A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That

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Dinner at The Polo Bar celebrating Hunt Slonem's 70th birthday. Photo: Patrick McMullan

Friday, July 16, 2021. Bright and sunny but muggy yesterday in New York with the RealFeel in the high 90s. And no rain (which we were just getting used to as nature’s version of air conditioning.

I went to lunch with an old friend at E.A.T., which is a fancier  diner/luncheonette delicatessen (sort of) on Madison Avenue. It was the creation of Eli Zabar, the brother who opened his own businesses on the East Side. It’s been there for years and quite some time ago changed ownership, I was told, in a divorce. It remains top of the line and still seems and looks new and definitely bustling.

Waiting for a table in a (short) line in the deli area, you’re standing next to the food display cases holding all the “prepared” take-out food, and watching the hands behind the counter with a spoon filling a cup with something delicious-looking for a customer. And you’re glad you’re there and would soon be ordering.

After lunch, gelato came a-callin’ …

They’ve also got the street section for outdoor lunching (and dining). Walking away after lunch I noticed that the four shops next door all the way to 81st and Madison, are women’s fashion shops. On the sight of them it occurred to me that they were all in a choice location where so many of the women in the neighborhood (Fifth and Park Avenues, etc.) pass by on their way to and from … E.A.T. Even better to see on the very warm day where people who were out and about (and lunching and shopping).

I’m watching the city beginning to return its normal energy that still draws the crowds and the serious; that is New York. The big social event of the week — other than my lunches and dinners — was a surprise birthday held at the Polo Bar which is a favorite restaurant for Hunt Slonem, who turned 70.

The table is set at The Polo Bar with a Hunt Slonem table runner, Hunt Slonem bunny bar bowls, and Hunt Slonem dinner napkins.

The Polo Bar has been closed, although I didn’t know this, and when I arrived, there was a typed message on the front entrance “Private Party.” By the time I’d got there, the birthday boy was already there so I don’t know if he knew. Could it be they took over the whole restaurant for a “surprise” party for Hunt?

Drinks were held in the bar, and the restaurant is subterranean. If you didn’t know, it is “Ralph Lauren’s…” with all of the impeccability and flair that are his brilliant design tools. The main dining room which is all wood paneled and handsome and must have a capacity of at least 100. When we arrived at the dining room, there was only one long table for 20 set before us.

Hunt Slonem dinner napkins and bunny bowls …

There were twenty guests. The hostess who organized the dinner was Penelope Kernen, a gallery owner from Short Hills who is at the core an enterprising entrepreneuress. She told me that Hunt’s work has been very popular with her clientele for a long time. Seeing the collectors’ response to his images, she had the bright idea of making commercial (household) objects using Hunt’s classic images for napkins, table cloths, lamps, pillows, plates, bowls, placemats and many other items. I think she started this a couple of years ago. Sells out in Bergdorfs, sells out at Neimans and in many shops across the nation. Hunt has long been a successful artist but Kernen’s idea has created a whole new industry with it. Everyone is pleased.

Hunt’s cake.
Hunt’s pillows.

Obviously it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the items, making a beautiful, colorful, and dramatic setting for the birthday dinner. Everyone present was a friend of the birthday boy and knew many of his friends. It was a perfect New York evening housed in Ralph Lauren’s dining room which despite is space has an intimacy provided by the décor and the paneling. The birthday boy was obviously enjoying himself too. And when the birthday cake was being served, he was served with something else — don’t know what — that must be his favorite dessert at his favorite restaurant.

Victoria Wyman, Liliana Cavendish, Joe Kernen, Francine LeFrak, and Penelope Kernen.
Benny Tabatabai, Victoria Wyman and Geoffrey Bradfield
Di Mondo, Eric Javits and Nicole Salmasi
L. to r.: Blake Kernen, Joe Kernen, and Penelope Kernen; Penelope Kernen and Rick Friedberg.
Anthony Cenname and Nicole Salmasi.
Francine LeFrak, Joe Kernen, and Nicole Salmasi.
Eric Javits, Gigi Fisdell, DiMondo, Penelope Kernen, and Geoffrey Bradfield.
Joanna Fisher and Jonathan Marder.
Liliana Cavendish, Hunt Slonem, Di Mondo, Francine LeFrak, and Eric Javits.
Eloise Goldman, Eric Firestone, and Sabina Firestone.
Hunt Slonem trying on his (Eric Javits) birthday hat.
Joanna Fisher, Gigi Fisdell, the birthday boy, Di Mondo, Nicole Salmasi, and Eric Javits.

Last Friday out East, after Elsa moved north and the evening turned from dark to dry sunlit skies, a book party for international and fashion photographer Christopher Von Hohenberg was underway at the beautiful Madoo Conservancy.

