The New Yorkers for Children fall gala Tuesday night was the first in many games to be played this season and a large roster showed up at Cipriani 42nd Street for the event, sponsored by CIRCA and St. John. Within minutes of the start time, a bottleneck of servers and long trained dresses clogged the entrance (as if we hadn’t already endured the General Assembly traffic outside).
“Waiters trays and handbags!” said Daniel Benedict as he tried to maneuver with three drinks in hand (they weren’t all his).
“It’s a mosh pit,” said a nearby acquaintance.
From left: Cristina Greeven Cuomo, Coralie Charriol Paul, Ivanka Trump, Maggie Cordish, Julie Macklowe
Ivanka Trump, Julie Macklowe, Debbie Bancroft, Muffie Potter Aston, Alexandra Lebenthal, Melissa George and Tinsley Mortimer hung near the bar during cocktails as Sotheby’s Jamie Niven jokingly tried to weasel his way out of manning the live auction later in the evening.
“I’ve lost my voice,” he said, sounding perfectly fine to me. “Do you want to do it for me? It’s easy.”
It certainly wasn’t easy corralling people to their chairs, as waiters tried to usher them towards the tables in vain.
“It’s more fun at the bar,” said one woman, ignoring their pleas.
“The anthropology of this event is as interesting as the event,” remarked Alexandra Kerry as she took her seat. No kidding. Where else would you find society grand dames rubbing shoulders with a Victoria’s Secret model (Selita Ebanks), a basketball player (Carmelo Anthony) and a tennis star (Serena Williams)?
From left: Selita Ebanks with Serena Williams; Carmelo Anthony
“My husband was just looking at Serena Williams’ butt. He was like, ‘It’s amazing!’” said my seatmate of the athlete, who was wearing a purple jersey body-conscious dress that showed off every curve. “She’s got buns of steel!”
Over a dinner of beet salad and filet mignon or fish, guests listened to humbling stories from NYFC Guardian scholars and Spirit Award recipients (the non-profit helps provide scholarships and education opportunities for children in foster care), before Anthony received a special honor for his work with underprivileged youths.
“I haven’t been nervous in a long time,” said Anthony, wearing thick-framed eyeglasses. “I grew up in the projects. I didn’t always have it easy.”
As the speeches ended, glow sticks were passed out to some confusion, which Nivens quickly cleared up when he approached the podium.
“This, ladies and gentlemen, is not a suppository, it’s a glow stick. And you raise it when I glower at you,” he said as he began a live auction that started with $50,000 lots and moved down to $1,500 pledges.
“And now this is the part I’ve dreaded,” he finished. “I once introduced ‘N Sync as ‘N,’ ‘S,’ ‘Y,’ ‘N,’ ‘C.’ This is ELEW.”
The performer then took to a piano center stage before dessert and dancing ensued.
Photos: Billy Farrell Agency
Seeing as I am many breast augmentations and Sugar Daddies short of emulating Ms. Taylor’s voluptuous, diamond covered physique, I was at a loss. National Velvet equestrian? Cleopatra? Crazed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?
From left: Giovanna Battaglia, Carine Roitfeld and Mario Testino
I went for Butterfield 8 (aka a slip dress) and upon arriving at the Boom Boom Room was glad I did—it seemed most guests had either missed the Taylor directive or ignored it altogether.
Not that it put a damper on the evening: the room’s ceiling was covered in a sea of black and white balloons whose silver tails dangled over people (and into their drinks) like tentacles; there were stuffed zebras in various corners and on the bar, a glass sculpture of a crouching naked woman. Waitresses passed out trays of black and white Magnum Ice Cream bars.
And just thirty minutes into the party’s start time, the space was so packed it was sweating room only. Linda Evangelista chatted with Joseph Altuzarra, in a striped sailor shirt; Cecilia Dean maneuvered in a voluminous white Viktor & Rolf gown with impressive ease; Oliver Theyskens chatted with a tomboyish model and a drag queen resembling a Naomi Campbell impersonator barreled through the crowd.
