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A Flair For The Dramatic

Originally Posted: July 26, 2007

Nicole B. Brewer

Mary Skillern with Henry and Diane Feldman at the Skillern Cocktail Party. Photo by
John Wegorzewski

Anyone lucky enough to have been invited to the New York townhouse of Frank and Mary Skillern will tell you two things about the couple. They are consummate hosts and both are passionately devoted to the arts. Now ensconced for the summer in their Asian antique filled home on Downs Path in Southampton, the couple continues to toss the kinds of elegant, convivial and stylish bashes that have made an invitation to their home a must add to the calendar. This week was no exception as they welcomed the movers and shakers on the East End's art and culture scene for an al fresco sunset cocktail reception in their hydrangea filled English gardens.

Award winning Chef Robert Rizzuto and Pilar Visconti of NYIT's Gold Coast Caterers worked with Mary to devise a sumptuous menu for this affair that had more then a touch of the Great Gatsby.

Sipping on Veuve Clicquot or the new summertime refresher a sake infused vodka liqueur called Ty Ku were Suffolk County Director of Cultural Affairs Michelle Isabelle-Stark, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center director Claire Bisceglia, Artist Alliance of East Hampton president Tom Steele with wife Ellen Dooley, jeweler Eric Messin, producers Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley, Liza Delfavero, Dr. Martin and Nancy Stone, documentary filmmaker Lora Fox Gamble and husband artist David Gamble, Lynn Surry, Judy and Michael McDowell, Anna Wilding, Floral Butler's Denise Size and Ed Martin, Karl McDermott, Marlena and Sam Gershowitz, Andrew Wargo, artists Don Duga (as usual sketching the goings-on), Haim Mizrahi, and David Nadal, Anne DeBrigard, Amy and George Kane, Diana Weir, Ann LaWall, Eva Bouvier Beale who will soon release a book on her relative Edith Bouvier Beale, and popular radio host Ann Liguori. In a quiet corner of the library Cindy Braff was reading tarot cards for those who would like to know what the summer has in store.

Dr. Kevin Eggan, Jodie Eastman, John Eastman, Woody Johnson, and Susan
Solomon at a cocktail reception for the New York Stem Cell Foundation. Photo by
Ginger Propper

Jodie and John Eastman and Katama and Jay Eastman hosted a cocktail reception for the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) at Jodie and John Eastman's East Hampton home on Friday. The assembled guests heard NYSCF CEO and Co-Founder Susan Solomon, along with Dr. Kevin Eggan, investigator at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and NYSCF scientific director, speak about the potential of embryonic stem cell research to cure the major diseases of our time, the latest developments in the lab and on the political front, and the importance of private funding to advance this critically important science.

Southampton was literally teeming with street side activity from Lake Agawam Park to Main Street on Saturday. In the park the Southampton Artists Association held their annual outdoor show with some 50 artists displaying everything from seascape watercolors to handcrafted pottery. Literally hundreds took advantage of the beautiful weather to peruse the stalls and displays.

Kim Flynn, Maria, Carole Gravenese, and Gina Tartaglia at Scheky's Girls Day Out in
the Hamptons. Photo by Katrina Lovett

Summer in the Hamptons brings several things to mind, including great food, relaxing days on the beach, and great shopping for that perfect souvenir to compliment the summer wardrobe and remind us of warmer days as fall and winter settle in. While Super Saturday holds the crown for Hamptons Shopping extravaganzas, several other places are taking up the reigns for the shopaholics that want to practice their bargain spotting in advance.

Shecky's took over the lawn of the Southampton Historical Museum for their "Girls Day Out" shopping event, with table after table of fabulous handbags and clothes with price tags to make any fashionista on a budget's day. The wrap-around lawn with its smattering of stately trees sheltered the ladies - and a few brave men we spotted - from the hot afternoon sun as the bars handed out mini bottles of Korbel, Bud Light, Contrex Water, and Mojitos to sip while perusing the tables of hot deals.

