Debbie’s Week at a Glance: American Women!

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Charles Masson's legendary flowers at the entrance to Majorelle on our way to Margo Langenberg's lunch for 30 in the Club Room.

My eyes are as glazed as the ham gift that just arrived. People are actually inquiring about my health. “How do you do it?” they ask. I’m not sure I am. I am speaking in monosyllables, wearing mismatched shoes and wondering how I can make this column crisp and bright, because I am not. I think next week’s column will be crayon stick figures of what I vaguely remember.

I took in a film, Thursday night, knowing I could be silent for two hours. It was a decided pleasure. 

Anna Wintour, Cinema Society and Gucci presented “American Woman,” which you can see in the comfort of your home, on Netflix. And you should. Sienna Miller, whom many consider one of our most underrated actresses, gives the performance of a lifetime in a touching, achingly realistic film that will make you laugh and cry … and be silent.

Anna Wintour and Emily Blunt.

Sienna and co-star Aaron Paul celebrated afterwards at Omar’s La Boite. Yes, the same Omar (how many Omar’s do we know?) of Lion and Omar at Vaucluse fame. This will undoubtedly be another successful notch on his tiny belt. It’s deep and dark and sexy with pounding disco music, reminiscent of the ’70s, which was probably the last time I partook in disco revelry.

It was fun anyway, tucked into a banquette watching more limber folks like Jill Hennessy, Valesca Guerrand-Hermes, Billy Crudup and Helena Christensen shimmy. Cinema Society’s Andrew Saffir was particularly thrilled. “I have been smitten with Miller women for almost 30 years. I met Sienna’s beautiful mother, Jo Miller when I studied at The Lee Strasberg School in London, were Jo headed the school alongside Anna Strasberg.” Good story. Good genes.

Sienna Miller and Aaron Paul.
Josh Hamilton and Billy Crudup.
Tyler Miller, Helena Christensen, Aaron Paul, and Camilla Staerk.

The next night, Barbie Bancroft hosted a very special celebration for the engagement of her son Cryder to the beautiful and beloved, Elsie Swank. It was especially poignant as Barbie lost her husband Tom only months ago, and made it especially joyous to be together again for a supremely happy reason. There were two and three generations of friends and family, which in my mind, always makes the best party. I like my kid’s friends as much, and sometimes more, than my own.

Fiancées, Cryder Bancroft and Elsie Swank.
Proud poppa Mark Swank, daughter Elsie, with Cryder and his equally proud mom, Barbie Bancroft.
Brothers (can’t you tell?) Cryder and Townsend Bancroft.
Julian Robertson and Barbara Cates.
Harry Seherr-Thoss with Minot and Julia Amory.
Deborah Norville, Elsie Swank, Jamee Gregory, Barbie Bancroft, and Cornelia Bregman.
Diana Colgate, Barbie, and John Colgate.
Mary Ann Lamont and Muffie Murray.
Sydie Lansing, Amanda Haynes-Dale, Barbie, Wilbur Ross, and Hilary Geary Ross.
Cousins Will and Cryder Bancroft. One is getting married. The other … sigh.

Off into the rainy Friday night we tore to also catch our great pals Jay and Anne Hearst McInerney and George Farias’s now legendary Christmas party. Doubles served as the perfect setting for this bigger than ever (or so it felt) riotously fun, holiday party. 

I felt slightly overwhelmed, knowing 90% of the room, liking 85%, and knowing I could spend on average 45 seconds with each guest. Not that they clamored to talk to me, though one friend did ask, “Is this the line to say hello to you?”

George Farias and Jay McInerney, hosts of the Christmas Cheer, along with Anne Hearst.

The breadth of the hosts’ list spans every category of person that makes New York what it is (hear that you Palm Beach sellouts?). The literary/publishing folks like Ken Auletta, Binky Urban, Jay Fielden, and Morgan Entrekin were there. Steve Kroft, Chris Isham, Bill Boggs and Deborah Norville represented TV. Art patrons like Aggie Gund, Beth DeWoody, the Brodsky’s joined fashion folks like Nicole Miller and Zang Toi, and political types included Wilber Ross, Robert Zimmerman and Jim Zirin, with theater’s Pat Birch and William Ivey Long and all encompassing people like The Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker.

