I felt like a kid again around all these smart girls. I don’t think I showed it – which was my goal – but it was there.

Shirley always has great food. Her menu was prepared by Francois-Xavier Tritsch, the executive chef. And it was light but it was great. The hors d’oeuvres (which I was too late for) were Blinis and caviar and Spring rolls. At table the appetizer was Filet of sole with Fondue of leeks and ginger Sauce. I don’t know what that sounds like and I didn’t know at the time exactly what I was eating but it was fantastic. The main course was a real ladies’ lunch course: Cheese soufflé with spring salad.  I had seconds.  Then came (very small portions these) the dessert: Lemon tart with meringue and lemon sorbet.
The luncheon table, almost but not quite seated.
While we're on the subject of interior design and great taste and smart women, John Rosselli hosted a book party for his wife Bunny Williams at his wide and spacious shop of uniquely elegant and beautiful items for the house inside and out. Bunny has a new book, about their house in the Dominican Republic. Both Williams and Rosselli are working all the time, have a house upstate in Connecticut, plus an apartment in New York, and this inviting-looking place in the Caribbean. And they travel too. It's just a natural thing for the two of them.
The entrance to the Rosselli Gallery last night, just a few steps east of Second Avenue on 61st Street.
I've never seen a book signing with this kind of crowd. There's also a good bar and very good hors d'oeuvres just casually set on table amidst the garrulous melee. I was there briefly but I'm sure many were there for the duration (until they had to turn out the lights). Parties at Williams or Rossellis are always jammed with people enjoying the company.
Bunny and her new book. Click to order.
Michele Ateyeh, Cindy Lewis and Alex Papachriditis. Alex was just exiting. Ateyeh, Lewis and I were arriving. The three were talking about the rumor about a big Fifth Avenue store closing and being replaced by a big tech store.
East 83rd Street and East End Avenue looking up and west. Home just as the Sun set leaving us with skies of pink and white and blue. The truth.