Vessels of creativity, history, and personal expression

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Taking a smoke break. Photo: JH.

Thursday, November 2, 2023. A sunny day and and chilly one, yesterday in New York with temps dipping into the 40s and the heat on in a lot of apartment buildings.

Meanwhile t’is the season of Thanksgiving here in New York. It’s where people’s energy heightens to accommodate all of the activity of this center of creativity that we live in.

A good example last Wednesday night at a Private Club here in New York, Vanessa Noel, the fashion entrepreneur was hosting her first The Noel Shoe Museum Gala. You read that right: New York City’s First and Only Shoe Museum, what Fern Mallis, formerly Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, referred to in her opening speech as “a very soulful event.” In more ways than one, I’d say.

Shoes carved into pumpkins were the centerpieces on every table at the inaugural Noel Shoe Museum Gala.

Quoting Kenneth Cole, Fern told the guests, “‘The average woman falls in love seven times a year … only, six times are with shoes.’” Fern continued, “There is not one woman I know, and several men, who does not have a shoe fetish. And as Marilyn Monroe said, ‘give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world’. Tonight we celebrate Vanessa Noel for spearheading this extraordinary museum, which will be a great addition to New York City.

“New York is already the greatest fashion city in the country, but there’s one facet of human creativity that has remained largely unexplored until now: the World of Footwear. Vanessa has shown us that shoes are not just accessories, but vessels of creativity, history, and personal expression.”

Vanessa Noel and Fern Mallis stand beside Fern’s donated lime green Manolo Blahnik heels.

Several people I know, women and men, have donated a favorite pair of heels, sneakers, clodhoppers, slippers, and whatever else they call footwear and is so personal the attachment is almost physical. Or rather, is physical.

Vanessa’s museum project has come along at a time of major fashion change in footwear. Here in the city with so many pedestrians on “display,” you see the changing fashions. One that always catches my eyes are the black lace-up or zipped-up shoes or boots. They are — to these eyes — noticeably unattractive, even lessening the pleasure of looking at the wearer.

It’s a fashion movement which to me is an indication of a greater change occurring among us humanoids. I’m reminded of a moment several years ago when Daphne Guiness Niarchos, one of the most beautiful women in the world, came into Michael’s for lunch one day wearing black dressy shoes with an 8 inch high heel/sole. 

She looked a bit uneasy as she moved across the room taking very short, almost baby-steps. Watching this beautifully dressed beautiful woman move so delicately step-by-step, I couldn’t resist asking as she passed by if her shoes were “comfortable” (since it looked like she was almost on a highwire). “Very comfortable…” she responded as she moved along sensitively focused on her feet. When she took her seat, I felt a sense of relief although there was no such indication of interest in the wearer.

Mayor Eric Adams’ brother, Bernard, presented a pair of Mayor Adam’s Santoni shoes on his behalf.

Mayor Eric Adams also donated a pair of his shoes which were brought on the stage by his brother Bernard Adams who told the guests:  “The mayor’s shoes aren’t sexy, but I can tell you one thing; these shoes have a lot of mileage because the man works hard. He really loves this city, and this museum. We were at the Gracie Mansion and I said, listen, take your, take your shoes off so I can bring them over [laugh]. If you know anything about the mayor, you know, he’s up early and he goes to bed real late. They say he’s a nightlife mayor. That’s true. But he’s out working all the time.”

Mayor Adam’s Santoni shoes.

Then former player and now coach of the Harlem Globetrotters, Chris “Handles” Franklin and current player Brawley “Cheese” Chisholm presented limited edition Reebok basketball sneakers. Mark Breland, former American amateur boxer and Olympic gold medalist, donated a pair of his boxing shoes. On display also were metallic gold Versace shoes from Danny Wegman (of the new Wegmans Grocery store in Astor Place), Hunt Slonem’s paint covered sneakers, Fern Mallis’ lime green Manolo Blahnik heels, H.R.H. Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia’s custom Vans, and many more.

Chris “Handles” Franklin, Former player and now coach of the Harlem Globetrotters, donating limited edition, never released to the public Reebok basketball sneakers.