If you don’t know Madoo, it was established by the painter Robert Dash in 1967 who planted the original gardens. He was flamboyant and talented as a painter, a writer, a gardener, and even an inspired cook. When Dash passed away, he left the property to Alejandro Saralegui, who has done an extraordinary job of continuing Robert’s legacy. Saralegui is dedicated to the study, preservation, and enhancement of Madoo, the ever-changing, horticulturally diverse garden with historic structures established in the village of Sagaponack where they seek to continually engage, educate, and inspire visitors within an ever-changing, entirely organic environment.

After the 1967 purchase of Madoo, the garden was developed as a meadow through which Dash would mow paths and place a chair or a bench when he came across a good view.
Dash fashioned the house at Madoo from a 1740 hay barn and various outbuildings.
Madoo Conservancy is open to the public on a by-appointment-only basis. Open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 12:00 to 4:30 PM.

Now back to the summer fete. Von Hohenberg is a New York native who spent time in the North Shore, Southampton and Europe as a child. He credits his stepfather, photographer Wendy Hilty, who presented Christophe with his first camera (a Rolleflex Twin lens 2.8) for his love and knowledge of photography. After  graduating from university in Paris in 1975, he moved on to photography professionally freelancing with Guy Bourdain in Paris, and Frank Moscati, Bob Stone, and Peter Castellano in New York City.

Christophe von Hohenberg with his book The White Album of the Hamptons

In 1979, Christophe started shooting fashion for American Vogue; and in the 1980s he expanded his career shooting for such publications as Andy Warhol’s Interview Mag with Marc Balet. Soon he was working with well known publications ranging from Vanity Fair, German & French Vogue and photographing advertising campaigns for Givenchy, Estee Lauder, New York Times, and many others.

His new photography book, The White Album, with a foreword by his friend and author Jay McInerney, is a love letter to his time spent on the beaches in the Hamptons. As McInerney states: “These images are by turns soothing, and haunting and yet somehow familiar. Von Hohenberg has discovered a perspective that
was in front of us all along, which we couldn’t quite isolate until he presented it to us.”

Many of Christophe’s long time friends attended the event. Celebrating the evening’s book signing were John Paulson, Florence and Douglas von Erb, Supermodel Anne Bezamat, Elisabeth de Cuevas, Victoria Siemans, Carolina von Humboldt, Trish Carroll, Gigi Tang, Alejandro Saralegui, Alexander Lerner, Henry Buhl, Henri de Monclin, and Sonny and Nancy Kotite.

Elisabeth de Cuevas, Henri de Monclin, and Christophe von Hohenberg.
Alexandra Lerner and Henry Buhl.
John Paulson, Sonny Kotite, and Christophe von Hohenberg.
L. to r.: Sabina and Lily Streeter; Sonny Kotite, Miss Trish of Capri, and Sissi Bohlen.
Kelly Graham, John Barman, and Irina Alimanestianu.
L. to r.: Robert Albertson, Carolina von Humboldt, and Miss Trish of Capri; Karen Tompkins and Karolina Alberson.
Nancy Kotite, Sonny Kotite, and Miss Trish of Capri.

For photography lovers, the contemporary gallery M&M Fine Art Gallery in Southampton will be hosting another book signing on July 31st. In addition to the new book, some of Christophe’s work will also be available for sale.

The White Album is published by Glitterati Editions and  is available on Amazon for $50.00. However, if you prefer supporting your local bookshop, it is available in limited copies at Southampton Books, Sag Harbor Books, and East Hampton Books. Here’s a sneak peek …

From photography to dance. Since announcing her retirement from New York City Ballet this Fall season, Principal dancer Lauren Lovette is beginning to lay the groundwork for all that lies ahead — continuing to build upon her strong female choreographic voice that is challenging the culture of the art form.

While she was gearing up for her first full evening program — which is taking place today, Friday, July 16th in the sprawling space of Spring Studios to present three world premieres with friends from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet — dancers and patrons joined Lovette for a final open rehearsal with artists Gilbert Bolden III and Julian MacKay. Audience in attendance included Maria Cristina Anzola, Allyson Tang, William H. Wright II, Judith Hoffman, Francis Schulman, Irene Shen and Leslie Curtis.

Julian MacKay and Lauren Lovette at the open rehearsal for Why It Matters.

Lauren Lovette and Gilbert Bolden III.

The evening of dance, Why It Matters, takes place tonight, July 16th at 6:30 p.m., with a cocktail reception, followed by a 7:30 p.m. performance, and dinner at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are still available at https://whyitmattersdance.com

Fran Schulman and Judith Hoffman.
Lauren Lovette, Irene Shen, Maria Cristina Anzola, and Allyson Tang.
L. to r.: William H. Wright II; Leslie Curtis and Lauren Lovette.
Linda Fell.

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