Tuesday, November 17, 2020. It was partly cloudy yesterday, with temps in the low 50s and “Excellent Air Quality.” It was cool enough that you’d be more comfortable in a jacket or a sweater. It seems like we’ve been having unseasonably warmer weather this November.
Change in the Weather, Change in the sea. On another kind of Monday even just a year ago, I’d have been out of the house, on to luncheon probably at Michael’s in midtown and dressed for cooler weather (it was in the mid-40s at this time last year – I looked it up), interviewing or planning the day ahead. This Monday I never ventured further than Second Avenue and 82nd Street (twice) to get a couple of my housemates washed and groomed (at Groomingdale’s).
In the meantime, this being the season for the emergence of the charities and philanthropies on the scene (formerly known as the “social scene”), everyone is starting to adjust. Did it kill the activities? In hotel ballrooms with full orchestra, four-course dinner with wines and maybe champagne? And by the end of the interesting evening the philanthropists could tally up their progress in dollars and cents. Millions and millions in not a few cases. These past couple of decades where I’ve been watching the activity, the totals are astounding in some cases. And all for some wonderful causes solving problems; healing, curing, educating, care-taking and generally reminding us of what’s possible if you put your mind (and some of your assets) to a solution, or a cure.
We haven’t seen that this year and everybody knows why. Except the creative thinkers have already solved at least part of the problem, as well as coming up with some healthy numbers — by and with Zoom. The new citadel of the “virtual” 21st century outing. It’s just beginning in terms of possibilities for attracting interest and raising funds. Unlike the champagne galas at the Plaza, stuck back in your own backyard and “watching” the gala on a screen, it has opened up the broader audience and the possibilities.
Last week I had a phone conversation with Elizabeth Stribling about the French Heritage Society’s upcoming Virtual Black & Red Ball. This year they’re honoring “virtually” (of course), Robert Couturier, the very well known and highly successful international interior designer and architect. Robert is thoroughly French, born and bred, but he lives and runs his business here in New York, along with a house in Litchfield County. He will be introduced by the Consul General of France in New York, Jeremie Robert.
Libba, as Mrs. Stribling is known to her many friends and associates, is a prominent New Yorker who built a great real estate brokerage company which is now part of Compass, and run by her daughter. Libba is a lifelong Francophile. I think it started in 1973 when she was a young woman and first married, and they went to France on the honeymoon. Besides her husband, France was love at first sight for her. Afterwards they made frequent trips when possible to get to know all of France. In those early times, Libba even met Julia Child and took cooking lessons from Simone Bech who was Julia Child’s teacher and co-author of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
I think it was through Brendan Gill, the writer, an aficionado of the work of the French Heritage Society, who introduced the organization to Libba. The Society’s work is one of restoration and preservation — what Libba refers to as a bridge from the past to the future, and a source of inspiration for the generations coming along. Now she and her second husband Guy Robinson (she was widowed a number of years ago before marrying Guy).
The Black & Red Ball will take place this Thursday, November 19th at 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Libba told me we’d get to have a sneak peak inside “the magnificent home” of Robert Couturier, along with a lively conversation “surrounded by his decorative treasures.” In addition to the visit at M. Couturier’s home, there will be fascinating interviews with special guests both here in the U.S. and in France, and you’ll have the opportunity to interact personally with your fellow supporters in the festive “virtual reception rooms.” Funds raised will help FHS raise critical funds in support of its mission during this unprecedented year.
I’ll be watching! Although I don’t know about the “Black & Red Attire” encouraged on the invitation. To purchase tickets to the Virtual Black & Red Ball, go to their website: www.fhsgala.org.