Guests including Pamela Jackson-Jones, Stephanie Lamanno, Liz Salemi, Jen DiPietro, Kat Agaliotis, and Anne Seminella scoped out the sale. There was gorgeous jewelry from Heni Bendel, Irresistibles, and Danmar Designer Jewelry, Bella Oro, and Hip Chic Couture Watches, as well as artwork from the friendly folks over at the Lana Santorelli Gallery made for perfect signature pieces for your wardrobe and your house, while 'The Strapper,' designed to keep bra straps from sliding, drew many curious onlookers for the invention as well as their great $4 racer back tank top, a staple for any summer wardrobe.

While admission to the event was free, for a donation, with proceeds going to the South Fork Breast Health Coalition, guests also left with a goodie back full of more than $100 in gifts including hair care products from Redken, designer hangers, and books and magazines to curl up with on the beach.

Andre Poulin, Marianne, and singer Josh Kelley at Cocktails by the Bay for Miracle
House. Photo by John Wegorzewski

It was Cocktails by the Bay at the luxurious Peconic Bay home of Gerry Logue for the wonderful organization Miracle House which provides housing, meals and advocacy to caregivers and patients coming to New York for critical medical treatment.

E.J. Camp, Sean Cassidy, Gioia DiPaolo, Melanie Fleishman, Christiane Lemieux, Michael Selleck, Laura Weil, and Joshua Young headed the committee for this lovely family oriented event. Everywhere one looked there were tiny tots and dogs gamboling across the lawn, a scene right out of a Norman Rockwell painting!

Miracle House ambassadors Jesse Ramos and Matthew Wexler were wonderful hosts, more then compensating for the absent Oscar winning actress Joan Allen who at the last moment had to regretfully cancel her guest host chores. Delightfully present and mingling with the crowd was newly minted music superstar Josh Kelley who caught the attention of music industry honchos via his self produced videos that are all the rage on You Tube.

Elsewhere on the spacious lawn we chatted with one of our favorite radio personalities and regular player at the famed Artists & Writers baseball game Juliet Papa, Molly and Michael Vanderbilt, Peter Paranicas, Christiane and Josh Young, Klaus Lind, Wendy Israelite, Nicole Salimbene, Liz Wolff, Ronnette Riley, Andrew Lucas, Rachel Malamut, Kevin Graham, Marianne Goode, Tom Liebow, Alan Lindenfeld, Greg and Nellie Ramsey, Victoria Anstead, Jeff Carter, Gordon Hoppe, Leane Brenes, Brian Terkelsen, Stephen Byrne, Paige Novick, Lisa and Jeff Clyde.

The delightful evening overlooking the water was sponsored by the Morgans Hotel Group, Mondrian South Beach. Stoli Vodka, the official summer drink for Miracle House, provided the zesty cocktails.

Yoko Ono and Jack Lenor Larsen at LongHouse Reserve's summer gala. Photo by
Clare E. Bendall

The LongHouse Reserve Gala will be remembered as one of our favorite events of the summer. Upon walking into beautiful gardens we came across Dr. Barry Leibowitz, a board member who explained LongHouse was an "unexpected paradise." The evening was celebratory in many ways by honoring Jack Larsen's 80th birthday and the Reserve's 15th anniversary. Yoko Ono was being presented with a medal to honor her Crusade for Peace as the artist donated a "Wish Tree" to the grounds situated upon a sand hilltop. As guest walked into the party they were able to write down a wish and tie it to a branch of the tree. Ono will eventually take all the wishes she has gathered from around the world to Iceland where she will eventually fasten them to one large "Wish Tree."

For this special event, the gardens were expanded and new art was installed. Guests explored a path that took them past permanent sculptures from Yoko Ono, Roy Lichtenstein and Dale Chihuly, amongst others. Honorary chairs included Edward Albee, Mercedes Ruehl, and Cindy Sherman. More than 350 attended the sold-out gala and each was asked to come wearing a smile and their best summer whites with glitters of silver and which looked beautiful against the backdrop of the lush green grounds. The gardens and koi ponds looked pristinely manicured as Maria Pessino's Oddfellows Players performed on a life size chess bored titled 'Play it By Trust' designed by Ono while cellist Stanzi Vauble played the "Tango Safety Dance."

