August is a notoriously frustrating and mind-numbing month if you’re a member of the fashion industry. On the one hand, the entire European continent is on vacation and the already slow summer social circuit comes to a grinding halt. Yet, there are still articles to be written—good luck getting anyone on the phone—and New York Fashion Week looms on the horizon like the darkest of storm clouds, rendering designers sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated worker bees. What better time to throw a party?


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).

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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.


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).


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.