Friday, August 12, 2016

We’re havin’ a heat wave

After the brief rain. 6:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, August 12, 2016. We’re havin’ a heat wave; a tropical heat wave, as the master Irving Berlin wrote in 1933 for a musical show called “As Thousands Cheer.” Although no one was cheering yesterday.

The weather is the story. Very warm in New York. Mid-afternoon the heat reminded me of the trip we made to Abu Dhabi several years ago. The first morning there I opened the terrace door of our room when I got up. Wow! The mass of heat rushed in. It felt like I was standing in front of a giant radiator. Here at the top of the day the weather man put the Real Feel at 114!  In the late afternoon distance there was thunder, however and with a small breeze moving through, there a brief steady rain that washed the streets and sidewalks and moved on the lot of the humidity with it. Whew.

Yesterday at lunch John and I were talking about age and birthdays and I recalled his 75th birthday celebration which was held at Blenheim Palace, the home of the Spencer-Churchills, the dukes of Marlborough. John and his wife Sharon hosted about two hundred guests (I'm guessing) at a birthday banquet in the great library of palace. It was one of the great parties of the decade. Here is John at dinner seated next to Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, daughter of the 11th duke and elder sister of the current (and 12th) duke, James.
The red carpet leading to the steps of the entrance to Blenheim for Ambassador John Loeb's seventy-fifth birthday party.
I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Ambassador John Loeb who had just returned from two months in Aspen. More and more New Yorkers (who can afford it) are choosing Aspen for a summer retreat. This is not new but it has become an established summer destination, an antidote to the harum scarum of the Hamptons with its parking lot highways. Given the choice, personally I’d prefer being by the sea, by the beautiful sea.

Michael’s was fairly quiet. But so was Fifth Avenue. I had been there the day before with Maria Janis and it was busy enough that we had to talk louder to hear our conversation.

The Wednesday Michael’s list: Diane Clehane doing her Fishbowl New York interview with spiritual guru Marianne Williamson;  Mickey Ateyeh with Colette Malouf; Susan Blond; Lisa Linden with Patrick Murphy; Alexandre Chemla; Brenda Breslauer; Lesley Goldrich; Mark Green; Liz Kaplow; Bing Kung; Charles Mccurdy; Eva Mohr; Marc Rosen with Mark Ackermann; Henry Schlieff of The Discovery Channel; Andrew Stein; Christine Taylor; Roger Friedman; Alexandra Lebenthal; Justin Smith of Bloomberg; George Gurley; Michael Patterson; Herb Siegel with son Bill; Jim Abernathy.

So where are they? As quiet as it is in Manhattan, out East and up North people are out and about.

Last Sunday, for example, Meryl Streep was in East Hampton at a sneak screening, hosted by Paramount Pictures, of the “highly anticipated” comedy “Florence Foster Jenkins” a real-life (the movie version) story with the lady herself portrayed by the Actress Herself. Ms. Streep was there in the flesh. I wasn’t but I could tell just from looking at the photos of her at the preview that it was an “up” evening. Streep, as she’s affectionately referred to by those who’ve known her forever, does that to a room.
Meryl Streep, Simon Helberg, Stephen Frears (Director), and Hugh Grant.
Florence Foster Jenkins was an actual character born in the Gilded Age who, according to certain film publicists could be considered the Kim Kardashian of her generation – Oy -- and came to fame and attention during the 1920s without any actual talent. Ironically, only Streep has the talent to do no-talent.

After the screening, there was an after-party at Guild Hall and Blue Parrot in East Hampton. Among those attending was the Star herself, and her co-stars Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, as well as director English director Stephen Frears who also "The Queen" and "Philomenal.” 
Shoshanna Lonstein with daughter Sienna. Peter and Jamee Gregory.
Paramount organized this family affair in the Hamptons because Hugh Grant's brother, Jamie Grant, has a house in Southampton, and Meryl Streep's sister-in-law, Amy Bloom, has a house in East Hampton.