From left: Andre Balazs, Linda Evangelista; Cecilia Dean
Over at the bar, the model Saskia de Brauw and a friend rather charmingly tried to pay for their beverages with a black Amex, not realizing the board was gratis and Cynthia Rowley and Bill Powers congratulated Prabal Gurung on his show before offering him a drink.
“Just a beer—nothing fancy,” he said.
“You know the champagne’s free?” joked Powers, before ignoring his request.
Joseph Altuzarra, center
Andre Pejicj entered in a ruffled white shirt, black sequined hot pants and thigh high socks, licking a Magnum chocolate bar suggestively for a video camera while Lady Bunny, the evening’s DJ, played “Let the Sunshine In.”
Around midnight, Sky Ferreira sang “If You Could Read My Mind,” followed by cast members of Priscilla Queen of the Desert performing a medley of “Finally.”
Lindsay Lohan made an appearance soon thereafter, installing herself in a booth with Rowley, whose show she took in last week, and a group of friends. Looking practically unrecognizable with snow white blonde hair, she still managed to attract attention (shocking, I know) and had many amateur snappers shooting photos with their iPhones and cameras.
“Does anyone even care?” sniffed one man as he glanced at her. “And where is her mother?”
Not sure Dina would have helped the situation that soon ensued when Lohan finally got wind of the people taking her picture. She pointed her finger at one man as she stood up on the booth’s seat, walking closer to him. When he backed away, leaving only the booth’s barrier between them, she grabbed her drink and threw it at him, just missing him as it hit the ground.
Guess she got the diva portion of the dress code right, though not the class part.
Photos: Billy Farrell Agency
Fortunately, Tory Burch’s Madison Avenue flagship opening Tuesday night broke the mold. Entering the 19th century townhouse felt more like walking into someone’s ultra chic home than a retail outlet. Clothes, bags, shoes and jewelry melded seamlessly with carpeted dark wood stairs, ikat pillow bedecked chaises and tasteful nature covered wallpaper showcasing vintage black and white framed photos.
“I totally want to move in,” said Marjorie Gubelmann, echoing a sentiment heard throughout the evening.
The third and top floor even boasted a stone ground terrace lit with candelight-esque sconces. On the facing brick wall, a video version of the colorful drawings and phrases De La Vega created for Burch was projected.
The artist himself was on the fifth floor, which acted as a de facto VIP space for Burch and her guests, who mingled in a mirrored room. When asked about his collaboration with Burch—his designs decorated the back of her show’s invitations and are also a print on a capsule collection to benefit The Tory Burch Foundation—he evoked a higher being (no, not the CFDA).
From left: Beyonce; Lucy Liu
“God arranged it,” he said with a straight face, explaining that he met Tory in her downtown store a few months ago. “Become the Dream is the theme behind my work, so I stuck to that with a combination of fish imagery.”
“I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it,” said De La Vega, who credited another higher being with his dapper tie and jacket ensemble. “My mom dressed me. She picked out everything. I’d be a madman if I didn’t have a powerful woman near me.”
Amen. Some other powerful women soon entered the room, among them Lucy Liu, Serena Williams and Reva Robinson, Burch’s mother and inspiration for the famous flat that has now catapulted her to one name fame.
“When I was in Tokyo, they were running after me, asking me to sign their Reva ballerina shoes,” she said, laughing.
Things soon got packed on the fifth floor, so much so that one poor waiter had the misfortune of accidentally spilling half a glass of white wine on a very gracious Liu.
From left: Alice Eve; Lyor Cohen
“She said, ‘Don’t worry no one died,’” said the poor fellow, clearly still mortified. “I said, ‘You’re not the one who’s about to be guillotined.”
Burch seemed perfectly at home handling the many admirers—and that’s pretty much the idea.
“We thought it would be interesting to restore the space to look like something from the 1880s. This room was inspired by Madeleine Castaing an interior designer, and she inspired some of my apartment, so there are elements of it here,” she said, smiling when she heard how many people expressed a desire to move in. “They can—we can rent it out,” she joked.
Just after ten, Burch’s other half, Lyor Cohen arrived, along with Jay Z and Beyonce, who may be having the edgiest pregnancy ever, wearing a cut out black leather topped dress. Unexpected houseguests? In this case, I’m guessing they’d be welcome.
