The sun making a quick appearance in Central Park. Photo: JH.
The rains finally came last night and washed away some of that remaining summer heat with mid-80 temperatures that seem odd, or at least uncomfortable for October.
I met a friend at Michael’s for lunch. The place was jumping. I first spotted Joan Collins in the front dining room, at a table with Nikki Haskell, Kelly Day (LA girls), LuAnn deLesseps, and Debbie Loffler. Right next door Brooke Hayward Duchin was with Marti Stevens, Hiram Williams, Alex Hitz and Peter Vaughan. On the other side of the Collins table Gerry Schoenfeld, the Shubert Theatre magnate was lunching with a friend and right next door to him Charlie Rose was presiding.
LuAnn deLesseps, Nikki Haskell, Joan Collins, Kelly Day, and Debbie Loffler
Meanwhile in the bay was the most interesting table in the room. Joe Armstrong was hosting a lunch for Elizabeth Edwards with Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper, Nora Ephron, Lesley Stahl, Michael Berman, his wife interior designer Victoria Hagan, and Hargrave McElroy.
Let me tell you something about the people whose names you might not recognize immediately. Hargrave McElroy is a very quiet-spoken gracious friend of Elizabeth Edwards, also from North Caroline, who travels with her on the campaign trail. Hargrave is Elizabeth’s best friend of 25 years and godmother to Elizabeth and John Edwards’ oldest daughter Cate (who is now at Harvard Law School). Michael Berman is very well known in media circles. He was a friend of John F. Kennedy Jr, with whom he started the magazine George. The idea was basically Mr. Berman’s and the title, Mr. Kennedy’s. His wife, Victoria Hagan is a prominent New York interior designer. It was through the Bermans that Joe met Elizabeth Edwards.
The Joe Amstrong table. Seated: Joe, Elizabeth Edwards, and Diane Sawyer. Standing: Hargrave McElroy, Michael Berman, Lesley Stahl, Anderson Cooper, Nora Ephron, and Victoria Hagan. Photo: Jimi Celeste.
Joe Armstrong gives these “media roundtable” luncheons every now and again. Probably the most famous one to the Michael’s clientele was when he brought together Bill Clinton, Bette Midler, Liz Smith, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal et al. That was a table a lotta people would have liked to be at just to listen. Although when Mr. Clinton speaks, almost everyone is listening, even the biggest yakkers.
It was after that luncheon and at Ann Richard’s funeral last year about this time in Austin that Joe ran into Senator Hillary who said to him, “why does he” (meaning Bill) “get to have a fun lunch, Joe?” So, last December he had a lunch for her.
A few weeks ago he had a lunch for Robert Draper (author of “Dead Certain” about President George W. Bush), and two weeks ago it was a lunch for Ken Burns whose new documentary has just been aired on PBS.
Now. What was said at table, I cannot say, for I was not there, although I could see that Elizabeth Edwards was very much a participant in the discussion. Later Joe told me, “I’m not endorsing anybody – these are just media rountables for media friends to meet each other.
The Armstrong table through the lens of Steve Millington for NYSD.
Mrs. Edwards, from the looks of her up close, is a very friendly woman, full of enthusiasm, looking very very well and healthy, I should add, despite her medical problems. She’s one of those people for whom a smile comes easily to her face. Not very tall, full-figured in charcoal brown pant suit, her approach to everyone was one of enthusiasm and pleasure at being present. This is a bearing and a presence of beautiful strength and joy. It is something to admire and consider for oneself.
What her effect was on Mmes. Sawyer, Ephron and Stahl, as well as Mr. Cooper, I cannot say. Many women in national politics today are skilled at playing the role of political wife. With the exceptions of Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan, who came from sophisticated, worldly environments, the First Ladies have all had an Every Woman aspect to their public personalities. That is also a skill, because like Jackie and Nancy, most are all worldly-wise, and worthy of the role.
The “liberations” of the past forty years have made it possible for intelligent, thoughtful women to engage actively in their husbands’ campaigns. And as we have seen since the Administration of JFK, and with the exception of the Nixon Presidency, the women have all played forceful and influential and at times very powerful roles in their husbands’ Administrations. That said, one could see Elizabeth Edwards very successfully in that role as partner to the nation’s leader.
Last night’s scheduled was to have begun with a book party for Ken Follett which was being hosted by Erica Jong. That was not how it turned out. I went to Ms. Jong’s apartment, not having looked at the invitation and assuming the party was there. The party was NOT there. I got the first hint when the doorman asked my name and commented “I’ll see if she’s home.” When I asked if anyone else had gone up (set for 6 to 8 pm and it was now 7), he shook his head. Meanwhile, the phone in Ms. Jong’s apartment obviously wasn’t picking up. So I missed it which made me early for my next appointment.
I was meeting Charlie Scheips at the Lowell on East 63rd Street where the jewelry department of his firm (Phillips de Pury) was having a small preview reception of their upcoming “Magnificent Jewels” Auction in Geneva, November 13th.
This preview was held in one of the Lowell’s private suites. Since I never attend this sort of thing, I was fascinated by the crowd. There were probably thirty guests, including only four men – me, Charlie, a security man and a husband. Everyone present was invited. Waiters in black served champagne or sparkling water. There were trays of cookies, (delicious) one-pop cupcakes, cheeses and crackers on a coffee table. And four lighted display cases surrounded by the viewers.
One rectangular sapphire ring, approximately 54.52 carats. Estimate: $50,000 - $66,667.
sapphire and diamond necklace. Estimate: $200,000 - $300,000.
The women were very smartly dressed, almost all in black (cocktail dresses, suits, -- and very chic, very international New York) European, Latin, Middle Eastern, and American; age range: late 20s upward. As were the women who were showing the jewelry.
I asked one of the Phillips staff if these women were potential bidders. Oh yes, definitely. With all my years of observing and the legions I have known who might fit the description, I am still amazed at the world of precious jewels. It is an ancient habit of our civilization, a custom, a tradition, that meets the “needs,” many needs of so many of us. Acquisition, accumulation, beauty, refinement, rare, precious, uplifting; all of these things operating at once, and very seriously. That’s what I was watching last night the Phillips preview at the Lowell. Couldn’t take my eyes off it all.
Multi-colored diamond necklace.
Three-row diamond necklace, approximately 171.36 carats. Estimate: $916,667 - $1,083,333.