Heralding the arrival of New York Fashion Week

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Racing down Fifth Avenue. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022.  Warm in New York, but mild and often cloudy, and occasional mists of rain, following the day and night before when we got a little rain.

The city is back. It’s notable because you can see it. For the past four months it’s been dead. Empty. Last night I had dinner with a friend at Sette Mezzo (where else if you know this writer) and it was mobbed. My word for it: crowded. Very Inside. But it wasn’t just the numbers that impressed this observer, but the energy. It’s back. At least it seems as such; I say that carefully.

The Begonias are back, too.

The social/business calendar is saying it also. My personal gauge is the number of invitations and press releases crossing this desk. Mind you, we’re now talking public relations. Invitations in our world are a pre-press release. I don’t mean that cynically, but actually referring to the nature of social life in New York today. Maybe it’s the cell phones but the vibe is out there. It’s naturally interesting from the POV.

LightsCameraAction …

Last week I went to the first event of the season for the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT (MFIT for you non-verbals). A luncheon held on the mezzanine level gallery on the David M. Koch Theater, I’ve attended it many times, always the guest of Eleanora Kennedy, and often seated next to Martha Stewart.

Heralding the arrival of New York Fashion Week, the annual fall event benefits MFIT, New York’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the art of fashion. The presenting sponsor was Nordstrom.

I’m a big fan of Martha Stewart. Fan is an inadequate word for it; I admire her passion for her work. It is an artist’s dedication and therefore, ultimately an artist’s life. Yes, she’s a businesswoman but it’s the artist that moves her.

I saw her only once when she had that daily show on TV years ago, and I was in awe not only of her knowledge but of her presentation. It was superior and at the same time down home/just folks.

That is the art for our technology. Off-camera, off-stage, at the dinner or lunch table, she’s the same person you see on the Tube. Over the past few years I have had an occasional chance to be in her company. Fascinating and compelling and totally All-American Girl of this age of ours.

Martha wasn’t there this year. Because … what else? she was working on a shoot or something like that. So I was seated next to my hostess Eleanora and on my left, Sarah Wetenhall, who with her husband Andrew Wetenhall own The Colony hotel in Palm Beach.

Sarah is the CEO, and she has streamlined and restored the legendary hotel in every way. It also features what has become the center of Palm Beach daily life, Swifty’s – yes that Swifty’s headed by it original co-founder Robert Caravaggi.

And baby it’s hopping morning, noon and night, under the stars right by the pool. It’s a fixture already; plus you might see anybody in the world, including those passing through, lunching or dining at Swifty’s.

Eleanora Kennedy with her other table mate, and also hotel proprietress, Aurelija Fetherston.

This luncheon, on Wednesday, was for the benefit of the Museum at FIT which now has one of the greatest collections of fashion and costume in New York, under the longtime direction of Dr. Valerie Steele. Valerie greeted the guests, as she does every year, and gave them a quick rundown of the “awards” luncheon.

Then Dr. Joyce Brown, the president of FIT followed, “We are proud to honor Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female creative director at Dior, with the 2022 Couture Council Award. As Maria says, ‘When you are a woman making clothes for women, fashion is not just about how you look; it is about how you feel and how you think.'”

Dr. Joyce F. Brown.

Dr. Brown then introduced Samira Nasr, the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, to introduce the Couture Council’s awardee of the year, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Ms. Chiuri is the first woman creative director of women’s haute couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories collections for Dior.

Samira Nasr introducing Maria Grazia Chiuri to a packed house.

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Samira Nasr.

She was born in Rome in 1964. Inspired by her mother, a dressmaker, she knew early on that she wanted to work in fashion. She studied at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Rome. She trained in the technical side of fashion design while exploring the cultural and artistic heritage of the Italian capital. Art history and cinema have always informed her work.

Ms. Chiuri started her career at Fendi in 1989, for which she designed handbags. In 1999, she was appointed head of accessories at Valentino. In July 2016 she was named creative director of women’s haute couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories collections for Dior, becoming the first woman to hold this position at the house.

Dr. Valerie Steele, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, and Samira Nasr.

On the occasion of the Dior fall-winter 2019–2020 haute couture show, she was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor) by France’s Secretary of State for Gender Equality Marlène Schiappa.

Past recipients of the Couture Council Award are Wes Gordon (2021), Christian Louboutin (2019), Narciso Rodriguez (2018), Thom Browne (2017), Albert Kriemler of Akris (2016), Manolo Blahnik (2015), Carolina Herrera (2014), Michael Kors (2013), Oscar de la Renta (2012), Valentino (2011), Karl Lagerfeld (2010), Dries Van Noten (2009), Isabel Toledo (2008), Alber Elbaz (2007), and Ralph Rucci (2006). In 2008, Giorgio Armani received a special award for Global Fashion Leadership.

Julie Macklowe, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Pete Nordstrom, Dr. Valerie Steele, and Kara Ross.

And while we’re on the subject, a few words about Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE: JWN) who sponsored ($$$) this beautiful luncheon in this now classic theatrical mezzanine overlooking the Lincoln Center Plaza.

Their policy for existing is “to help customers feel good and look their best. Since starting as a shoe store in 1901, how to best serve customers has been at the center of every decision they make.”

Their digital-first platform enables them to serve customers when, where, and how they want to shop—whether that’s in store at more than 350 Nordstrom, Nordstrom Local, and Nordstrom Rack locations or digitally through their Nordstrom and Rack apps and websites. Through it all, they remain committed to leaving the world better than they found it.

Jamee Gregory, Kim Heirston, Mark Gilbertson, and Kara Ross.
L. to r.: Robin Morgan, Maria Grazia Chiuri, and Janita Maria; Veronica Webb.
Gabriel Rivera Barraza, Edmundo Castillo, Yaz Hernandez, and Pj Pascual.
Freya Dohan.
L. to r.: Elizabeth Kurpis; Caterina Heil Stewart; Sharon Coplan Hurowitz.
Gigi Ganatra and Gillian Miniter.
L. to r.: Patricia Mears and Marisol Deluna; Rachele Regini and Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Timo Weiland.
L. to r.: Tamara N’namdi and Veronica Esposito; Rickie De Sole
Marcie Warren and Ken Downing.
L. to r.: Lauren Levison; Joan Hornig.
Victoria Wyman, Jean Shafiroff, Audrey Gruss, and Candace Bushnell.
L. to r.: Nina Garcia; Jamee Gregory and Hilary Dick.
Julie Macklowe, Eleanora Kennedy, and Kara Ross.
L. to r.: Fay Ricotta and Gloria Nakash; Gigi Ganatra and Fern Mallis.
Kathryn Chenault, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, and Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi.
L. to r.: Joyce F. Brown and Francine LeFrak; Fe and Alessia Fendi.
Marisol Deluna, Hilary Cianciolo, Carly Bigi, and Nancy Flaherty.
L. to r.: Francisco Costa; Cameron Silver, Candace Bushnell, and Milton Wayne Townsend Jr.
Rachele Regini, Marisa Pucci, Samira Nasr, Derek Blasberg, and Jessica Diehl.
L. to r.: Kat Graham and Aurora James; Meredith Marks and Blair Voltz Clarke.
Zani Gugelmann, Julie Macklowe and friends.

Photographs by Yvonne Tnt/BFA.com & Sean Zanni/PMC

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