Having recently traveled to LA — where neither indoor nor outdoor dining was an option — I was happy to return to Palm Beach, where (as it has been regularly noted) we are open for business and where the mood continues to be upbeat and positive.
Masks are required in public — except while dining — and most people are observant, except when taking the occasional photograph. Many also still prefer to dine outside and restaurants with outdoor space like Swifty’s Pool, Sant Ambroeus, Renato’s, Bice, Pizza Al Fresco and Bricktops are booked solid every night. So, everyone was thrilled when Le Bilboquet Palm Beach opened on Worth Avenue.
Swifty’s Pool at The Colony Hotel continues to be one of this season’s favorites and New Yorker Jean Shafiroff hosted a socially distanced luncheon to raise awareness and funds for American Humane — the country’s first national humane organization and the first to serve animals in need of rescue, shelter or protection.
Upon arrival, guests were offered margaritas in mini Patron bottles with paper straws courtesy of food conceptualist Peter Callahan, a contributing editor for Martha Stewart Weddings, and author of two cookbooks, Bite by Bite (Clarkson Potter, 2011) and Party Food (Clarkson Potter, 2017), of which guests also received copies.
After a brief introduction, Robin R. Ganzert, PhD., President & CEO at American Humane, spoke about the challenges the charity has faced during this time and its goals for the year ahead.
Needless-to-say, the Palm Beach real estate market has been “on fire”, since March of 2020 and continues thus far in 2021. The sales volume for single family homes on the Island exceeded $2.3 billion in 2020 (yes, billion), almost doubling sales volume from 2019, which had been the strongest year on record. This, all according to Jim McCann of Premier Estate Properties. “And there are roughly 2,500 single family homes on Palm Beach — and as of this week, just under 60 are listed for sale,” he added.
But, thanks in part to Covid, Palm Beach is not just for retirees anymore. And as part of his Conversations on Style series of interviews at the Society of the Four Arts, Steven Stolman invited marketing and social media savant Michael Gregson Reinert to explore the current “Youthquake” happening in Palm Beach. The term, coined in the early 1960s by the legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland, was envisioned to explain societal shifts in fashion, music and lifestyle, along with those responsible for those developments, the “Youthquakers,” as Vreeland referred to them.
Decade by decade, Reinert showed examples of Palm Beach’s movers, shakers and influencers. Not surprisingly, transcending the more than a half-century being discussed, one individual remained constant in her ability to not only set trends but inspire others to think outside of the box and live more meaningful, inclusive lives.
One guess? Lilly Pulitzer, of course!
The Art scene is also “on fire” in Palm Beach. Larry Shar of Lowy Art Restoration and Custom Framing in New York just opened a pop-up shop on Peruvian Avenue. Upon conversation with Larry and his pal Ron Cavalier of the Cavalier Galleries, we learned that New York-based artist Guy Stanley Philoche co-hosted a three-day silent auction to benefit Opportunity Early Childhood Education and Family Center.
Just One of Those Days, a mixed medium painting worth upwards of $17,500 was on display at his gallery on Worth Avenue. The event resulted in a generous donation by Felicia Taylor to Opportunity Inc., who suggested the painting be given to the Early Learning Center. “Snoopy belongs with the kids,” she said.
In addition to Taylor, collectors and supporters who attended included executive director of Opportunity Inc., Alice Eger; board members Jennifer Lazarra and Adriana Burger; Kim Heirston, Elizabeth Thompson, Bill Meyer and Tiffany Bufton, Scott Snyder, Christopher Stewart, Yaz Hernandez, Lisa Stella, and L.C. King.
“Art saved my life, I owe it a debt I’ll never be able to repay,” said Philoche. “I believe it’s imperative to give-back to my community whenever possible, and that started when I sold my first painting 20+ years ago. Back then, I vowed that whenever I sell a painting, I would purchase a painting to support fellow artists. It’s always been my philosophy to give back to my community and those in need, and when this opportunity arose and it was in support of our next generation of dreamers, it was a no-brainer.”
Philoche has been in the news recently for his shout-out to fellow emerging and local artists that he will purchase as much artwork as possible during the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, with the support of his collectors, Philoche has purchased more than $65,000 worth of art from artists around the globe including: Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Kansas City, MO; London, UK; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; New York, NY; Sydney, AU and more.
Along with art, of course, comes fashion, and designer Alvin Valley, aka “The King of Pants,” opened a new atelier concept in the historic area of Palm Beach on Worth Avenue located on Via Mizner above Aerin Lauder’s shop. Valley’s Palm Beach opening follows his recent Southampton boutique, which permanently opened last summer, in the heart of the village anchored by a series of pop-ups across the country including in LA at Sunset Tower.
A percentage of sales from opening day benefitted the Duke Nelson Memorial Scholarship — a Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation endowment created by Palm Beachers in memory of Duke Nelson who recently passed away tragically and who hoped to inspire, teach and care for others like him who struggled to overcome all odds.
“I feel at home in Palm Beach,” said Valley, “I am excited to open my second location and be where my clients are — in Palm Beach, an annex to New York City. And I immediately jumped on the opportunity when my friend Maribel Alvarez asked me to help reach the endowment’s goal to make this particular scholarship a reality for 2021 graduate candidates of the Dreyfoos School of the Arts.”
The by-invitation celebration took place over four hours to safely accommodate more than 60 guests, many of whom made the two-hour drive from Miami to welcome Alvin. Among the guests were Josephine and Peter Callahan, Titina Penzini, Maria Buccelatti, Bettina Anderson, Whitney Schott, Marzia Precoda, Omar Hernandez, Jessica Stark, Anne Day, Karen Klopp, Pamela Taylor Yates, Felicia Taylor, Yaz Hernandez, Catherine Carey, Nathalie Leeds and Muffy Savoia.
Designed in collaboration with Dallas-born Interior Designer Danielle Rollins, the store features dramatic murals and wallpaper by Mitchell Black, and lighting by Couture lamps, and evokes a feeling of effortless Palm Beach glamour.
It is inevitable that Palm Beach will change. Some are even calling it “Hamptons South” (there is certainly more honking than I remember!), but hopefully with an infusion of more youth, art and fashion, Palm Beach will continue to evolve in a positive way. Better healthcare facilities and greater diversity are just two of the areas in which we can see Palm Beach benefitting. Time will tell. In the meantime, all eyes are on Palm Beach.