On Thursday evening at Freds restaurant tucked away in the new downtown Barneys, the 84-year-old model Carmen Dell'Orefice hosted a dinner with Zani Gugelmann, the 30-something New York socialite. Dell'Orefice hailed from Park Avenue, while Gugelmann Uber'ed from her TriBeCa loft. They met in the middle to honor the world's oldest leather handbag company, Delvaux, which was founded in 1829 — even before Hermès.
Gugelmann's mother was also in attendance, along with Ann Dexter-Jones and her daughter Annabelle, who will be hosting a similar mother/daughter dinner out in Los Angeles next week. Many guests, including Gugelmann, were headed to Rome the following morning for Sofia Coppola's production of La Traviata with Valentino. And after that, Gugelmann had plans to drive to Florence for a two-day event thrown by Aquazzura. We're now entering a time some call "post-gala season," so the world is a socialite's oyster.
"Everyone in Europe takes these things so seriously," said Gugelmann of her numerous party plans. "But I'm like, what am I going to wear? One is a jungle theme and the other is a surrealist theme." Tough packing list, indeed.
I summed up earnestly the evening's touching theme of lineage, heirlooms, and mentorship to 87-year-old dinner guest Maxie Leoussiswhen she asked what I was going to write about. She put her head in her hands. "Can I ask you something?" she said. I nodded. "Why don't you write something more interesting?" Seated to her immediate right was none other than Glenn O'Brien, and his ears perked up.
Leoussis had spent the past two hours telling me about her life as a documentary filmmaker in Paris, back when there were five women in her department and only two channels. At the age of seventeen in her hometown of Monte Carlo, she told her father she would go on a hunger strike if he didn't let her study in Paris. She now spends most of the year in Greece by herself.
"You're young!" she continued. "If you're not going to take risks then what's the point? You have nothing to be afraid of."
At this point, O'Brien clearly felt the need to interject. "Do you know Oscar Wilde?" he asked me, deadpan. I nodded again, speechless. "He said, 'Be yourself, because everyone else is taken.'"
I looked at my watch: 9:45 p.m. "Well! It's getting late!" I said, assuming this crowd would agree. Instead, Leoussis burst into hysterical laughter, nudging O'Brien to join in.
At the end of the night, Leoussis took a bouquet of flowers off the table and stuffed it into her handbag. "You know, when you're in a hotel, you don't think to buy these sorts of things," she said. "But they make all the difference."
And then she was off.