Happenings On the Bench and Under the Stars

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Finding solace in Central Park. Photo: JH.

Thursday, May 16, 2024. Another one of those mainly cloudy, often rainy Spring days in New York. With the weatherman predicting another one of those “mostly cloudy” days but with temps forecast into the mid-70s.

Nevertheless, t’is the season to celebrate the early warm and sunny seasons of the New Year. And it’s a busy one. Just this week alone … the Breast Cancer Research Foundation held its Hot Pink Party marking 30 years of progress while saluting William Lauder; American Ballet Theatre hosted its Spring Gala: Ballet Brilliance at Cipriani 42nd Street where they honored Chai Vasarhelyi. The evening featured a preview of the 2024 Summer season, including an excerpt from the New York Premiere of Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works as well as excerpts from classical favorites. 

Cassandra Trenary and Herman Cornejo performing an excerpt from Like Water for Chocolate on stage at Cipriani 42nd Street for American Ballet Theatre’s Spring Gala: Ballet Brilliance.

And there was more. New York Cares, the largest volunteer network in the city, hosted its annual soiree; the Council for Canadian American Relations held its 2024 Gala, supporting arts and cultural organizations in Canada and the United States. The American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra hosted its 2024 gala with Michael Feinstein singing a selection of songs from the Great Jewish American Songbook. And last but not least, the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet hosted a private luncheon for the presentation of the 24/25 Season of the Paris Opera and Ballet, with Alexander Neef, General Director of the Paris Opera.

And even more Happenings.
Last Tuesday, May 7th at 10:30 in the morning, Dan Biederman, Executive Director of Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership, and Tommy Hilfiger, Founder of one of the world’s great lifestyle fashion brands, hosted the unveiling and dedication of the marble Bryant Park bench (rarely is a Park bench in marble of course). This one is emblazoned with a shiny bronze plaque also, honoring fashion legends Stan Herman and Fern Mallis and their founding of “7th on Sixth.”

The bronze plaque on Bryant Park bench honoring Stan Herman and Fern Mallis.

The bench’s title refers to the location of a group of large tents in the park on Sixth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets that existed temporarily from the early ’90s to the early ’21s behind the Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library.

With the guests assembled, together, Biederman and Hilfiger lifted the navy blue canvas cover to unveil the bench, with its shiny bronze plaque. Dan introduced Stan to speak and express his gratitude. Fern then spoke about Bryant Park, and the New York Fashion Week shows produced for “7th on Sixth.”

Following the unveiling event, Bryant Park Grill generously hosted a special guest reception, featuring Prosecco, and sparkling water, mini strawberry and blackberry tarts, and red velvet cupcakes with strawberry icing.

Tommy Hilfiger, Stan Herman, Fern Mallis, Dan Biederman
Tommy Hilfiger, Stan Herman, Fern Mallis, and Dan Biederman.

Guests included Dee Hilfiger, Barbara Blair (President, Garment District Alliance), Suzanne Slesin (Pointed Leaf Press), Frederico Farina (Pointed Leaf Press), Teri Agins, Yeohlee Teng (designer), Jeffrey Banks, Charlotte Neuville, Lisa Silhanek, Peter Davis, Sal Cesarini, Josh Bell (J. McLaughlin), Steven Kolb (CFDA), Grant Greenberg (filmmaker), Judy Licht, Marylou Luther, Jim McMullan (artist and illustrator), Fred Rottman (National Arts Club), Stephanie Mallis (Fern’s sister), Ty Yorio (Citadel Security, the leading “7th on Sixth” Security Agency), Ku-Ling Yurman (Stan’s niece).

It was certainly a brilliant idea to sell fashion by literally bringing it to the street level, and making everything look snazzy while briefly (like fashion). Its physical presence was a fascinating glomeration on the eastern border of the Park.

The noticeable presence to the hundreds of thousands of people who passed by the junction of the Avenue and West 42nd Street added a kind of real life glamour to the block.

Jeffrey Banks, David Landay, Stan Herman, James McMullan, Kate McMullan, David Alpern
Jeffrey Banks, David Landay, Stan Herman, James McMullan, Kate McMullan, and David Alpern.

