While many ran to Manhattan for Fashion Week, the US Open and the Met Gala, we were still thinking about the summer. Where did it go? We only know where we went to kiss it goodbye: The VIP tent at the Hamptons Classic Grand Prix. There, the equestrian set watch the jumpers and the social set watch each other. Fueled by lobster rolls and Veuve Cliquot, we walked around, sat around and even watched Alex Matz win.
Also watching: Mayor Bloomberg and Diana Taylor, commandeering their ringside center table. He’s there to support daughter Georgina Bloomberg, a world class equestrian who placed first in two open jumper competitions that week. His constant support, Taylor, remains constant in her Classic wardrobe. We find it reassuring.
A financial powerhouse in her own right, Taylor served as the New York Superintendent of Banks, chief advisor on finance and housing issues in the Pataki Administration, chief financial officer of the Long Island Power, managing director at Wolfensohn Fund Management, and in a slew of Wall Street positions. To be with her is to be “woke.” Those who say otherwise need to “get over it.”
With her tall, lithe figure and unerring taste, Taylor has hit Vanity Fair‘s International Best Dressed List. She has patrician good looks, wears little make-up and has the same face she was born with. She also often wears the same clothes to the Classic. One year, when she repeated the exact same outfit, the Post devoted a third of a page to take her to task.
This year, she repeated a long knit skirt. Does she get teased? we teased. “They say I can’t believe you’re wearing the same thing two years in a row,” she laughs. “But, why not? If it works, wear it! I’ve worn this hat for the last 20 years. But, I LOVE it! Why throw it away?” She does NOT know the designer. “I bought it at a charity auction for the church,” she said, “like 25 years ago. I might have to retire it now, because it’s looking a little used. But, maybe I’ll get one more year.” Billionaires: They’re just like us.
When Taylor was New York City’s First Lady, she told us about time-saving, private shopping sessions with favorite designers. “During Covid,” she told us, “I was looking at my closet and saying, ‘When am I ever going to wear these things again?’ I added a couple of things, but not very much. I’m feeling for the fashion industry right now, but I think they are changing as we’ve changed: how we dress, how we go to the office and how we go to events, which we haven’t been doing. Hopefully it’ll all come back.”
What has she been doing the past year-and-a-half? “I sit on a bunch of boards,” Taylor continued. “I chair three organizations right now, the nonprofit ACCION micro finance financial inclusion, which I’ve been doing for a long time and Hot Bread Kitchen, which is employment training for women. I was just made Chair of the New York City Ballet which I am absolutely thrilled about.” No, she has never been a dancer. Yes, she gets asked all the time.
Like everyone else, she and Bloomberg have been spending more time in their Hamptons home. Her days? “I get up. I walk the dogs. I work. Maybe play a little golf with my …” “With your boyfriend?” I deadpan. She refuses to label their relationship, and she laughs out loud. “Yes.” What’s he up to? “He’s working with his company, spending a lot of time on the environment and public health.” As photographers gathered around him, Bloomberg motioned for her. She smiled sweetly, “I gotta go join my guy.”
We caught up with Bloomberg a little later. This is a man who, as they say, puts his money where his mouth is — for his city, his country and the world. Don’t tell him there’s an exodus to Florida! “That’s not true,” he bristles. “There are a handful of people leaving. There are a lot more moving in than moving out. Just go ask any real estate agent and they will tell you that’s ridiculous. There are bidding wars!”
Remembering how it was under Bloomberg, and how it is eight years later, we asked for his advice to Eric Adams. “We have a lot of people helping him, working with him and he’s going to be a good mayor,” Bloomberg answered. “And we need a good mayor. I think the public elected the right person. He’s hopefully going to do something about crime and homelessness. The problem, after that, is the economy. But, if you don’t fix those two things then you can’t do anything else. You won’t have a tax base and you won’t have people.”
With those hopeful words, we were ready to enjoy more of the glamour of the Grand Prix. Tables were dressed as beautifully as the women negotiating air kisses under wide-brimmed hats. Donna Karan had decorated the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital table, hosted by Bob Chaloner and Mirella Camaron-Reilly. Aida Turturro (who played Janice Soprano), Margo and James Nederlander, Judy Giuliani, Jean and Martin Shafiroff were there as well.
There was a beautiful bronze sculpture in the middle, one of the last things Stephan Weiss, Karan’s late artist/sculptor husband created, before being felled by lung cancer, 20 years ago. “And my granddaughter is a major rider,” she told us, “so the horse show means a lot to me. She’s back at the University of Miami now, to be near Wellington.”
Patty Raynes, Tinka Topping, Brooke Shields, Sailor Cook and Kelly Bensimon were among the crowd.
Marsia Holzer is another Wellington woman with a notable horse sculpture at her table. A former equestrian/rock star clothing designer/Warhol pal, and more, Holzer creates her own furniture line and makes wooden animal sculptures with chain saws. She rode in the Adult Amateur Hunting Division circuit for 25 years, even winning the national horse show. “I had a great horse,” Marsia likes to say.
She shares a yearly table, behind Bloomberg’s, with financier Betsy Battle. “I did these horse sculptures in reclaimed walnut and bronze,” she told me. “I got branches cut from my hedges in the Hamptons to make it look like the horses were walking through them. We wanted it all to be very Hamptony, and laid-back. And there are no flowers. Betsy had the idea of doing the lunchboxes, so I did collages on them, which is my thing. It’s an adult lunchbox, with rosé inside. If it were the old days, it could’ve had xanax, cocaine and two sleeping pills!”
If it was the “old days,” Caterer Christopher Robbins could’ve used some of the above. Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs is the Hamptons go-to and the official VIP Caterer for the Classic since 1995. “We have lobster rolls, fried chicken, fillet mignon, grilled salmon, steak and chicken brochettes, different salads, pasta with green beans, peas and pesto and a fabulous peach tart,” Robbins said, handing me a slice. The cookies were yummy, too.
He told us he couldn’t keep up with the demands of the season. During quarantine, half of his core staff — the ones who could helm parties on their own — found other things to do and places to live. Then, bingo, the jobs started flying in. “Everyone was entertaining at home,” he said, “dinner parties for 20-30, cocktail parties for 60-70. We moved 34 weddings from last year, which took up every weekend. We had to turn down a fortune because I didn’t have the captains to handle it.”
We feel your pain. For love or money, there simply are not enough service providers for this bulging population’s extensive needs. Well, maybe for love: the friend who had an affair with her handyman remains, shall we say, well-served.
Unlike his summer, Christopher said the Classic this year, “had a more relaxed feel to it. It was less crowded, and people stayed in their little bubbles. There’s a high vaccination rate out here and people are being careful, so it feels safer. I think people were really enjoying lunch and I haven’t seen that in a while!” “Enjoying lunch”: that’s the caterering critique!
Might as well enjoy it. Because when the winners leave the ring, the summer season is over. Finito. Really, truly and wistfully gone.
Some stay on. Broadway producer Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley left that night. They’ll return after the 2022 Tony’s. Four nights later, we saw Bonnie in New York, at Ann Van Ness’ party for Carole Bellidora.
Many say September is the best month in the Hamptons. Whatever. I could use the rest. Time to fill the yard with Mums and put my floral dresses away til Florida. There were so many parties and so little time, that we still have a few more summer stories to share … and, ahhh, Indian Summer.
Photographs by Rob Rich.