Karl Wellner, Deborah Norville, George Farias, Karin Luter, Giulia Caltagirone, and Chris DiLella.
Jennifer Maguire Isham and Christopher Isham.
Jay McInerney, Amanda Urban, and Ken Auletta.
Stacey Hadash, Terry McDonell, Jennet Conant, and Steve Kroft.
L. to r.: Firooz Zahedi and Beth Rudin DeWoody; Bill Boggs and Jane Rothchild.
Ron Delsener and William Ivey Long.
George Farias, Susan Gutfreund, and Robert Zimmerman.

Do you see what I mean? I palpitate, just thinking of the conversations we could have had. And I’m happy I am alive to report this, as I drove to Southampton, afterwards, in that wicked rainstorm, in my filmy old contact lenses, after a glass or two (two is legal) of wine.

How do I survive, you ask again? One little trick is a visit to Upper East Side’s insider’s spa — Dorothy’s Day Spa. Down an unassuming stairway to a basement, lies the Kasbah that is Dorothy’s. And she is its best ad. She’s been at it for over 25 years, but look at her! I will not reveal what I did, but let’s just say if you notice my batting eyelashes more than usual … I have Dot to thank.

L. to r.: Descend into beauty; Dorothy, her own best ad.

Back at it this week, with a record breaking 4 cocktail parties in one night, so many that I didn’t have time to click the camera. On Tuesday, I broke another sad record in only spending 15 minutes at one of the loveliest parties of the season, hosted by Stuart Sundlun, Marta Radzyminski and Diandra Douglas in her glam townhouse. But dinner at The Carlyle to celebrate my oldest, shyest friend’s 70th birthday and our table, #12, beckoned.

L. to r.: Hostesses Diandra Douglas and Marta Radzyminski; The Carlyle’s Charles, flambéing awaying.

Because Dennis Basso is a little Santa-ish, in his generosity and outsized personality, we tucked in for lunch with him in his store/townhouse, in this, the busiest week of the year. We were particularly smitten with his over the top, glam gowns and were figuring out how to pack them for PB, Gstaad and St. Moritz. Ann Barish said hello to actress Sela Ward and said, “You were in my husband’s film, The Fugitive.” I reminded people she was the dead wife, to which Debbie Loeffler added, “I play the dead wife with my husband every night.” Badda boom. Get that girl a mike again.

L. to r.: Debbie Loeffler, Ann Barish, and Mary Snow; Sela Ward.
L. to r.: Dennis Basso and his bevy; Candace Bushnell, characteristically shy.

My laptop is currently propped up on my tum, which has just been filled with Majorelle’s delectables thanks to our wonderful hostess, Margo Langenberg. She is the rare New York lady for whom no one has anything but praise. This is a tough town, and that is saying something. She gathered 30-ish of us in The Club Room, which Charles Masson tells me has been booked for private parties every day this season. His legendary flowers sprouted down the length of the table.

All, well most, of us at table and on time.

I was in conversational heaven, in between Geoffrey Bradfield, off to his native Africa for Christmas, and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia who is busy, busy, busy, working on his book about royal jewels and more (out next September), and his new line of wedding rings for Swarovski … so every girl can be a princess.

L. to r.: Glittering hostess Margo and glittering Majorelle tree.
Brian Stewart, Audrey Gruss, geoffrey Bradfield and Stephanie Krieger
L. to r.: Robert Zimmerman and Victoria Wyman; Majorelle’s regal, Hassan.
Prince Dimitri alongside his button, featuring one of his royal relatives.
L. to r.: Christopher Mason in his own design, African print shirt; Daisy Soros.

Photographs by Debbie Bancroft Patrick McMullan (Cinema Society, McInerney/Farias).

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