Photos: Billy Farrell Agency
W Magazine's Stefano Tonchi took a different approach Monday night when he hosted a civilized, but no less entertaining affair, with help from sponsor Blackglama, to preview Steven Klein’s video installation “Time Capsule,” a 3-D extension of the editorial “One for the Ages,” which the photographer shot with Amber Valletta for the September issue.
From left: Amber Valletta, Steven Klein and Courtney Love
Instead of a claustrophobic bunker, guests were ushered into the Park Avenue Armory—more often home to Winter Antiques shows than fashion bashes—where they were confronted with an eerie quiet, until men parted the thick black curtains encasing the installation. As one woman put it, “I felt like a kid walking into a haunted house.”
Well, a house haunted by ten videos of Valletta, on huge flat screen televisions circling high above a central black bar and emitting an otherworldly glow as a score like techno music on quaaludes played in the background. “One for the Ages” showed Valletta as a woman progressively growing a century older, with help from some serious prosthetics and glamorous clothes, thus each screen was dedicated to one of her many decades.
Valletta herself looking appropriately timeless in Azzedine Alaia couture and a slick bun, professed a healthy attitude towards the aging process.
“My grandmothers both of them are stunning. And my one grandmother has fallen in love at like 80 something with a 90 year old in her rest home in her assisted living,” said the model, though no amount of experience and grace had quite prepared her for the surrounding installation. “I’m pretty overwhelmed but I feel really good. I meditated before I came.”
Her partner in creative crime insisted that his work was not a manifesto against the rampant plastic surgery that plagues many a member of his industry.
“This is about a specific woman I created so she actually does age. It’s not a statement as to whether it’s correct to do things against aging or for aging but I think it also comes within each person what everybody feels comfortable with,” said Klein, who said of all the years to depict (including a 120 year-old Valletta in an S & M-esque corset) the earlier ones proved most challenging. “They started to feel more like fashion and the more prosthetics and the more we developed the aging the more it became interesting to me, so if that’s any indication about being older, it gets more interesting, more exciting.”
From left: Stefano Tonchi and Naomi Campbell; Daphne Guinness
There was plenty of excitement to be had beyond the transfixing images. Daphne Guinness caused a stir, per usual, arriving in heel-free silver sequin shoes that had guests crouching down to catch a glimpse, and it was model central in some corners, with the likes of Shalom Harlow, Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova and Crystal Renn laughing with friends. Rose McGowan navigated the room in a golden lame dress and Natalie Joos showed up with a gold purse-shaped balloon as her accessory.
Midway through the evening, an entourage of five appeared causing whispers of “Gaga” thanks to their outlandish ensembles that included a plume bedecked black parasol, a topless man with a Suzy Menkes-worthy hair roll and black rhinestones glued to his forehead and a woman sporting a large black wig and lace bodysuit revealing her black thong. Gaga, indeed.
Turns out they were the Zand Collective, a performance art group supported by Susanne Bartsch. Why the kooky getup?
“That’s how we roll,” replied their topless leader.
And what did they make of the films?
“Well, we’re biased because they’re in black and white,” he replied, referring to the group’s preference for color-free dress.
Just before midnight, Courtney Love made an appearance to a round of flashbulbs and hugs from Klein. Turns out the singer had been delayed because she had lost track of time while watching Julie Christie in Darling. But she quickly jumped into the thick of things, offering her thoughts on the art piece at hand.
“I saw like a cheesy movie the other day—Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Something’s Gotta Give—and he only dates younger women and she’s post menopausal. It’s cute, for like sick stomach, bored shitless of fashion week, just want to stay at my house, like, I’m changing the channel, and I ended up really liking it. Not that the film addressed the aging process on this level, but it did in a funny way,” she said nodding towards the screens before continuing, “You don’t know my taste, but for me to even watch that movie I was like this is charming, this is good, this is sending good messages, this is a good movie I think. It gave me the little kick that I needed. I wish some men I know would watch that damn film. Or get a heart attack. Some in this room.”
