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David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

8 October 2009

The wind at our backs yesterday in New York

Down at 583 Park Avenue, the beautiful Delano & Aldrich designed church, the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club held its 4th annual Purses & Pursenalities Luncheon. The event, which ran from 11:30 to 2 honored fashion designer Mary McFadden and Michelle Smith of Milly, a comparatively the new kid on the block in the fashion world. Emcee was Eric Javits.

Javits, the designer of handbags, hats and footwear, is the unlikeliest of milliners on appearance. Always well turned out, often by day in a double-breasted navy blazer, shirt and tie and charcoal grey pants, he looks very much like the upper class New York City prep school boy that he once was. Also he’s a soft-spoken gent with a ready smile and an ear for laughter. In his chosen profession, however, like his personality, his creations are very popular with the fashionable women of the social set in New York. He’s also a committed supporter of several charities and especially the annual Purses and Pursenalities.

The all white church sanctuary was bathed in pink for the occasion. It was a ladies lunch A to Zed, although there were a few fellows here and there. The table centerpieces were faux handbags made by some clever potter/sculptor, accessorized by a branch of orchids.

I saw Debbie Bancroft seated nearby pinch a blossom slightly to see if it were real. So I did. Indeed it was. The luncheon was good too, broiled chicken (perfectly cooked) with a couple of strips of cheddar laid out like a cross on top, accompanied by two stems of romaine sprinkled with a garlic sauce and planted in what looked like an onion ring. Was it the chef’s version of a chapeau? An homage to the building (a church) we were in Whatever, it was surprisingly good. I mean, really good.

Mary McFadden is one of the most unusual women
in New York, and maybe anywhere. She’s a completely creative personality, brought up in New York (in the apartment which now belongs to Susan and John Gutfreund) and a traveler of the world.

Born in 1938 (her bio states) she’s like Chanel in presence, timeless besides being eternally youthful, not only in looks but in point of view. She’s also a warm and friendly person, like the aforementioned Mr. Javits. Not one to tarry, as soon as she finished her acceptance speech, she picked up her coat at table and left the room. Going directly to JFK and a plane for Paris.

Michelle Smith told us how she’d been blessed with a childhood with a nurturing, hands-on mother and father. She reminded us that many children are not as fortunate to be so blessed and they are the ones the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club can help. Nurturing and encouraging is now often regarded as a tool to develop the competitive spirit in some households. In others, it is non-existent. For the children, to be successful it is always about caring.

This is a new and popular charity that makes a difference. It has a great committee list – the men and women who really get behind supporting the club. Such as: CeCe Black, Mark Badgley, Micky Ateyeh, Clo Cohen, CeCe Cord, Margo Langenberg, Stephanie Krieger, Allison Rockefeller, Tara Rockefeller, Mary Snow, Alison Minton, Jocelyn Javits (Eric’s sister), Amy Hoadley, Hilary Block, Courtney Arno, Harley DuPont, Mark Gilbertson, Martha Glass, Michael Bruno (of 1st Dibs which sponsored the luncheon), Cynthia Lufkin, Wendy Carduner, Anne Ames Somers Farkas, James Mischka, Rob Caldwell, Mary Van Pelt, Christine Schott, Monique Merrill, Christine Aharonian, Dr. Sharon Giese and Margo Takian, to name only a few.


Alison Minton, Kathleen Giordano, and Gail Karr.