Couture & More

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Bottom row, l. to r.: Alexandra Penney, Sima Ghadamian, Eleanora Kennedy, Kathy Prounis, Audrey Gruss. Standing, l. to r.: Anna Kennedy, Valerie Steele, Melanie Holland, Olivia Martin, Amy Hoadley at The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT's Third Annual Winter Luncheon.

The Couture Council is a membership group that supports The Museum at FIT, the only museum in New York City that focuses exclusively on the art of fashion. Couture Council members receive invitations to private events – such as a visit on April 2 with supermodel, Veronica Webb, to view some of the Azzedine Alaїa fashions in the collection of The Museum at FIT.

Veronica Webb was a 19-year-old fashion model when she first met Azzedine Alaїa in Paris. “He thought I was Tunisian, so he started speaking to me in Arabic. Then he switched to French, which I also didn’t know,” she recalled. “Finally, he spoke to me in fashion – and we understood each other.” She has donated a number of Alaїa’s fashions to the Museum at FIT.

Veronica Webb, Ann Coppinger, and Dr. Valerie Steele

Together with Dr. Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, Veronica Webb presented fashions including a python-skin ensemble that Ms. Webb had donated to the museum, a body-worshipping green evening gown, and a form-fitting black suit with leopard-print body and boots, which was a gift from Azzedine Alaїa, after he made a research trip to the museum. In attendance were Couture Council members such as Anna Brusco, Karen Eckhoff, Joele Frank, Sharon Hurowitz, Adnan Ege Kutay, Dr. Shirley Madhere, Lisa Malitz, Darcy Rigas, Hannah Rokes, Clémence von Mueffling, Marie Smart, and Christine Smith and a few of their guests. 

The Museum at FIT is located on 7th Avenue and West 27th Street. It is open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 8 pm, and Saturday, 10-5. To join the Couture Council, visit

L. to r.: Hannah Rokes; Marie Smart and Christine Smith; Adnan Ege Kutay.
Veronica Webb, Karen Eckhoff, and Darcy Rigas
L. to r.: Clemence von Mueffling and friend; Dr. Shirley Madhere.
L. to r.: Veronica Webb and Dr. Valerie Steele; Darcy Rigas.
Azzedine Alaїa fashions in the collection of The Museum at FIT

And just a couple weeks earlier, The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT held their Third Annual Winter Luncheon at Avra Madison Estiatorio. After a lovely Greek lunch, guests listened to an insightful conversation between Roopal Patel, SVP Fashion Director, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of The Museum at FIT.

Dr. Steele asked about Ms. Patel’s responsibilities at Saks, what luxury means today, how she and her team are assessing a month’s worth of fashion shows, and what the passing of the great Karl Lagerfeld means to the fashion world.

Dr. Valerie Steele, Roopal Patel, and Kathy Reilly

There were approximately 120 guests, including Kathy Reilly, this year’s Winter Luncheon Chair, as well as Couture Council Board members Jane E. DeFlorio, Angela Dotson, Violet Gross, Audrey Gruss, Marjorie R. Harris, Carole Divet Harting, Yaz Hernández, Eleanora Kennedy, Lisa Klein, Julie Macklowe, Lara Meiland-Shaw, Elizabeth Musmanno, Liz Peek, Kathy Prounis, Emilie Rubinfeld, Jean Shafiroff, and notable guests, such as Susan Gutfreund, Patricia Shiah, and Tom Gold.

The event was sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue and raised about $65,000 for The Museum at FIT. Over the course of the lunch, four people joined the Couture Council, tempted by the promise of a private tour of the Museum’s “closet” with Dr. Steele. Currently on view at the Museum are Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT (through April 20) and Fabric in Fashion (through May 11). MFIT is located on 7th Avenue and West 27th Street and is open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 8 pm and Saturday, 10-5.

Susan Gutfreund and Gordon Kendall
L. to r.: Lauren Sorrel and Jane E. DeFlorio; Luncheon Chair Kathy Reilly.
Carole Divet Harting, Nina Whitman, and Angela Dotson
Melanie Holland, Elizabeth Musmanno, and Amy Hoadley
Brent Winston, PJ Pascual, Kara Ross, Jean Shafiroff, Alisa Swidler, Liz Peek, Yaz Hernandez, and Marjorie R. Harris
Violet Gross, Julie Macklowe, and Lisa Klein
L. to r.: Lara Meiland-Shaw and Helene Feldman; Marilyn Kirschner and Sharon Hurowitz.
Mary Max, Jean Shafiroff, Patricia Shiah, and Emilie Rubinfeld

Ann and Bill Nitze recently opened their Georgetown house for a private chamber concert with The Knights.  Friends and neighbors including Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, Alexandra de Borchgrave, Ambassador and Mrs. Walter Cutler, Jane Cafritz, Diane and Roland Flamini, and The Honorable John McComber came for cocktails and music by the orchestra’s founders, brothers Colin Jacobsen on violin and Eric Jacobsen on cello, with Steven Beck on piano.

The hour-long program of Händel, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, Chen Yi, plus a short composition by Colin Jacobsen, was punctuated by liberal wine and elegant hors d’oeuvres.  It came the night before the full orchestra played two sold-out concerts at Washington’s jewel, Dumbarton Oaks.  A gift to Harvard from Mildred and Robert Bliss, when they left Dumbarton Oaks, the family moved to 1537 28th Street, N.W., now the Nitze home.

The Nitze living room

Ann Nitz introduced the program, saying, “you can’t possibly hear them tomorrow or Monday as there isn’t a ticket left. Aren’t we lucky to have them here for just us!”  The Knights’ conductor Colin Jacobson explained that they just returned from a four-country European tour, and soon to play Carnegie Hall:  “This chamber concert is not about trying to offer in miniature the experience of those 800 or 2,000 seat halls.  The Knights’ favorite is to play intimately, like tonight, and to make those larger concerts like this one, which is just for you.”

The Knights are a young Brooklyn orchestra dedicated to transforming the concert experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. The Knights engage with contemporary culture by honoring the classical tradition with a passion for musical discovery.  Raised in a family immersed in music; both of their parents played with The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.  Describing The Knights, The Washington Post wrote, “it is a joy to see such deeply committed music-making.”

Colin Jacobsen and Eric Jacobsen

May 13th is The Knights annual benefit in New York including a special guest performance by pianist Inon Barnatan.  On June 18th, The Knights open the 2019 Naumburg Orchestral Series in NYC’s Central Park. On August 15th, The Knights  return to the Tanglewood Music Festival with violinist Gil Shaham. Their summer closes at the prestigious Ravinia Festival’s Pavilion stage with a remounting of their lauded original production of Candide.  For more information see:

Ann Nitze and The Honorable John Macomber
Bill Nitze and Deborah Cortesi
Bruce Ross-Larsen, Shelly Ross-Larsen, Jane Cafritz, and Eric Jacobsen
Bobbie Brewester
Bob Hamady and Mary La Clair
Bill Nitze, Willi Lewis, and Finley Lewis
Ann Nitze and Kevin Chaffee
Colin Jacobsen, Alexandra de Bordegrave, Diane Flamine, and Eric Jacobsen
Steven Beck
William Cates and Kim Curtis
Nora Camron and Ambassador C. Boyden Gray
Ingola Hodges, Willi Lewis, and Martha Chapin

Photographs by Annie Watt (Couture Council)

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