Debbie’s Week at a Glance: Merriment and Matrimony

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Family toasts at the engagement celebration for Lily Merrill and Frèdèrik Châtillon at Doubles.

At this point in the mosh pit of too much merriment, I get haggard and a little grumpy. Enter son, Will, in from L.A. just in time to revive my spirits and make everything that much more fun. And with him, comes my daughter Serena, who finds family more appealing when he’s around.

Before this Cleaver family moment began, though, I indulged in some selfish, spoiling adult cheer. First off was martini’s, Mont Blanc (the cherished chestnut dessert) and a cigar (never lit), at Le Grenouille.


Le Grenouille’s ample, perfectly chilled, perfectly dry martini, accompanied by ballast and blooms.

Philippe Masson, the current proprietor is very different than his brother Charles Masson, famously at Majorelle. While Charles purrs and offers champagne in front of his delicate flower arrangements, Philippe winks, and explains that the inspiration for his bolder, but beautiful winter blooms-and-balls arrangement, came from a special cigar.

Intrigued, I said I’d like to try said cigar. And so, along with my Mont Blanc (served only at Christmas) came a long crisp, probably very expensive cigar, in a Le G envelope. It remained unlit, but served as an Instagramable prop (not mine, but I sing for my supper), and Elke Gazzara — widow of the late and great actor Ben who was dining to our right, complained not. But then again, she was dining with her pooch, which we whole-heartedly, didn’t mind.


The cigar. The inspiration.
I do entertain myself. Here with my new good habit and William Featherby.
L. to r.: LeG’s Jean Pierre. He brings me Christmas chicken, Mont Blanc and Martinis. I love him; Elke Gazzara, glam w equally glam pooch.
Mont Blanc. Once a year, lusted after the other 364.

I suppose I should’ve had the kids with me at the 21 Club Salvation Army lunch, but I was a guest. The room was filled with families, the legendary Army band, led by one of the founders’ grand daughter, Deborah Evans; chicken curry, and many varied pitches of fa-la-la-la-la.


’21’. Some things never change.
Ode to imbibing.
The Salvation Army’s glorious troupe.

What could be more joyous, especially at Christmas, than an engagement celebration? Monique Merrill and Hillie Mahoney feted Lily Merrill their daughter, and grand, respectively, and her fiancée, Frédéric Châtillon at a cocktail — where else — Doubles. You can tell by the many diacritics over Fred’s name that he is very French. Like hundreds of years French. This made German Grandmother and Francophile mum very happy.

Hillie toasted them and said, “Lily left Trinity College for the American College in France. Hmmmm, Hartford or Paris. What would you pick?” And so, 61/2 years ago, Lily met Fred, and the rest is romantic history. While they live here now, I suspect France is in their future, as will be the wedding  though Hillie’s chateau at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne is in the running.

Don’t we wish we all had grandmas with chateaux?


L. to r.: The affianced, Lily Merrill and Frèdèrik Châtillon; Co-hostess and proud grandmother, Hillie Mahoney.
Proud Mom, co-hostess, Monique Merrill and Lily.

Monique toasted with a tender story of Lily’s first visit to Doubles. Understandably cranky, then-5 month old Lily, was inconsolable during the family dinner in a thankfully, private dining room. In swooped Wendy Carduner, who brought Lily to her office and returned her 2 ½ hours later — sleeping well, like a baby.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned this. She is now off duty, a young mum! The rooms was filled with generations of pals of theirs — Piros, Kirkpatricks, Girouxs, Menges and yes, Bancrofts. Lily is the first to go in her friends group, and has the bar high for the loving, solid exciting life we wish for all of our kids.


Brother Taylor and Serena Menges.
My Will (Bancroft), Owen Melhado, and Henry Hoffstot.
Will and the Southampton girls, Larkin Bailey, Quinn Jackson, and Molly Kirkpatrick.
Marion and daughter Merritt Piro.
Roger Mack and Jacqueline Segura.
My own Serena, Will and Auntie Monique.
Beautiful couple. She’s not short. He’s very tall.

I left the young folks to go up to Jeff Sharp, Doug Steinbrech and Chris Brown’s annual Christmas cocktail in Chris’s  Fifth Avenue pad. Apparently no one said no this year. The room was filled with their fun mix of pals, even at my late arrival time. And when I exited at 9, technically the end, guests were still surging in. Those boys have it covered — finance, publishing, entertainment and plastic surgery. What else is there?


Onto Jeff Sharp and Doug Steinbrech’s, here with Vicky Ward. Chris Brown hosted too, but didn’t get a shot!
L. to r.: Producer Eric Falkenstein. You’d smile too, if you were producing Moulin Rouge and Mockingbird; Happy Anniversary Gerry and beautiful wife Liz. Happy 50th Anniversary!
New editor L’Officiel, Stefano Tonchi.
Robert Zimmerman, Gerry Byrne, and Peter Brown — I had to force Peter to pose.

I segued from engagement glee and Christmas cheer to … Steve Bannon? I was not alone in finding The Common Good’s invitation to hear him being interviewed by CNN’s John Avlon, oddly irresistible. After all the sticky toffee pudding, it’s time for some brittle. He called us elitists and said he was looking forward to being challenged. And he was, sort of. In a Fifth Avenue kind of way (where we nestled at Richard Cohen’s elitist aerie).


The packed room.
Gracious host, Richard Cohen.
Close, but no cigar.

The Common Good’s founder and Director, Patricia Duff, commented after the small dinner that followed. “He is so smart, but can talk in circles. He distracts with brilliance and has a certain kind of smart charm.”


L. to r.: CNN’s John Avlon and The Common Good’s Patricia Duff; Kathy Sloane, who brought us Mr. Bannon.
L. to r.: Politically astute, Boykin Curry; Stuart Sundlun.
Francine LeFrak and Rick Friedberg.

Happy Christmas is coming to all, and to all a good night.


Just love this house and mailbox marked ’North Pole’. I want to be their friend.

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