As the holiday season approaches

Featured image
John Demsey and Cornelia Guest's Holiday Fete in full swing.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019.  One week to Christmas Eve. It was cold and grey in New York yesterday. Temps in the mid-30s and rain and/or snow (depending on the hour).

As the holiday approaches and moves to the New Year, the activities increase both privately and publicly. Last Thursday, December 12th, Harry Benson and his wife Gigi were joined by more than 400 friends and photography fans for the opening of Harry Benson Behind the Scenes at the Staley-Wise Gallery in Soho. 

People were surprised by the 92 photographs in the exhibit, taken between 1969 and 2007 as most had not been printed before, such as the behind-the-scene fashion photographs that Harry took for French Vogue and LIFE magazine.  Several of the guests that night were subjects of the photographs, with their pictures on the wall including Mary McFadden, Kirat Young, Barbara de Portago and Charlotte Ronson. 

Enjoying the celebration with owners Etheleen Staley and Taki Wise and Gallery Director George Kocis were Harry’s daughter Tessa with husband Tucker Tooley and son Tucker; also Harry’s son-in-law Michael Landes; as well as Jonathan and Eileen Otto, Beth Rudin de Woody with her husband, photographer Firooz Zahedi; Cathy Kaplan, president of the Aperture Foundation; Lynn and Genevieve Crystal, Eleanora Kennedy, Sue Bloomberg, Edgar Batista, Entertainment Weekly Editor J.D. Heyman; Ursula Striker, Ellen Saltzman, Elizabeth Biondi, Sallie Lewis Longoria, Nancy Paulsen, VF’s David Friend, former editor of LIFE, TIME and PEOPLE magazines, James R. Gaines; Jonathan Delano, Neil Leifer, and David Burnett; Donna Olsham, Pete Bonventre, Nate Reuss, Ben Havrilak, Luke Tricomi, Chiara de Rege, Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss, CeCe and Lee Black, Leigh Curry, James Koutoulas, Dick Miles and Pat Whitaker who flew in from St. Louis for the party, Joyce and Jim Seymore, Stephen Jacoby, Royce Pinkwater, Mary Hilliard, Sharon Hoge, and Aiden McDougall. You get the picture.

The exhibit runs thru January 23rd. Staley-Wise is located at 100 Crosby Street, #305,  Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm.

Etheleen Staley, Harry Benson, and Taki Wise.
Donna Olsham, Harry, David Friend, Jim Gaines, and Pete Bonventre.
Beth DeWoody, Tucker and Tessa Tooley, Gigi Benson, and Firooz Zahedi.
Charlotte Ronson, Nate Ruess, and Michael Landes.
Barbara de Portago next to costumes she designed for Brooke Shields.
Dick Miles, Gigi, and Pat Whitaker.
Firooz Zahedi, James Seymore, Harry, and Joyce Seymore.
Gigi and Harry, with Sue Bloomberg.
L. to r.: Beth DeWoody and Harry; Tucker Benson Tooley.
Ursula Striker, Chiara de Rege, and Tucker Tooley.
Tessa Benson Tooley and Sallie Lewis Longoria.
Susan White, Harry, Jimmy Walsh, and Gaspar Tringale-White.

Stephen Jacoby, Royce Pinkwater, Gigi & Harry, and J.D. Heyman.
Mary McFadden next to her Benson portrait.
Michael Landes, with Lynn and Geneivieve Crystal.
Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss.
Lou Desiderio, Harry, and Cece Black.
Leigh Curry, Gigi, and Eleanora Kennedy.
Kirat Young, Edgar Batista, Gigi, Taki Wise, and Mary McFadden.
Kirat Young next to her portrait.
John and Sue Sabel, with Harry.
Jill Troise, Eileen Otto, and Kelley Davis.
Jonathan and Eileen Otto with Harry.
Joyce and James Seymore, Pete Bonventre, and Harry.
Harry, with Dr. Paul Alberts and Tessa Benson Tooley.
Harry, with Ann King.
Gigi, Stephen Jacoby, Royce Pinkwater, and Harry.
Gigi, Elizabeth Biondi, and Joel Hecker.

Last Wednesday night John Demsey and Cornelia Guest hosted their annual Holiday cocktail reception at the Demsey residence. Lots and lots of people moving through the happy throng with everyone glad to be there.

Hostess with the mostess, Cornelia Guest.
William Lauder and John Demsey.
Emilie Sydney-Smith, Stephen Strick, and Pierre Wulff.
L. to r.: Amy Fine Collins and Frederic Malle; Will Cotton.
James Dunning and Susan Magrino.
L. to r.: Michael Avedon; Muriel Brandolini and Jennifer Creel.
Joseph O. Tobin.
L. to r.: Alina Cho, Geraldo Rivera, and Kim Cho; Martha Stewart.
Liliana Cavendish, Emily Smith, and Jay McInerney.
L. to r.: Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton Rothschild; Kelly Bensimon.
Rosanna Scotto.
L. to r.: Brooke Shields and John Demsey; Harry and Laura Slatkin.
Susan Silver and  John Horan.
L. to r.: Alex Papachristidis and Martha Kramer; Alison Mazzola and Caroline Berthet.

Every year my friends and readers Penny and Adam Bianchi out there in Montecito, send me a photo of a dog from the Lange Foundation an animal shelter out in West L.A. I love these cards. This year’s angel/poster boy is Travis and his story we’re repeating here. The point is RESCUE — besides giving a home and a life to a loving creature. 

The following is a letter about Travis’ life, enclosed with the photo from Gillian Lange:

December 2019

Dear David,

We had been trying to “rescue” Travis since 2010. He belonged to the owner of the horse boarding stable across the road from our St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary. When we first met Travis he had a mate … a beautiful female Golden Retriever. The owner bred them twice a year to make some extra money.

No matter how hot or how cold, the two were kept in an open pen on sand behind the stable. At night they were allowed to run loose, and we always worried they would fall victim to a coyote or mountain lion.

His mate disappeared two years ago. We never did find out what happened. But shortly thereafter Travis would always be lying in front of our kennel in the morning. We would let him spend the day in our temperature controlled building.

His owner would always stagger over at the end of the day to take him home. “I need a watchdog at night,” he would explain. We gave up trying to obtain ownership. “Wouldn’t sell him if you gave me 100 cases of Jack Daniels,” he would say.

Early this year Mike lost his long term battle with whiskey, and the morning he passed away we brought his 7 skinny horses over to St. Bonnie’s. And of course we brought Travis.

He was now 11 years old. He deserved a great home in his golden years but who would want an arthritic 11-year-old Golden?

I think we had more applications to adopt him than any other dog we ever had! And, we made the right choice.

Lange Foundation received a Holiday Gift of Life donation in your honor from Penny and Adam Bianchi which we will use to turn another dog’s life around.

I wish you a Happy Holidays!


Gillian Lange

Photographs by Jonathan Delano (Harry Benson); Neil Rasmus/ (Demsey/Guest)

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