"DON'T you think fashion is basically over?" asked the humorist and expert Cynthia Heimel, back in the year 2004.
Well, fashion happens to be the biggest item in what we laughingly call "the civilized world" right now and it is the second biggest business in New York City - bigger than philanthropy, theater, culture, skyscrapers - everything. Fashion was happening last week at the New York Design Center where everybody went to see Gloria Vanderbilt's beautiful art works. (I did love this show and it lasts on 200 Lexington Avenue until Oct. 24th.) One of the works of art at this happening was Gloria herself, looking in her eighties better even than she looked in her 50's, 60's and 70's. She was fabulous, kissing Diane von Furstenberg, who was murmuring of the beautiful collages: "I must have one of these." I won't bother to list the many "somebodies" who attended, but my favorite of all was the designer Adolfo who used to make clothes for the likes of Nancy Reagan. He and I like to trade interesting, off-beat books usually seen only in the U.K. Also enjoyed seeing Sam Peabody of the famous Massachusetts/N.Y. families, who put on a brown fedora when he left. He is the rare man who still wears a hat in the fall and winter.
- Stayed up two nights late reading Lee Woodruff's new first novel "Those We Love Most" and couldn't decide if I liked it more, or the party that Mary and David Boies gave for her in their Sherry Netherlands view-to-end-all aerie last week. Lee is the steadfast wife of ABC News' Bob Woodruff; the man who was almost killed by an IED bomb when covering Iraq in 2006. (He is recovered but wasn't at the party because he was off in Asia with the royals, William and Kate. That part of his job could be dangerous too!) This high-in-the-sky, high finance, high powered get together boasted Christiane Amanpour, Brian Williams, Charlie Rose, Joel Klein, Jeff Fager, Veronique and Bob Pittman, Jim Haas, Louise Grunwald, Dr.Mitch Rosenthal, Sherrie Westin, Erica Jong, Kenneth Burrows, Joe Armstrong, Jim and Toni Goodale and many more I didn't glimpse. So, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Phoenix House, the Council on Foreign Relations, the N.Y. Times, "Sesame Street" and publishing were well represented. The author said she felt tongue-tied with so many good writers in the room. As a P.S. I'll say I liked the novel best! It is so heart-wrenchingly real and emotional. The author has given us a family to hold as our own, with all the agony and ecstasy of joy, sorrow, sudden death, alcohol use, intimacy, in-laws, infidelity, sibling rivalry, guilt, illness - you know, the wonders that modern life inflict. Somehow Lee makes us care about this family, a group that keeps surprising, blaming, forgiving themselves. I couldn't put it down. This fiction is certainly on a par with Lee's last book about her husband, a bestseller titled "In an Instant." If you spend a couple of nights with the Corrigans, you won't ever forget them!
- Let me say a word here about Lee's hosts, two lawyers who are heroic figures to those dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. David Boies has been called "a latter-day Clarence Darrow." It is not possible to do these two justice in a mere column; so I'll just comment on their joyousness, conversation and conviviality. When I came into their apartment I was blown away by many charming, humorous works of art. I was amazed to see two chairs separated by a long table. On the left chair, painted on the back were a tan dachshund's hindquarters; on the other chair, the half that eats. I was struck by this because although I am not a dog owner, I had bid farewell that very morning to one of the rare world-champion dachshunds in the history of Westminster. Ch. Dachsmith-Love's Diamedes won everything possible in the smooth-haired category. He was tan himself, 16 years old and retired and he seemed to be saying so long with these painted chairs. Sorry to seem sentimental now but I see that "World News Tonight" is giving us animal news each evening in order to end on "an upbeat" and the Daily News tabloid now has a critter corner. Animals are all the rage! I suppose that's because we have always, since the beginning of time, been so careless and cruel to them.
- IT'S HAPPENING tomorrow but it's by invitation only. The wonderful songwriter Marvin Hamlisch will be memorialized at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater in Juilliard. Scholarships will be announced in Marvin's name; he died all too soon. Such famous souls as Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Aretha Franklin, Michael Feinstein, trumpeter Chris Botti, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Lang Lang will do their best for Marvin! P.S. This will be the first time that Barbra, Liza and Aretha have performed at the same event. I am sure Marvin--up there in musical heaven--is thrilled by the historical significance of such a diva-happening. Well, just writing about it, I'm somewhat faint!