Photos: Billy Farrell Agency
At Westway, the former strip club turned mirrored fashion lounge, Barneys New York feted Roitfeld and her work on their fall catalogue with a champagne and vodka-fueled singing spectacle. Alberta Ferretti came straight off landing in New York that night and Bruce Weber fondly recalled one of his favorite Carine moments.
“I was working on a job with her and I met a wonderful guy who dresses like a woman at Patricia Field’s and I said, ‘I want to use this guy in the women’s clothes.’ And I said ‘Do you want to see a picture?’” said Weber. “And she said ‘No, I trust you.’”
Even Wang stopped by, around the start time of his own event.
“It’s Carine, so I had to come say hello,” he said, sporting a hooded sweatshirt. “Don’t worry, I’ll give a shout out when it’s time to head over to mine.”
From left: Anna Dello Russo; Karolína Kurková
Surrounded by family, kids Julia and Vladimir, the woman of the hour was just itching to watch some fashion people let loose.
“I love this place—it’s like in the film ‘Cabaret,’” said Roitfeld. “I think in New York we have a lot of incredible people and maybe sometimes in Paris they’re more shy. I hope tonight people are gong to sing and have a lot of fun.”
And sing they did, with help from a karaoke machine projecting lyrics on the inner room’s back wall. Host Andy, wearing a silver glitter-covered top hat, got up on the mirrored runway to reminisce about his first time meeting Carine—“It was a night not unlike tonight. It was when this was an actual strip club. I saw a girl, I looked into her eyes, she looked into my eyes, I never wanted to dance after that night I met Carine”—before launching into a rendition of “Never Gonna Dance Again,” with Roitfeld joining him onstage for the end.
He was soon followed by Simon Doonan singing “Nasty Girl” as Anna Dello Russo looked on, playing a tambourine. Julia Restoin Roitfeld did a shot of vodka with her mother, liquid courage for her own turn.
“You’re next?” queried a PR person.
“But I’m getting ready,” she replied.
She needn’t have worried: her “Joe le taxi” did Vanessa Paradis proud, as did Elizabeth von Thurn und Taxis singing “The Locomotion,” after a trio by Margherita Missoni, Coco Brandolini and Tatiana Santo Domingo. Karolina Kurkova contributed Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.”
Valentino sings karaoke
But the real surprise of the evening was Valentino, whose arrival prompted much neck-craning. He was soon singing “My Way.” Carine brought down the house with “You’re So Vain,” Giovanna Battaglia and Dello Russo gave it their all with “Like a Prayer” and Valentino went for round two with “Unforgettable.”
The scene was a bit different over at Pier 40, where Wang transformed the dock into a (very fashionable) Frat House—something most guests probably didn’t spend a ton of time in during their own college days. The entrance to the party was a white slatted house front, complete with a picket fence and faux Greek insignia. Inside, a wallpapered area acted like a common room.
The entrance to Alexander Wang's party at Pier 40.
There were kegs, a beer pong table, a bathtub filled with ice to cool off drinks and more glow sticks than a 1990s bar mitzvah. Bartenders, wearing rugby shirts and tees proclaiming their alma mater (real or otherwise—USC and Southern Colorado State College were among the pickings) served up organic vodka to those less inclined towards keg beer—hey, authenticity can only be taken so far. Models like Arizona Muse, Britt Maren, Julia Stegner and Jac sipped their drinks and danced under a black light while fellow catwalker Hanne Gabe Odiele devoured a burger from a food table procuring hot dogs and their like.
Rumors abounded that Justin Bieber would be performing, but the group that took the stage, LA-based hip hop collective Odd Future, was a less familiar sighting, a fact they picked up on pretty quickly.
“This is really awkward: most of you motherfuckers don’t know who we are,” shouted the lead singer, who didn’t look particularly awkward or bothered by this fact. “But we’re going to fuck shit up.”
Odd Future's Tyler the Creator
He made good on his promise, rapping multiple songs, sending a blow up doll with a glow stick penis surfing through the crowd and dousing those near the stage with drinks.
“I had fun,” he said, as his set came to a close.