Streep and Grant showed up at the screening with the whole-fam-damily, as they say. Stephen Frears, who flew in from London and was also staying with family, and showed up with his son, director Will Frears, who lives in Bellport. Hamptons first timer, Simon Helberg, admitted to purchasing a pair of white pants to "fit in" with the crowd. 
Gigi Stone. Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne.
Among those attending the evening were  Robert Wilson, Candice Bergen, Bob Balaban, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Walter Bobbie, Dick Cavett, Peter Duchin, Anne Eisenhower, Volker Schlondorff and Terry George. 

The topic of conversation for the evening was “honesty.” How far would you go to not offend a friend with no talent? (In this crowd it would depend on how big the Name is.) The filmmakers discussed how people were much more polite during Florence's day and how different her life might have been if she lived in today's world of internet trolls and social media memes. Although who knows; she might have been bigger than the K’s. After all, she had chutzpah too!
Alina Cho. Dick Cavett and Martha Rogers.
While we’re in East Hampton. Friday, the day before the screening the “Florence…” screening, Mia Fonssagrives Solow hosted a celebration in honor of the French Heritage Society at her compound in East Hampton. The guest list was made up of art influencers, socialites and business moguls.

Guests mingled in the modern space adorned with Mia's contemporary sculpture, ranging from petite bronze robots to large abstract fiberglass forms in vibrant colors. In the crowd, Ruth Appelhof, Kelly Bensimon, Janet Lehr, Tracey Amon, Mark Borghi, Jack Tilton, Jean Shafiroff, Francine LeFrak, Alan Patricoff, and Broadway producer Wendy Federman.
Mia Fonssagrives-Solow.
Mia, a child of both Parisian and New York culture, growing up among the stars of art and fashion of the 1960s -- including her father, French photographer Fernand Fonssagrives, her mother, the famous model Lisa Fonssagrives, and  her stepfather Irving Penn.

Mia's work is currently in the Eric Firestone Gallery (East Hampton), Louisa Guinness Gallery (London), Galerie Maeght (Paris), and the Galerie Agnés Monplaisir in Paris, where she will be opening her retrospective exhibition on October 14th. 
Gary Adamek, Ruth Appelhof, and Eric Firestone.
Janet Lehr and Alan Patricof. Cori Seaberg and Geoffroy Berman.
Sam Keller.
Kelly Bensimon, Mia Fonssagrives-Solow, and Angela Firestone.
Jean Shafiroff, Rick Friedberg, and Francine LeFrak.
Sheldon Solow and Mia Fonssagrives-Solow. Jane Radford and Susan Patricof.
Nadia Alhejailan, Tracey Amon, and Jake Weiss.
Red Jahncke and Robin Davis. Jill Fitzburgh and Courtney Brodie.
Virginia Zilkha, Donald Zilkha, and Francesca Bittan.
Gary Lawrance, ZitaDavisson, and Martin Shafiroff.
And to the northeast of us up in Nantucket, Wendy Moonan writes:

It may be because Nantucket is out there in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 30 miles off Cape Cod. Or the fact the sun shines there 200 days of per year. Or because there is no humidity on the island. Whatever it is, the women of Nantucket – or at least the Nantucket Historical Association – are such dynamos they should be running General Motors.
The entrance to the Nantucket Historical Association's VIP Cocktail Party.
With an army of supporters, a week ago, Tuesday Maureen Fennessy Bousa, chair of Nantucket Design Week, organized a VIP cocktail party for 90 in honor of the week’s keynote speakers in a private house on the water to kick things off, followed by a sold-out luncheon for 180 on Wednesday; a design panel Thursday evening featuring such Manhattan decorating stars as Juan Montoya and James Huniford, and another party at the oldest house on the island, a NHA property, which had been cleverly spruced up by four visiting students from the the New York School of Interior Design.

“We started the antiques show 38 years ago, to benefit the Historical Association, and then it went to ‘antiques and design,’” Bousa explained. “Then we noticed the events that were selling out were design-focused so we inaugurated Nantucket by Design.”

