December, 1968: New York City continued to roil with dissent! While there were wildly decorated hippie head shops opening uptown and downtown with even wilder merchandise, those same establishments were in full support of the protests against the draft, the war and the government in general. Downtown, the Lower East Side was beginning to be thought of as the East Village. And in some neighborhoods, along with the sounds of bongo drums and tinkling East Indian bells, the smell of patchouli, incense and marijuana hung in the air.
The local population of Russian immigrants was being rapidly replaced by young people dressed in a conglomeration of costumes with elements of African, oriental and army surplus all vaguely over laced with a hint of hallucinogenic imagery!
My friend Caterine Milinaire had been named The Girl of the Year and during his visit to New York had taken Yves St. Laurent on a tour of St. Mark’s Place and the area. He was fascinated. And along with a later couture collection he presented a look he’d seen downtown, the Safari Suit, which immediately became a standard item in the wardrobes of many chic women who had no idea of its inception.
Indeed, very few of them had probably ever even heard of the goings on downtown although word was beginning to spread! Vogue magazine was beginning to have small articles of discovery at the beginning of the magazine.
The fashion aspect of the apparent social revolution was becoming more difficult to ignore!
I, away from the action in my apartment on the Upper East Side, was busily involved with professional deadlines. My work and style had evidently struck a familiar chord with advertising agencies and along with magazine work I was getting commissions for advertising jobs that sometimes had a humorous tone. All of it was fun and just fine with me. It also taught me discipline as some job were overnight deadlines. By the time the ad appeared, I’d be submerged in totally different projects.
Once, I admired a black and white newspaper illustration for an airline ad before remembering that in fact (blush!), I had done it!
There was still time for lunch meetings and daytime activities which is why I worked at night uninterrupted.
On this night, I was invited to a dinner party with Katia Aubry. Craig Caswell had been invited to a small dinner party by coincidence in the same building so we all went together.
At our dinner I was sitting next to my friend Marisa Pavan, who told me that she and her husband, french movie heart throb, Jean-Pierre Aumont were giving a party for her younger sister Patrizia in a few days and she’d be happy if I would come.
I accepted. And since Craig was new in town I asked if I might also bring him, my young friend.
Marisa smiled sadly and said that it was such a small group, that it would be difficult to include him. I quickly said that of course I understood and the evening continued.
After dessert as we were having coffee, the doorbell rang. It was Craig whose dinner party had ended earlier. He was ushered into the dining room and introduced.
Marisa looked at him in his Brooks Brothers suit and leaned over to me — whispering: “Is this your young friend?” she asked.
I said yes and Marisa, still whispering while checking Craig out said, “Bob … Jean-Pierre said that since you’re such a good friend you should bring your young friend!”
I hadn’t recalled her speaking with Jean-Pierre who was sitting at the far end of the table but nevertheless Craig was suddenly included!
Craig and Patrizia spent a lot of time talking and she was introducing him to her friends — and I couldn’t help but breathe a big sigh of relief !
I was somewhat surprised to see Phillip Farron was a guest; I’d met him during the dismal wet summer at Fire Island with Guy Burgos and the gossip going around was that Guy, who was married to Lady Sarah Churchill, was leaving her for Farron!
Discretion is the better part of valor!
I was discreet.
I was also so pleased with the way things were going that I was relaxing and really enjoying myself. I was soon approached by a man and a beautiful woman. She was Gina Golan, an actress who’d been Miss Israel and then a fashion model before being discovered for movies!
She was in the movie, Our Man Flint with James Coburn.
It was directed by Daniel Mann who’d also directed The Rose Tattoo, the film with Italian actress Anna Magnani who’d played Marisa’s mother. I assume that’s how they knew each other.
They told me that I looked so happy that they had to meet me and tell me so. I was happy to draw her picture.
A few days later I flew to Los Angeles for Christmas and upon my arrival, went straight to Hamburger Hamlet, a tradition for my family!