Photos: Billy Farrell Agency
The theater’s lower level hosted a jam-packed crowd, whose ratio of those wearing the designer’s signature red was easily one in five, while Valentino himself spent most of his time installed near a step and repeat, swallowed by reporters, hangers on and his beloved gals.
“I’m just a lady in waiting,” joked Valerie Steele as she waited for FIT president Dr. Joyce F. Brown to finish being introduced to and posing with Valentino.
“He’s an amazing designer. He’s one of the few who have lasted so long and made women feel beautiful, myself included,” gushed Andrea Dellal, who was showing her support for current Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccicoli by wearing one of their delicate dresses (unsurprisingly, Valentino the brand was the day’s major sponsor).
From left: Pierpaolo Piccioli, Iris Apfel, Maria Grazia Chiuri
Mr. Garavani, sporting a perpetual tan and a seemingly ageless physique, demurred on the question of his own longevity.
“It would be very pretentious of me to say it, but I’ve been helped by God because I always loved designing beautiful clothes for women and I did it with such great joy and love that women, they adore it,” he said. “And every time I am around they say, why you don’t come back? Why you don’t give us new clothes?”
Fortunately, most of the ladies in attendance had found other ways to get dressed, whether digging into their Val archives, or otherwise. As the gong sounded for lunch, luncheon chair Diane von Furstenberg arrived just in time, joining co-chair Charlotte Moss, Alexandra Lebenthal, Eddie Borgo, Fe Fendi, Zani Gugelmann, Ivanka Trump, Liliana Dominguez, Melania Trump, Dennis Basso, Lisa Perry, Patricia Duff and Lizzie Tisch. Kobe Bryant inexplicably milled around with his wife and posed for an iPhone photo with Valentino.
From left: Diane von Furstenberg; Marisa Berenson and Coralie Charriol Paul
Julia Koch and Shala Monroque kept Chiuri and Piccicoli company at their table, while Valentino was flanked by von Furstenberg and Anna Wintour, along with Marisa Berenson and Daphne Guinness, another chair and the subject of an upcoming exhibit at the Museum at FIT this month.
Guinness provided something of an exhibit herself, arriving in what appeared to be a cross between a nurse’s habit and French maid chic, an extra dark stripe running through her platinum updo. She looked divine. And perhaps inspired by her outfit, or Valentino’s presence, she spent most of the lunch bent over her table setting, a hand delicately clutching her head, as if in prayer. Needless to say, little food seemed to pass through her lips.
Simon Doonan gave an introductory speech, calling out the need for more energy from young designers today.
“They are, dare I say it, a little too earnest. They lack the fabulosity of Valentino. My fantasy is that Valentino will open his own Academe de Fabulosity, as a kind of male Miss Jean Brodie. Lesson one, arriving a your Roman palazzo,” he intoned, to much laughter, before passing the torch to Wintour, who presented Valentino with his award.
“When we think of Roman gods, a single means of address was good enough for them,” she said of his one word moniker, going on to describe the source of his legend, before adding, “His greatest acts tend to go unseen. He and Giancarlo have long been devoted to the fight against HIV and AIDS.”
Valentino received a standing ovation on his walk to the podium.
Charlotte Moss addressing the audience
“Fashion must be free and not constrained by commercial interests. For fifty years, I have had the privilege to dress American women. American women are the first to accept new trends and new names,” he said, also saluting America’s generosity to the world at large.
But inasmuch as the day was about Valentino, Valentino, it was Karl Lagerfeld, the recipient of last year’s award, who had the last word, via a note he wrote to Valentino.
“He wanted to dress the most beautiful and elegant women in the world and he dressed them,” said Lagerfeld in writing. “For him, the essence of beauty was more important than fashion. Voltaire said it is not enough to know how to conquer, you must know how to seduce. He knows how to do both.”