Brawley “Cheese” Chisholm of the Harlem Globetrotters donating his game-worn Reebok basketball sneakers.
Artist Hunt Slonem’s paint-covered sneakers.

Danny Wegman’s metallic gold Versace sneakers.
Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia donated his custom Vans.

Two incredible “living shoes,” created by Italian artist Johannes Stoetter, performed for the first time in the United States. Dressed in only body paint, they assumed the forms of stiletto heels. Earlier Wednesday morning, just off a plane from Vienna, they performed on Good Day New York, live from Vanessa Noel’s storefront on 64th Street and Lexington Avenue.

Italian artist Johannes Stoetter’s “living shoes.”

Gala guests included Sharon and Bernard Adams, Teri Agins, Frederick Anderson, Keiko Ono Aoki, Michael Atmore, Jeffrey Banks, Tina Beriro, Cesare Bieller, CeCe and Lee Black, Sharon Bush, Liz and Gerry Byrne, Cassandra Cass, Lady Liliana Cavendish, Ruthie Davis, Mike Dean, Lauren Ezerzky, Pamela Fiori, Celso Gonzalez, Anthony Haden Guest, Nikki Haskell, Leila and Henry Heller, Omar Hernandez, Arthur Houghton, Dorothea de la Houssaye, Paris Hovnanian, Elizabeth Kabler, Roy Kean, Karen Klopp, Margo Langenberg, Alfred Lasher, Franck Laverdin, Maribel Lieberman, Denise de Luca, Pamela Morgan, Miranda Morrison, Roland Nivelais, Topper Quinn, Nicole Salmasi, Jean Shafiroff, Hunt Slonem, Tracy Snyder, Caroline St George, Benny Tabatabai, Joyce Varvatos, Robert Verdi, Christopher Walling and Shoe Museum Board Members Billie Bailkin, Susan Gutfreund, Hon. Carolyn Maloney, Joe Pacetti, Jackie Tucker, H.R.H. Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia.

The evening raised money and awareness for the construction of New York City’s first and only museum dedicated to shoes. More information at

Franck Laverdin, Vanessa Noel, Sana Sabbagh, and Alfred Lasher.
Liliana Cavendish, Hunt Slonem, and Sharon Bush.
Franck Laverdin, Jean Shafiroff, and Roy Kean.

This past Tuesday being Halloween, there were lots and lots of halloween parties all around town. On the Upper East Side, everyone in the nabe kinda knows about Michael Loeb’s annual bash. Loeb’s brownstone mansion is notably one of the best maintained residences in the area.

This year’s theme was Barbie’s Blood Ball so obviously the Loeb residence was full-up of Barbies and Kens; and a “Barbie Box.” If you have to ask then don’t!

Over on the Upper Left, Kayla Rockefeller, Consuelo Vanderbilt, Adrien Lesser, and Janna and Eugenia Bullock hosted a Venetian Soiree, dubbed Masquerade, at the home of R. Couri Hay.

Jordan Ricciardi, Katherine Wislocki, R. Couri Hay, Kayla Rockefeller, and Melanie Carr.

The black-tie dinner dance served as a prequel to Save Venice’s Masked Ball at the Chelsea Hotel. Gold leaf flecks led the way to Casa Couri from the end of the block, culminating at the townhouse, which was marked with the red and gold flag of Venice hanging over the front door. The steps outside were lined with dozens of glowing orange pumpkins that turned into white pumpkins, festooning the staircase and foyer.

The main salon featured black floating candles from the ceiling and giant black branches that flanked the buffet table groaning with artisanal cheeses and other treats.

L. to r.: Mercedes de Guardiola, Eugenia Bullock, and Adrien Gardner Lesser; Isabelle and Lucas Bscher.

Among those indulging in Beluga caviar bumps and flutes of Bollinger champagne were Nicole Miller, Sophia Kanavos, Mercedes de Guardiola, Julia Haart, Patrick McMullan, Isabelle Bscher and her brother Lucas Bscher, Sandra Ripert, Lady Liliana Cavendish, Isabel Leeds, Oliver Young, Laine Siklos and Lucia Hwong Gordon.

