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High Priestess of Fashion at the Parrish and Style Icons at the St. Regis

Originally Posted: May 04, 2006

Nicole B. Brewer

Gregory Speck and Mary McFadden at the Parrish.
Photo by John Wegorzewski.

In conjunction with its exhibition Power Dressing: Men's Fashion and Prestige in Africa, the Parrish Art Museum presented a special evening with a design legend - My Odyssey: Ancient African Civilization with Mary McFadden.

The elegant, ethereal looking Mary McFadden, no stranger to the Southampton crowd, took to the Parrish stage clad in one of her signature evening looks and immediately transported the audience back to ancient times to explain the roots of her design concepts.

Beginning with slides of an artfully draped torso found in a former Roman settlement in what is now Libya and native women in present day Benin, McFadden explained how she was influenced by the women's skills in draping single pieces of cloth when "there were no pins, no needles and certainly no scissors" Flashing onto one of her sumptuous late 70's gowns, one could easily see the Greco-Roman inspiration.

Blossom Gluck and Stan Gellers at the Parrish.
Photo by John Wegorzewski.

Switching easily between images of Africa artifacts to her own creations, McFadden artfully wove a fascinating story of a contemporary design philosophy deeply rooted in history. McFadden spoke passionately of her "beloved Africa, land of my first inspiration" pointing out how not only her draping came from the continent but many of her prints were based on tribal markings which Africans began to distinguish themselves from animals as well as Coptic manuscripts.

Long famed for her pleated evening wear in luxurious fabrics, she harked back to early centuries when royals wore brilliant white linen starched and pleated on a daily basis - only now the 21st century Ms. McFadden achieves the same effect with wrinkle free polyester chiffon!

McFadden who won her first Coty award in 1976 and has now joined its Hall of Fame was delighted at the turnout, which included dozens of family and friends from the East End, many of them wearing her exquisite jackets and dresses.

Susan and Alvin Chereskin at the Parrish.
Photo by John Wegorzewski.

Parrish Board Chairman, Alvin Chereskin proudly displayed his bow tie made from the silk of an 18th Century kimono and pointed to his wife Susan and the Museum's Executive Director Trudy Kramer clad in McFadden evening jackets also made from antique Japanese textiles. McFadden's cousin Justine Cushing wore a vintage black and gold embroided jacket from an earlier collection.

Following the informative and very interesting lecture, McFadden signed copies of her new book, Mary McFadden: High Priestess of Fashion...A Life in Haute Couture, Décor and Design featuring a gorgeous cover photo by the late Francesco Scavullo and packed with glorious photos of the design legend's life and work.

Seen in the enthralled crowd were Mildred Brinn, Nina Madison, Blossom Gluck, Annette Perelle, Anne DeBrigard, Mrs. Sam Campbell, James Fahnestock, and Anne Bricker.

Power Dressing: Men's Fashion and Prestige in Africa runs through May 28. The Parrish Art Museum is located at 25 Jobs Lane - Southampton, NY. For more information go to www.parrishart.org.

Sophia Loren, Charles Simonyi, and Martha Stewart at the
Russian National Orchestra Gala. Photo by Patriack McMullan.

Speaking about style, the Russian National Orchestra, the first and foremost independent orchestra of Russia, celebrated its landmark 15th anniversary with a spectacular gala at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan a few weeks ago. Sophia Loren and Martha Stewart were the evening's Honorary Chairs, serving along with International Chair Janna Bullock and Dinner Chair Marianne Wyman. The event honored Charles Simonyi, RNO benefactor and former Chief Architect of Microsoft Corporation.

Leadership Sponsors Janna Bullock, Tatiana and Gerret Copeland, Conrad Hock, Jr., and Peter T. Paul headed a long list of Anniversary Gala sponsors and contributors who helped raise more than $540,000 for the RNO Musicians Fund.

Sophia Loren and Martha Stewart presented Simonyi with the RNO's Silver Baton award for his pioneering work in technology and for his patronage of the arts. Sophia's talented son and daughter-in-law, Andrea and Carlo Ponti Jr. (he is an Associate Conductor of the RNO) were also there for the festivities.

Marianne Wyman and Rick Walker at the Russian National
Orchestra Gala. Photo by Patriack McMullan.

Susan Hutchison, Executive Director of the Charles Simonyi Fund for the Arts and Sciences, emceed a dazzling program that included performances from pianist Yefim Bronfman, cellist Nina Kotova, and violinist Mikhail Simonyan. Capping the musical interludes was the world premiere of Program Dances by RNO resident composer Andrey Rubtsov, performed by the RNO Strings Ensemble.

The gala was the centerpiece of a four-day celebration built around the RNO's Tchaikovsky Festival appearance at Lincoln Center. Hailed by the critics, the three concerts were led by Vladimir Jurowski, making his New York symphonic debut on the RNO's coast-to-coast Anniversary Tour. During the festival, there were also celebrations at Petrossian, featuring wines from Grove Street Winery and Peter Paul Wines; Café des Artistes, hosted by Jennifer and George Lang; and Café Grey, where a delicious dinner was enhanced by some of the world's most coveted wines, including 1980's Latour and Château d'Yquem from patron Tom Black's private cellar.

Kate Spade at Russian National Orchestra Gala. Photo by Scott
Rudd for Patrick McMullan.

At the St. Regis, mixing music with the stars, were Sharon Bush and Gerald Tsai, Rita Mehos, Kate and Andy Spade, Audrey Gruss, April and Roddy Gow, Pamela Fiori with her husband Colt Givner, John Wyman, Larissa Sidorova for sponsor MTS, Elizabeth Stribling and Guy Robinson, Carole Parsons Bailey with Mark Pasmentier, Somers and Jonathan Farkas, Jillian Sackler, Clo and Charles Cohen, furniture designer Barclay Butera, Elaine Sargent, Alice Judelson, Olga Rostropovich, Peter Lusk, The Starr Foundation's Gladys Thomas, Shelby White, Cees and Elly Bruynes, Christa Percopo, Barry Farber, Jennifer Acker of Samson Capital Partners, Lucy and Nathaniel Day, Barrett Wissman, who with the RNO is launching the Festival Del Sole in the Napa Valley this summer, and Mark Langrish on behalf of Stolichnaya, which donated its luxury "elit" vodka for the glamorous affair.

Visitors to Manhattan for the entire week of cultural excitement included Jude Blake, Deborah Hock, Russian Arts Foundation President Rick Walker, Barbara Roach, M. Lee Pearce, Laurie and Scott Oki, Donna Miller Casey, Quellos Financial Advisors' Michael Polenske, Arlene Inch, John and Caroline McCallister, Mallory Hill, Tom Thomson from The PBN Company, Norma Byer with her daughter Beverly, Mary Ann Pocapalia with daughters Maria and Diana, and Texans Lou Dunn Diekemper, and Mia and Jerry Maddoux.

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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