Photos: Nick Hunt/ PMC
Valerie Steele, Director of the Museum at FIT, and Thakoon Panichgul
I mean this in all sincerity: anyone stuck in New York during this time of the year is probably grateful for an opportunity to dress up and mingle with friends, particularly if the occasion occurs on the seemingly one sunny day in a stretch of thunderstorms, as did the Couture Council at the Museum at FIT’s annual Summer Party this past Wednesday evening. Thrown in advance of the group’s September Awards Luncheon, which this year honors Valentino and is chaired by Anne Bass, Daphne Guinness, Charlotte Moss and Diane von Furstenberg, the event was held at The Boathouse in Central Park, an idyllic spot except for one hiccup—the restaurant’s staff is on strike over issues ranging from allegedly unlawful firings to a sexual harassment suit.
And they certainly found inspiration in the well-clad guests who had to walk by their barricaded picket line en route to the venue.
“Shame on you! You should be ashamed of yourselves!” cried two men.
“You’re taking food out of my children’s mouth!” screamed another woman (it was a fashion party—not much eating was going to happen, though I realize this wasn’t her point).
From left: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen; Michele Gerber Klein
One particularly aggressive man singled me out and attempted a tactic of, shall we say, concern.
“The maitre d’ is a sexual predator, be careful!” he intoned.
If there’s a more charming welcome mat, I have yet to find it.
Inside, some guests were a bit rattled (“Kind of kills the mood,” said one girl) while others had barely noticed the heckling.
“I’m deaf and blind thanks to my three kids,” said an unflappable Patricia Shiah.
Carson Kressley and Devon Scott
Regardless, the bars were packed, the crowd genial, as Cece Cord, Alexandra Lebenthal, Valerie Steele, Yaz Hernandez, Liliana Dominguez, Maggie Norris, Patricia Field and Zac Posen caught up. Carson Kressley (wearing what looked to be Louis XIV’s curtains), Alex McCord and her husband Simon huddled in an unlikely threesome—perhaps trading TV appearance tips? Host committee member Liz Peek gave some opening remarks.
“Thank you all for coming and braving our picketers—I think we all appreciate Grey Goose,” she said, thanking one of the night’s sponsors. She also pointed out some of the raffle prizes, which included gifts from Equinox and Forever Cheese (they really should be lumped together as one lot).
Valentin Hernandez, Yaz Hernandez and Valentin Hernandez
As the party wound down, a calm Thakoon Panichgul showed up in a fall-ready flannel shirt.
“We’re pretty organized,” he said of taking a night off from his collection toil, adding, “And I never come to Central Park.”
Will picket signs now make for some kind of abstract print for spring? Stay tuned.
Photos: Hernandez, McCord and Gerber Klein: Owen Hoffmann / PMC; Steele, Kressley and Scott: Courtesy of the Couture Council.
From left: Steven Klein, Delfina Blanquier and Nacho Figueras
Saturday night made me realize just how blasé I’ve been about the convenience with which I drop by events when I headed out to Bridgehampton for the annual Cocktails at Sunset benefit for ACRIA, the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, held at Steven Klein’s house. As I was only stopping by for the evening, there was the Jitney ride out there in party-ready attire, and then Juanita, the lone taxi driver whom my friend hailed down to shuttle us to Klein’s house.
After making Juanita promise to return at 9:45 p.m. (we had to make the last Jitney home or we were stranded), we were then shuttled yet again on two sets of golf carts down a bumpy grass road lined with tiki torches illuminating the vineyards on one side. Our second of two golf cart drivers was nicknamed Sugar Ball Butts because of his love of derrieres. Charming.
There were quite a few of those on display, by the way, in the silent auction portion of the cocktails, housed under a white tent next to a dance floor, bar and deejay booth. There, works by the likes of John Baldessari, Dan Colen and Herb Ritts—many showing the male form in all its unclothed glory—were mixed in with Baume & Mercier watches and plush weekend carryalls. Perhaps inspired by images of such physical perfection, the one item with the most bids, at least early on, was a fitness package with trainer Louis Coraggio, including Barry’s Bootcamp sessions.
From left: Calvin Klein; Kelly Klein and Nick Manifold
Not that guests like Kelly Klein, Olivier Theyskens, Nacho Figueras and Calvin Klein had to worry: food wasn’t terribly easy to come by or in large quantity when found. But the party was packed despite the 90 degree heat, perhaps because as Helen Schifter explained, contrary to my personal trek, the benefit had a feeling of laissez-faire to it.