During cocktail hour guest sipped Prosecco and Mojitos, and enjoyed the oyster bar while perusing the silent action that included Emporio Armani watches, a Vespa scooter, and jewelry from Emilio Pucci. The heavy air from the previous three days had lifted and the grounds seemed to have made everyone feel relaxed, guest commented on how nicely the weather had cooperated for the evening. Sauntering into dinner came Tom Felicia who had just made a wish at Yoko Ono's Wish Tree.

During dinner guest were able to bid on items from a live auction that included a private cocktail party for 25 at LongHouse with food by Fresh Flavors and wine by Herbert and Rist, something we would have not minded winning! The evening capped off with after dinner drinks as guest danced to the Annie Morgan band under the stars.

The Summer Gala raised $350,000 with all proceeds supporting the LongHouse Reserve's mission to exemplify living with art in all forms. If you have never been to this magical place, a visit to LongHouse this summer is a must. LongHouse Reserve is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., from May to October 6th. During July and August LongHouse is open Wednesday through Saturday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Peggy Lauber, Chris Kiegiel, and Paul Kreiling at Chefs and Champagne. Photo by
Katrina Lovett

Chefs and Champagne took root on the lawn of Wolffer Estate this year, and they could have added a third C to their name for Cars as the Mercedes parked in the middle of the tent provided a stylish centerpiece and conversation starter. All around the tent, restaurants brought out their finest with samples of everything from chocolate covered fois gras Lollipops from Iacopo Falai at Falai and a scrumptious tomato salad from Andrew Engle at The Laundry Restaurant. There was a wide assortment of desserts to charm even the most discerning sweet tooth, our favorites included the decadent Chocolate Budino Pudding with Streusel crumb topping and Almond-Chocolate Biscotti from Nicole Kaplan at Del Posto, and a Summer Coconut Cheesecake with Blueberry Topping from Debra Racicot at Gotham Bar and grill that we could have gone back for thirds of if our waistlines hadn't protested.

With all of the choices, each restaurant worked hard to draw guests over to sample their food, and Sam Demarco from the Fireside at Omni Berkshire Place caused quite the commotion with all the quacking going on in their corner, handing out 'quacker' whistles to go with their duck themed choices of a Duck Breast Reuben, a Pulled BBQ Duck Sandwich. The Foie Gras Banh Mi had guests indluding Steve Beshara, Mitchell Davis, Michael Braverman and Raney J Erwin laughing between bites. 15 East chefs Marco Moriera and Masato Shimizu made it a family affair as daughter Francesca Moreira helped hand out the Sake-Braised Octopus with Tomato Tofu before settling down for a picnic with friend Elli Palladino.

Taking a breather between courses, guests browsed silent auction items including a gorgeous pearl necklace from Mikimoto, a Kitchen Design Consultation from Judy Friedman, A Turbo Chef Oven, and and assortment of pots and cooking utensils from All Clad and Viking to help create our own masterpieces at home helped raise funds for the James Beard Foundation, Dedicated celebrating, preserving, and nurturing America's culinary heritage and diversity.

John Makos, Tom Lampson, Maria Vlahakis, and George Gavalas at Hampton
Designer Showhouse. Photo by John Wegorzewski

Over in Bridgehampton, the annual Hampton Designer Showhouse to benefit Southampton Hospital was in full swing when we arrived. Strolling up to the quintessentially Hamptons home built by George Gavalas, who donated the house for this year's brilliant display of over a dozen of the area's most creative design talents, we couldn't help but to notice how perfectly the home was suited for its Ocean Road location.

