|Looking north along Broadway from Wall Street. Photo: JH.|
|Very warm Saturday, like late Spring. Everyone was out and in their glory. Sunday it turned chilly-ish, with overcast skies and a silvery light softened by the clouds of pear blossoms that line many of the neighborhood streets of Manhattan.
The Thursday night before Christian Lacroix, the French couturier came to New York for the official opening of his boutique at 36 East 57th Street (between Park and Lex). The shop actually opened a while ago but this is the first opportunity M. Lacroix has had to get here. Also he hates to fly. Hates it.
However, Lacroix hired Vanessa von Bismarck to handle the opening and the dinner following that. VvB works hard and I’ll vote for that.
I got there about 7:30 (it was 6 to 8). The champagne was flowing. A lotta faces I didn’t recognize. I’m an alien shopper; I practically don’t know what I’m looking at. So I asked Somers Farkas about it. She loves Christian Lacroix anyway, and she loves his bold colors.
Somers and Jonathan had arrived a few minutes after me. And then Blaine Trump came in looking like a movie star in a (Michael Kors) white dress that explained everything Blaine and simple. Then Muffie Potter Aston came in and took one look at Blaine and told her how she’d ordered that dress and then forgot about it and then went back a few months later and they couldn’t find it.
But she’s gonna get it, and especially after seeing Blaine in it. Then Dana Hammond came in with Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos. “I’m her escort tonight,” Dana said of Dayssi. “Or she’s mine.” Dana’s Dr. Patrick opted out. It was a fashion dinner.
|Right after the group shot, Blaine Trump offered me a ride down to the Gramercy Park Hotel where the dinner was scheduled for the Rooftop Garden.
We were one of the first there. Besides M. Lacroix. He and Blaine had a reunion. He’d made something for her a number of years ago when he made his debut in America. They are old friends. The designer has a ready smile but also seems like one of those people who just gets on with it. The wild part is in the clothes, not in the man.
|The table settings.|
|Lapham’s Quarterly has come out with its second edition. The Quarterly a new magazine, started by Lewis Lapham, editor, writer, social commentator who is no Spring chicken but a good example of the advantages possible in life by keeping your head on your shoulders with eyes and ears open.
Readers may recall reading about the first which was on the subject of WAR. This one is about MONEY. For those shrinking non-intellectual violets out there, you don’t need to be a deep reader, philosopher or financier to find this interesting. After all, money is what it’s all about. (“What what’s all about??” you might ask indignantly? Why, about us, naturally.)
It probably helps if you’re one of those people who like to learn what others have thought or done about something. In this case, money. I am one of those people, always hoping I’ll learn something that I didn’t know, that may enhance the way I look at things.
When the Depression came to Detroit, about ten years after this article was written, things got so bad that ole Henry Ford issued scrip for his workers to use as money until the banks got their acts together again. Prescient he was and prescient he would be today. And likely unappreciated for it.
Learning. When Henry Ford finally went off and built his Model T which revolutionized transportation and eventually our society, very few saw the automobile as anything other than a toy. Speed was the main attraction, and speed as entertainment. That confounded Henry’s sensibilities, but he went out and entered the race anyway, beating out a man named Arthur Winton, an Ohio manufacturer.
When ole Henry died on April 7, 1947, at 86, he had something like $36 million in his checking account, which in terms of today’s currency would be like having about a half billion in your checking account. He also owned the Ford Motor Company (it literally went public over his dead body).
That last bit of information is not in Lewis Lapham’s Quarterly on Money but there is so much much more that is, you won’t even notice.
Which reminds me; while noticing: Daphne Merkin’s piece yesterday in the Sunday Times Magazine (Fashion and Beauty Spring 2008) about the d’Ornano family of France who are in the skin care and cosmetic business (Sisley). The first generation in the business was Count Guillaume who founded Lancome. After that came Orlane (founded by the sons) and now there is Sisley.
|Readers may remember we had the opportunity to visit the d’Ornanos’ lavishly cozy apartment on the Quai d’Orsay in Paris a couple of years ago. It was a sensational place to see, and Countess d’Ornano who was hostess was so quietly gracious and matter-of-fact about the things she liked. I had no idea at the time that she played such a decisive role in the family business. A very aristocratic woman – by which I mean, a person without pretense of self-importance -- she was the picture of an American’s imagination of what a very likeable French countess would be.