The program was flawless.
Party goers mix and mingle outside of the Nantucket home designed by Ike Kligerman Barkley.
And so was the talent being honored at the annual design luncheon: Ike Kligerman Barkley, a Manhattan-based architecture firm that specializes in “updated” contemporary shingle style houses and a member of the coveted “AD 100.”

Ann and Johnny Johnson of Houston recently bought a house on Nantucket that IKB had gutted, enlarged and decorated for another client. They loved it and changed very little. Then, after the Johnsons met Thomas A. Kligerman, one of the three partners of IKB, in Houston, they generously offered to let the Nantucket Historical Association host its kickoff party at their house. (They are strong supporters of the NHA as well.)

We knew we wanted to have a reception at one of our houses, so this was perfect,” Kligerman said. “I grew up in New England, so I have an affinity for shingle houses but ours have a more modern edge to them.”
NYSID meet designer John Ike of Ike Kligerman Barkley.
Added partner Joel Barkley, “A shingled house Sconset in Nantucket inspired us; we like the way Nantucket houses emanate from the ground.”

Partner John Ike of IKB had converted an old garage on the Johnsons’ property into an “art barn” for children. Among the guests, it was a particular hit. “It’s where all the neighborhood kids stop in and do their coloring,” said Mary Randolph Ballinger, a native of St. Louis who summers on Nantucket.

Other guests included Susan Zises Green, a noted Manhattan designer who summers on the island, Jean Doyen de Montaillou, a Paris designer based in Greenwich, Christine Haney and Eileen McComb of Farrow & Ball, a luncheon sponsor; Chessie Breen of the New York PR firm Niven Breen; and Hilary Gustafsson, a former American Express executive who served capably as moderator at the design luncheon.
The New York School of Interior Design students that were selected to reimagine the rooms in the NHA's Oldest House property for the week of Nantucket by Design.
Tom Kligerman is currently also the popular chairman of the Sir John Soane Museum Foundation, and so several supporters came to Nantucket to celebrate the IKBA honors, including board member Barbara Pine of New York, Elizabeth and Stanley DeForest Scott (he is of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York), Manhattan banker Maggie Carey, foundation director Chas Miller III, decorator Birch Coffee, Judy Prause and me (full disclosure: I’m on the Soane Foundation board).

Other Nantucket local VIPs included Suzy and Richard Grote, of St. Louis, who have known Tom Kligerman since 2001 and have participated in several Soane Foundation trips ever since. They kindly hosted a private dinner for IKB and Soane supporters at their new house overlooking the harbor, which was just decorated by Suzy. The couple grilled fresh swordfish and themselves cooked a scrumptious dinner for 33. This is what makes Nantucket special: the natives take charge and do it all by themselves, perfectly. A feast with no fuss.
Maria Spears and Janet Sherlund (NHA Board of Trustees President).
“It was a perfect night: unpretentious food, fun and not at all stuffy,” said former banker John Everet, a Soane supporter on Nantucket who attended at dinner with his wife Cynthia, a noted Boston interior designer.

It also explains why Design Week was a triumph. These women know how to organize, hostess, fundraise and get things done. They should be running General Motors.
David Sprouls (NYSID) and Maureen Bousa (Nantucket by Design chair).
Peggy Tramposch, Helen Lynch, and John Ike.
Hilary Gustafsson (Design Luncheon moderator). Samantha Herzog and Thomas A. Kligerman.
Anne Marie Bratton, Eileen McComb (Farrow & Ball), Doug Bratton, Meg Touborg, and Edward Bousa.
Joh Ike, Ann Johnson and Johnny Johnson (homeowners), Joel Barkley, and Thomas A. Kligerman.
Jean Doyen de Montaillou.
Photographs by Lindsay Scouras (Nantucket Historical Association); Hunter Abrams/BFA (Mia Fonssagrives-Solow).

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