Upon entering, we were blown away by designer David Scott's foyer with an extraordinary gilded cage-like chandelier. Peter Lentz' work on the sitting room was equally dramatic. Patrons strolled through the sumptuously decorated home the combined efforts of Zoya Bograd, Champion Lombardo Designs, Comerford Hennessy, Denyse Rinfret Interior Design, Duhallow Interiors, Greg Lanza, Jack Deamer and Elizabeth Bauer, Jennifer Flanders, Kathleen Hays, Celerie Kemble, Mark Epstein, Rick Livingston, Rena Fortgang, Rona Landman and Stephen Miller Siegel.

Honorary co-chairs for The Showhouse are Mrs. Catherine di Montezemolo and Mrs. Mildred Brinn. Honorary chair for the gala was Prince of Chintz, Mario Buatta and Hilary Geary Ross served as gala chair. Gary Crain was honorary design chair and Decorative Arts chair was James Alan Smith. Now in its seventh year, The Showhouse continues to be America's premiere showcase for both world recognized designers as well as emerging talent.

Swirling around the pool which featured a lovely waterfall were a host of the design world's top talents and their legions of fans including Gregory D'Elia, Megan Ruddy, Paul and Kriena Raffin, Matthew Pober, Trish Neve, Lauren Ezersky, John and Cathy Dransfield, June Kosow, Lisa Bowles, Steven Gambrel and Chris Connor, Wanda Innes, Leonard Barton and Jeffrey Katz, Edwin Cossitt and John Makos.

Houses of the Hamptons author Gary Lawrance, there with noted society portraitist,
Zita Davisson was very complimentary to the design of the shingled "cottage" and especially the views from poolside to the light strewn interior of the Gavalas house.
Nearby the Gavalas clan was out in full force to support the noted builder including: Alexis Petras, Anastasia Gavalas, Maria Vlahakis, Evie Koufakis and Joseph and Maria Leone.

Tom Lampson of design house Lorin Marsh, a major force behind the event, was the consummate host as always and continues to be a passionate longtime supporter of Southampton Hospital, the Showhouse beneficiary.

Murphy Davis and Richard Kind at the Bay Street Theatre annual Summer Gala
Benefit Bash. Photo by Katrina Lovett

Good fortune and blessings were the wish to all of the guests at the Bay Street Theatre annual Summer Gala Benefit Bash. Swathed in yards and yards of red fabrics the tent was aglow in the flavors of the Orient. The scent of orange blossoms filled the air ad the talented performers from Dance China NY entertained the crowd after the opening remarks by founder and Executive Director Stephen Hamilton.

The gregarious Richard Kind, who is starring in the upcoming Bay Street production of "The Lady in Question", roused the crowd during the live auction. Some of the fantasy items included rounds of golf with Richard Kind at the Hamptons most fabulous and exclusive courses, a wood sculpture by Randall Rosenthall, a vacation for two to Puerto Vallarta, a custom kitchen by Chelsea Fine Custom Kitchens, and tickets to the opening night performance of the new Mel Brooks musical "Young Frankenstein".

And just when you thought it was enough Richard got beyond excited at the last item for auction - a Princess Tea Party with Julie Andrews. Clearly he loves Ms. Andrews and reminded the audience that tea with Mary Poppins is a once in a lifetime event. Unfortunately for him the party was limited to little girls between the ages of 5 and 12.

The delicious menu crafted by the geniuses at Robbins Wolfe Eventuers included seared scallops, peanut chicken, and a variety of sides served family style matched wonderfully with wines from Channing Daughters Winery. Waiters rounded the room with trays of crispy spring rolls during dinner and then again with banana chocolate rolls for dessert. There were also sesame cookies and mini tapioca parfaits.

What party is a party without music? Directed by Scott Rednour, members of the Manhattan School of Music - Tim DeWitt, Amy Orsulak, and Susannah Stayter - performed a variety of arias intended to embrace the audience. As always the Hank Lane Revue had the masses including B. Smith and Dan Gasby, Tony and Emma Walton, Briget LaRoy, Sag Harbor Village Mayor Gregory Ferraris, Joe Pintauro, Arthur Tanturri, Fred Thiel, Robert Zimmerman, Bonnie Comley and Stuart Lane, and scores more were up and dancing until the wee hours.


Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com HamptonsOnline NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer


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