Its intended visitors were of course mainly professionals – designers, photographers, merchants, society figures, artists, models, manufacturers, etc. They congregated daily along with the public for the dozens of designer shows of the last line. Its physical presence in the area was an obvious “destination” for New Yorkers.   

For the various designers who were showing their creations for the coming season, it was all business.  But to the visitor, it was an adventure — sitting among and seeing scores of people involved in the fashion business (originally known as the “garment business”) as well as the models and the attitudes and the surprises along with the audiences’ responses, and even curious movie stars.

New York Fashion Week really came into its own during the 1990s through the early 2000s when Stan and Fern created and produced the New York Fashion Weeks from ’94 through to ’08 in Bryant Park.

L. to r.: Stephanie Mallis and Grant Greenberg; Steve Abrams and Charlotte Neuville.
Lisa Silhanek, Teri Agins, Suzanne Slesin, and Frederico Farina.
L. to r.: Barbara Blair and Yeohlee Teng; Dee Hilfiger and Andy Chia Yu.
Fern Mallis and Chiun-Kai Shih.
Paul Aferiat, Grant Greenberg, Joshua Bell, Peter Stamberg
Paul Aferiat, Grant Greenberg, Joshua Bell, and Peter Stamberg.
 Tommy Hilfiger, Steve Kolb
Tommy Hilfiger and Steve Kolb.
“Stan Herman w/ family” (l to r) Sophie Clarke, Michael Saccio, Ruth Tannenbaum Benanav, Stan Herman, Lu-Ling Yurman, Sage Saccio
Stan Herman w/ family (l. to r.) Sophie Clarke, Michael Saccio, Ruth Tannenbaum Benanav, Lu-Ling Yurman, and Sage Saccio.

Meanwhile, down in Palm Beach, the season continues. For example, the Museum of Democracy held its 3rd Annual “Dinner Under The Stars” at the spectacular Palm Beach home of Amanda and Chuck Schumacher.  The Co-chairs for the evening were Pamela Wright, Sharon Bush, Maria Fishel and Kim Dryer, and guests of honor were Mark and Janet Levy.

Among the guests: Seth and Jennifer Miller, Camilla Webster, Ava Roosevelt, Elizabeth Steimberg, Austin and Madison Wright, Patricia Silverstein, Nicole Salmasi, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Pamela Morgan, Rob Gray, Alex Hammer, Sebastian and Simone Clark, Martin and Jean Shafiroff, Danielle Rollins and Tom D’Agastino, Ruth Miller, Lee and CeCe Black, Dave Granville, Jeff Pfeifel, Bob Murray, Jeanne Branthover and Ted Blount.

The Museum and The White House Experience is located at Long Island University in the historical summer home of Marjorie Merriweather Post and E.F. Hutton. The Museum has the largest collection of American historical, political art and memorabilia in the world. Currently on exhibit is “Hail to the Chief! Electing the American President.”

Pamala Wright, Camilla Webster, Ava Roosevelt, and Sharon Bush.
Jean and Martin Shafiroff, with Maria and Kenneth Fishel.
Austin and Madison Wright.
Dave Granville, Sharon Bush, Jeff Pfeifel, and Bob Murray.
Lee and CeCe Black.
L. to r.: Rob Gray and Alex Hammer; Jennifer and Seth Miller.
Sebastian and Simone Clark, Danielle Rollins, and Tom D’Agastino.
Kenneth Fishel, Chuck Schumacher, Greg Holmes, and Mark Levy.
Kim Dryer, Jeanne Branthover, and Ted Blount.
Amanda and Charles Schumacher.
Sharon Bush, Pamala Wright, Janet Levy, and Mark Levy.
Pamala Wright, Jennifer Miller, Maria Fishel, Jean Shafiroff, Elizabeth Steimberg, Patricia Silverstein, Nicole Salmasi, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Pamela Morgan, and Ruth Miller.

Jelo Pacana for Angelito Jusay Photography (Stan & Fern); Mireya Acierto/AnnieWatt.com (MOD)

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