We didn’t meet the Count during that visit, although I’d previously met their son Philippe at a cocktail party at Jill Spalding’s a few years ago. He too was surprisingly unaffectedly pleasant.
Reading Merkin’s piece you realize these are people with a refined sense of the good life and a common sense for business that is not unlike ole Henry Ford’s. Service will get you everyting. The d’Ornanos obviously have a mind for it. They also have an extraordinarily spectacular apartment in Paris that reflects that. Click here  for our visit to Countess d’Ornano's apartment.
|If you think getting myself out of the house on Thursday night, forget Sunday. However, it was for a good good cause. It was billed as “Savoring Citymeals; A Casual Sunday Supper.”
This was the 10th anniversary Gala Dinner and Auction hosted by Daniel Boulud, the chef and founder of Restaurant Daniel to benefit CityMeals-on-Wheels.
For that I guess I could leave the house on Sunday night. CityMeals is an excellent charity: it demonstrates the imagination and initiative at its sleekest. You’ve heard the story: Gael Greene, James Beard and some friends were thinking of people who had no place to go and no meals perhaps on Thanksgiving. Their own lives were so full of abundance that someone had the bright idea of considering their brothers and sisters.
Five dollars will provide a hot meal for a homebound person in New York. All the money goes to the meals.
|There was an auction conducted by Gail Simmons involving the chefs of Daniel – Jean Francois Bruel of DANIEL, Gavin Kaysen of Café Boulud, Olivier Muller of db Bistro Moderne, Damian Sonsonetti of Bar Boulud, newly opened across from Lincoln Center, and Eddy Leroux of DANIEL.
The items up for auction were: a Cocktail Reception in Your Home from Bar Boulud for 30 guests including wines. That went for $15,000. Dinner for 12 by Olivier Muller, Executive Chef of db Bistro Moderne. That sold for $13,000. Dinner for 12 in your home prepared by Gavin Kaysen, Executive Chef at Café Boulud -- five course paired with Beringer wines – went for $20,000. Dinner for 12 in Your Home by Jean Francois Bruel of Restaurant Daniel went for $23,000 with paired wines presented by DANIEL’s Sommelier Phillipe Marchal. And then there was a special sale: 10 tables of 6, $10,000 each, for a meal by Daniel Boulud at the Restaurant. They raised $489,000 last night.
Gael Greene was there last night. (The woman behind the glass of red.) For a woman of such great achievement in making a difference in the lives of so many thousands and thousands of people, I am always amazed at the unassuming manner that decribes her personality. It’s like: “well someone had to.”
|I missed out on the cocktail reception which featured tastings from the four Daniel chefs. There were two main courses, served alternately: Roasted Alaskan Halibut, white Asparagus and Three Pea Puree, Morel Jus from db Bistro Moderne; and from Bar Boulud: Butter Poached Maine Lobster, Green Asparagus, Chanterelles Ramps, Sauce Americaine. That’s what I was served. Along with Au Bon Climat XXVth Anniversary – Nuits-lanches au Bouge 2005. This was followed by the main course From DANIEL: Tasting of Baby Lam, Swiss Chard Stuffed Anelli, Sicilian Green Olives, Rosemary Jus; and from Café Boulud: Moroccan Spiced Squab, Toasted Cous Cous, Raisins Almonds, Preserved Lemon Harrissa Vinaigrette, served with Hirsch Vineyards M Estate Pinot Noir 2006. I was served the lamb. All excellent and wonderful wines.
Restaurant Daniel is only one of his restaurants now. There are a total of four in Manhattan, one in Palm Beach, one in Las Vegas, and coming up, one in Peking. I was seated next to his wife Micky at dinner. She looks like a woman in her mid-30s but they have an eighteen-year-old daughter who is now in college. Micky grew up in Lausanne, the daughter of an American father and a French mother. She met Daniel in a jazz club in Chelsea about twenty years ago. She’d gone there with friends and he happened in after his kitchen closed (he was working at Plaza Athenee at the time). She told me that that when she first saw him in the room, she knew “that was the man I was going to marry.” This was before she met him. Daniel is a restaurateur now, in the words of his wife. Micky doesn’t cook much. When she has guests to dinner they much prefer dinners prepared at DANIEL. Micky is quite pleased with them too.