Along the Avenue
It seems a nanosecond from Le Debut to the Debutante Club’s Presentation, but now, members of that pretty coterie await December – when their calendars really get crowded. It isn’t just the Deb Set that have kept the social wheels turning; museum supporters, preservationists and cheerleaders have been busy – very busy.
“O What a Night”, the annual Ogden Museum of Southern Art gala, kicked off the “benefit bashes” which made October so much fun. The museum’s formula – a patron party followed by dinner, an award, auction and live music – keeps fans coming back each year. This year’s event was co-hosted by Frances Fayard, Jennifer Heebe and Rita Benson LeBlanc. This year’s Opus award was given to actress, artist and collector, Jessica Lange, while the inaugural Ogden Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to local businessman and philanthropist T. G.
Solomon. If you missed it, remember the Ogden has something musical on tap almost every Thursday night.
NOMA followed the tried and true for its 45th Odyssey Ball, “Art Lives,” where Director Emeritus E. John Bullard and Director Susan M. Taylor applauded the museum’s great collectors and great patron’s of the last 100 years. A bravo and more to Sydney and Walda Besthoff, Mrs. and the late Mr. Frederick Stafford, the families of Kuntz, P. Roussel Norman, Muriel Bultman Francis, Heebe-Russo and Morgan Whitney, as well as Dr. and Mrs. E. Ralph Lupin, whose foundation supports so many wonderful causes in the city. Decorator Juan Barona, his committee and Urban Earth made sure the museum looked its finest; Ralph Brennan’s group cooked up a storm; and Chris Burke, BRW and Fredy Omar’s Quartet made music throughout.
Meanwhile, in what may set the new standard, “Magic in the Moonlight” was held al fresco on a beautiful evening amid the hedges and flowers of our Botanical Gardens in City Park. Rene Fransen, immediate past-president of Longue Vue House & Gardens and Sandra Pulitzer, a veteran on the fundraiser committee circuit, rightly sensed it was time for a change. They dispensed with “duty dancing,” imported chefs and an endless array of auction items in favor of an evening where conversation and conviviality began with the first glass of bubbly. A lovely seated dinner, catered by chef James Corwell of Le Foret, was served on long, narrow tables. Guests previewed the newest installation for “Celebration in the Oaks;” there was but one auction item; and guests departed somewhat dreamily at a civilized hour. Ah, but then the guests of the Botanical Garden Society – among them George and Fran Villere, Herschel and Anne Abbott, Mario Villa, Carla Adams, Betsy Nalty, Sue Peters, Christopher and Christa Montgomery, Janet Tallerine, actress Blythe Danner and others of such note – treasure opportunities such as this.
This town has been chockablock with authors of authority. The first to arrive was Pamela Fiori, former editor-in-chief and now editor at-large of Town & Country Magazine. The keynote speaker at the Preservation Resource Center’s Heritage Club Luncheon and Renaissance Awards signed her latest, At Home with Town & Country, at the over-sold luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton. The night before, devoted PRC supporters gathered at the Garden District home of Hal Williamson and Dr. Dale LeBlanc. Mingling with Hearst’s Deb Shriver and Adler’s Tiffany Adler were the event’s co-chairs Mimi Bowen, Cece Villere Colhoun and Macon Riddle as well as Anne Redd, Dana Hansel, Peggy LeBorde, Jackie Derks and others chic and sleek.
Less than two weeks later, the internationally revered designer Carleton Varney, president of Dorothy Draper & Co., arrived to enthrall the Friends of Longue Vue House & Gardens at its design symposium. He also signed his book, In the Pink, after lunch, again at the Ritz-Carlton. Of course, there was a patron party the night before at the gracious home of the very gracious Mrs. George R. Montgomery where symposium co-chairs Denise Monteleone and Lydia Sneed shook hands with folks such as color genius Louis Aubert.
All this décor galore was the perfect way to wet our whistles for a “Winter Antique Show,” the first sponsored by and supporting the Louisiana State Museum. To be held at the Old U.S. Mint December 3-5, some 21 art and antique dealers will show under one roof. Of course there will be a patron party – a seated dinner “thank you;” that’s the way LA. State Museum Foundation President Tommy Westervelt and co-chairs Sally Nungesser and Darryl Gissel like to do things. Decorator to the stars and a few New Orleanians, Alexa Hampton, is set to sign her Language of Interior Design at Nadine Blake’s shop in the French Quarter on December 3 – it’s just a short walk to the antique show – then New York/New Orleans designer Thomas Jayne will sign his book The Finest Rooms in America at Nadine’s December 11.
All of this is a lead in to the PRC’s 35th annual “Holiday Home Tour,” which always has visitors lined up to see some of the best houses in the city – all dressed in their holiday best – December 11-12.
Heard something interesting for “Along the Avenue?”
If so, please send it to:
St. Charles Avenue
110 Veterans Blvd., Ste. 123 Metairie, La. 70005
Attn: Diane Sustendal
or e-mail: Diane@myneworleans.com.