“It’s so nice because it’s a charity, but you can just roll in from the beach,” she said, looking much more like she rolled in from a well-stocked closet.
Others were, well, more audaciously clothed (or not). One fellow was topless, save for a cropped leather vest. Another had a red kerchief around his neck. And muscle tees and barely there tank tops abounded.
From left: Olivier Theyskens; Rodger Berman and Rachel Zoe
I had some fun playing a game of Where’s Waldo, the Steven Klein version. The elusive photographer supposedly popped out of his house early on, then disappeared, reemerging after I’d already left. His grounds certainly provided quite a lovely scene, with a fire pit going and a pool lit by candles.
It was unfortunate I had to leave so early into the night, but alas, my Jitney beckoned. Though Juanita, did not. Instead, my friend and I stumbled upon a limo driver, Patrick, there waiting for a bachelorette party of girls to return from their follies, who in the interim ushered us into his car after clearing the back area of their detritus. Sketch city, but we were desperate.
Part-way through the drive, I felt a furry thing fly over the divider between the front and back seats and land on my arm. Lucy, his shitzu, who apparently keeps him company up front. And likes pink bows in her hair. She promptly collapsed on me for the rest of the ride, which fortunately got us to the Jitney stop with minutes to spare.
Come fall, I will probably bemoan again the hours I clock rotating between the Plaza hotel, Cipriani and Lincoln Center. But hopefully I’ll have the wherewithal to recognize how lucky I am not to have to rely on Juanita for my ride home.
Photos: Patrick McMullan Company
The central bar area
Located on a quiet strip of Bedford Avenue, in solid L-train territory, the bar is a backroom addition to the farm-to-table restaurant The Bedford, which opened last spring under executive chef Blake Joyal, in a space once occupied by a coffee shop and before that, Beacon’s Closet.
While the dining area is all light wood and exposed brick walls with mounted film-set ready spotlights, the Bar is its darker, more mysterious cousin (both come courtesy of designer Crystal Taylor). The ceiling and walls are a lovingly restored, pressed tin, painted over to matte out any sheen. Floors of reclaimed wood act as a base for European café-style synthetic leather chairs (the real stuff is too expensive for potential spillage) and round marble tables, bookended by living room-esque lounge areas of tufted armchairs. Vintage mirrors dot the walls, which are illuminated by custom lights, some strung from old barn gliders.
The Bar’s garage heritage is evident in other industrial elements: an I-beam bar made out of old door frames and original metal beams in the ceiling. Though a more whimsical touch comes in the sliding library ladder that bartenders use to reach the top shelves, crowded with wine bottles. On busier nights, they often resort to swinging from the bar’s red poles like kids in a jungle gym.
The drinks and food help cater to this iniquitous mood.
“It’s like an upscale gastropub,” explains one of the co-owners, Sean Rawlinson of the Bar’s separate menu of easy to eat fare like local bluefish tacos, arancini and kielbasa the building’s landlord makes upstate. Rawlinson would know, seeing as he lives just upstairs, a move that has prompted a wardrobe adjustment.
“These are my Williamsburg glasses,” he jokes of his thick black frames.
Those may give him some neighborhood style cred, but it’s his drinks that will clearly win over its residents (the cocktails are the same for both the restaurant and back room because really, why mess with a good formula?). A sommelier and mixologist by training, he knows his way around a shaker and quickly has his tattooed bartender Matt Rodgers give me a sampling while he sips a German Kolsch draft beer (it is, after all, 4pm).
Comfortable lounging options
First up is the Lovely Day, made with thyme infused lemonade spritzer, Luksusowa vodka and prosecco. It’s like summer incarnate.
“I’ve tried to stay local and seasonal, but also have drinks that aren’t overwrought,” explains Rawlinson. “There’s a few places in this city where you walk in and you’re like, ‘I’ll have that drink and while it takes you 25 minutes to make it, can I have a beer so I have something to drink?’ I like to keep my drinks very simple, very clean and no more than three steps for the bartender.” (There is also a very well-priced selection of wines by the glass, like a $7 Australian Riesling and an $8 Spanish Tempranillo.)