The great room had a DJ on one side of the flickering fireplace, and French doors leading to the terrace overlooking the all-white garden. After cocktails, the perfumed pack headed to the ground floor where a Phantom of the Opera-themed dining room featured burgundy sequined tablecloths and black candelabras dripping red “blood” illuminated the room.

Celebrity chef Andrew Molen served a trio of pastas with shaved truffles, filet mignon, and Caesar salad, followed by a tower of cakes and Halloween cookies. Also in the mix were Yasmin Smeets, Melanie Carr, Dr. Ariel Ostad, Tassilo Corsi, Katherine Wislocki, Rocio Zobel, Jane Li,  Jordan Ricciardi, Victoria Pelgrift, Nicole Chessin, Ally Witt, Julie Sagoskin, and Joe Alexander.

L. to r.: Jamie Grimstad and Nick Huth; Sophia Kanavos and Eliza Lesser.
L. to r.: Consuelo Vanderbilt, Nicole Miller, and Janna Bullock; Julia Haart.
Liliana Cavendish and Eyal Arad.
L. to r.: Laine Siklos and Sandra Ripert; Taylor May and Georgia Couri.
Dr. Ariel Ostad.
L. to r.: Tasha Saravia; Sarvi Chafik.
Victoria Pelgrift, Skye Ostreicher, and Carolyn Vaeth.
Isabella and Yasmin Smeets.
Joe Alexander.
Julia Haart and R. Couri Hay.

And somewhere in the middle at The Venue at the Hard Rock Hotel Times Square New York, actress, philanthropist, and author Leesa Rowland, along with Larry Wohl, held her “Old Hollywood Glamour – A Halloween Soiree” – an affair bringing out silver screen style and good grace with a special tribute to the stars of the screen.

This light-hearted party was a throwback to the times when the movie studios created the stars and starlets who dominated our lives. Guests wore their best classic red carpet looks while enjoying cocktails, and dancing to live music.

Leesa Rowland and Larry Wohl.

Event Décor, Cocktails and dinner were created by Hank Stampfl’s Revel Rouge with many personal touches from Leesa Rowland. Fashion Designer Marc Bouwer designed Leesa’s Costume.

Hank Stampfl.

Notable Attendees included: Marc Bouwer, Pedro Oberto, Ramona Singer, Carmen D’Alessio, Tina Radziwill, Debbie Dickinson, Wendy and Bob Federman, Dottie Herman, Pamela Morgan, Stewart F Lane and Bonnie Comley, Liliana Cavendish, Paul Margolin, Sergio Zapata, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Cindy Guyer, Nicole Noonan and Steve Knobel, Sharon Bush, Hank Stampfl, Lady Betty Grafstein and Jose Castelo Branco, Bill Sclight and Cheri Kaufman.

Marc Bouwer, Leesa Rowland, and Pedro Oberto.
Cindy Guyer.
Nicole Noonan.
Pamela Morgan.
Wendy Federman.
Debbie Dickinson.
Ramona Singer.
Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley.
Brigitte Segura.
Lucia Hwong Gordon.
Nicole Salmasi.
Dottie Herman.

And then Downtown-ish at Chapel Bar, the chic bar housed inside a former 19th-century chapel adjacent to photography museum Fotografiska New York, the masc or trade Masquerade, hosted by NYC It-Boys, Max Battle, Jonah Almost, and Ludwig Hurtado, featured a sexy lineup of all masc DJs playing fun dance music for a club-ready cadre of costumed downtown creatives.

Notable attendees included actress and model Hari Nef, playwright and actor Jeremy O. Harris, visual artist Martine Gutierrez, Merlot Sanders, and more.

Max Battle, Jonah Almost, and Ludwig Hurtado.
Claudia Rodriguez, Travonte Taylor, and Maureen Franklin.
Paolo Colelle, Dayton Pangborn, and Cameron Schuessler.
Daniela and Jeffrey Tabois.
Max Battle and Martine Gutierrez.
Merlot Sanders, Rum.Gold, and Spencer Clark.
Hari Nef (far right) and friends.
Jeremy O. Harris.
Chris and Julia Yetter.
Sterling Juan Diaz.
Sorrelle McGill.


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