So easy, in fact, that we’re on to the next drink in minutes (no, I didn’t finish every last sip of each. Yes, I left considerably jollier than when I entered. Lovely Day, indeed.).
The Gin Ricardo packs a bit more punch, with a mix of Bulldog gin, muddle basil, fresh lime, soda and a salty spicy rim containing cayenne and cumin.
“You can’t taste the booze, I’m a big fan of that,” says Rawlinson. He’s right. I can’t. Danger looms.
Last up is his riff on a whiskey sour, the Bedford Sour: rye whiskey, fresh lemon and orange juices, egg white and bitters. Fortunately, in this one the alcohol is a bit more present. Though it’s nothing like the Old Fashioned’s many of his neighbors are downing even in the summer. Not Rawlinson.
“The big heavy whiskey drinks? I don’t drink them,” he says, confessing to a preference for “girly drinks.” “I have to save something for when my life really sucks, when I have a bad day, one alcohol that I really need.”
Donna Karan with Nora Zehetner
Shen Yun is a New York based group, formed in 2006 with the goal of reviving classical Chinese dance, singing and music. Since their inception they have toured the world and even performed earlier this year at the London Coliseum for an audience that included HRH Princess Micheal of Kent, HRH Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of York and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
The crowd gathered at the David H. Koch Theatre was a bit more, shall we say, mixed. There was one royal in the crowd, Prince Dmitri of Yugoslavia, who stood up to greet Salman Rushdie and his delicate date. Kelly Rutherford made an entrance carrying a mini black Hermès Kelly bag (so clever, right?) along with her date’s hand, while Paulina Porizkova arrived with her two nattily dressed, shaggy haired sons and her equally shaggy husband Ric Ocasek of The Cars.
The show’s start time was delayed thanks to President Obama (an announcement made in both English and Mandarin, how often does that happen?), but things soon got under way with the first of multiple vignettes, “When Kings Followed the Creator to the Earth,” a dance involving fog machines and an animated screen, depicting everything from ancient Chinese buildings to an intergalactic ride past planetary bodies.
And the bilingual action continued throughout the spectacular proceedings—which included the stunning “Plum Blossom” and “Nymphs of the Sea” and the energetic “Drummers of the Tang Court” and “Chopstick Zest” dances—as the first-name-only suited Jared and Kelly acted as game show-esque emcees, doling out instructional tidbits in both English and Mandarin.
A Mongolian chopsticks piece from the summer of 2010
“Jared, what happened in the Tang dynasty?” queried Kelly (who like Vanna White or Anna Hathaway at the Oscars, changed her dress during intermission). She later chided him on his pronunciation after teaching the audience how to say “there” and “not there” in Mandarin.
“They say it better than you,” she mocked.
The select group of guests got an even closer experience with Shen Yun at a post-performance party on the theater’s Promenade, where a small bar doled out wine, while two tables offered a somewhat beguiling selection of mozzarella sticks, burgers, chicken tenders and a few sushi rolls accompanied by Asian desserts (not a chopstick in sight, by the way). A central table, from the midtown eatery Radiance, gave out tea samplings.
Michelle Guyun performing in 2010
Select company members, in Asian dress, mingled through the crowd, each accompanied by a translator. Peter Marino and Karan took a considerable interest in two of the male performers after having a bit of a lovefest in which the leather-clad Marino humped Karan from behind and she declared, “This hottie is ready to dance.”
Marino, ever the architect, seemed especially curious about the dancers’ take on the environment.
“How did they like the theater?” he asked. “There’s no aisles down the middle. Could they see the audience better?”
Karan asked them about—what else?—Tibet and the Dalai Lama (remember, this was an Urban Zen event).
They, in turn, asked her, through the translator what she liked best about the performance.
“I love when it gets into the soul,” she replied. “It’s in respect to a higher self.”
“Oh my god, you are a really special, spiritual person!” exclaimed the delighted translator who quickly relayed this information to her guards.
Umm. I mean, Om.
Photos: Karan: Patrick McMullan; others: Courtesy of Shen Yun