Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution: A Splash of Hedonism

I grew up visiting the Plaza Hotel on every one of my trips to NYC, bought more Eloise paraphernalia in the erstwhile Plaza gift shop than I'd like to admit, and celebrated two birthdays with high tea in the Palm Court.

A few days ago I visited the Plaza for the first time in nearly two years and was so distraught to see only the remnants of its former glory. The many floors of the historic hotel were recently gut-renovated and converted into apartments, while the first floor was turned into a gallery of retail shops. The only upside to this change is the month-old Eloise shop.

Now that the location of some of my best birthday memories consists of only a few spare tables and chairs, I've decided I need to find another place to enjoy my tea in NYC.
There are many New Year's Resolutions I'd like to make, especially because 2010 marks my 25th year (and because I'll be wearing a bikini on a beach in a few weeks' time), but since I'm unlikely to KEEP many of them, I'm making one resolution I believe I CAN keep:
Sample every high tea in Manhattan.

I have many places in mind, and will blog about them when I go. If you have any recommendations, I am ALWAYS happy to hear them!

So often our New Year's Resolutions are ascetic and rigid, and it's no wonder we dread them and often can't maintain them. Most of us would do well to have a little more fun in our lives. So in general, I resolve to be more of a hedonist this year:

-Attend the ballet more often
-Read more books
-Travel as much as I am able
-Sleep a little later
-Curl my hair if I feel like it
-Drink a little more champagne
-Keep taking long walks around my beloved NYC

And I hope you do too.
Best wishes for 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Visions of Dew Drop Fairies Danced in My Head

(Reichlen as Sugar Plum Fairy in a past season)

Last week the Bunny's mother treated me to a very special NYC experience: a performance of George Balanchine's "Nutcracker" at the City Ballet.
She couldn't have given me a more perfect gift; ballet is one of the true loves of my life.
As soon as we selected our attendance date, I compulsively checked the dancer casting on NYCB's website until it was posted. I am the balletomane described in the first few paragraphs of THIS article. But what a delight! Teresa Reichlen, one of the best dancers I've ever seen, was to dance the role of Dew Drop Fairy!

I first saw Ms. Reichlen this summer when she danced an incredible piece entitled "Bleeding All Over You" with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company. She made such an impression on me that, looking back on my blog post from that event, I'm shocked that I didn't comment upon her dancing at all.

It's not often that I can remember exactly HOW a dancer moves.
I frequently leave a performance with general feelings and impressions about a dancer's artistry.
But Teresa Reichlen's movements were so singular that every aspect of the specialness of her dancing was burned into my mind. Her great lyrical sense allows her to play with the music's measure, drawing out special characteristics in the score that might otherwise go unnoticed; pairing this with beautiful movement only underscores how imaginative and invaluable dancing is as an art form. As Gia Kourlas of the NYTimes noted in 2008, "To enhance her dancing with a touch of rubato — a kind of teasing or playing with the music — she uses her elegant limbs to slow down moments or stretch them out like taffy." You see her dance and cannot imagine that she should move in any other way. There is nothing false, phony, or forced about her movements or her performance (a problem, in my opinion, with many of City Ballet's dancers); it's a glorious thing to behold.

In 2004, following her debut as Dew Drop, the NYTimes said:

Teresa Reichlen was Sunday's exhilarating new Dewdrop, exciting in her boldly assured dancing and its blend of opposing qualities. Regal, with long, lean body lines and snapping finishes to her arm gestures, Ms. Reichlen was also musical, with serenely held balances, making for a look of skinny voluptuousness.

In a New York Times review from June 2009, Alistair Macauly said:

It is good to have had, at City Ballet, some debut performances that truly cleansed the palate. No more radiant example of this comes to mind than Teresa Reichlen’s performance last weekend in the lead role of George Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco.” Ms. Reichlen is a tall, pure blonde with small head, long neck, clean line and easy stretch, the kind who looks bred to Balanchine’s specifications, though taller than most. Her dancing is so unmannered and so selfless that at first it’s hard to know what to say about it. Instead you find yourself watching the choreography with new attention...Afterward you realized that the very air onstage had seemed different from the moment of Ms. Reichlen’s entry: her dancing has a quality of springtime bloom.

And, the best of all reviews, came in February of this past year:

I have stated my general impression that the company is on the way up since the doldrums it hit between 1991 and 2002. One day I took a friend to a matinee; he had begun to follow the company before me and had followed it more closely during those dim years than I. Was I right that things had improved, I asked? He said simply, “Ten years ago there was no Teresa Reichlen.”

Happily, City Ballet rewarded her hardwork and EXCEPTIONAL talent with a promotion from Soloist to Principal dancer in October of this year.

I look forward to seeing many more of Ms. Reichlen's performances across what I hope will be a VERY long career. And I am so grateful to MCL (Bunny's Mom!) for the gorgeous, generous gift; it's a Nutcracker I'll always remember!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gossip Girl Takes Over

One of the best things about NYC is how frequently TV and movie companies take advantage of the city's backdrop (and the tax break they get for filming here!). Nearly every week I stumble upon trailers, lighting fixtures, craft services, and camera crews preparing to film anything from TV series like "Ugly Betty" and "Law and Order" to films like "New York, I Love You" and the less interesting "Step Up 3-D.

For the past two days, "Gossip Girl" has taken over my museum.
This isn't the first time I've encountered the GG gang. They used to film all the time around my old office in the Gramercy neighborhood (many scenes this past season have taken place on Irving Street).

But the fact that they were filming INSIDE of my museum somehow made today more exciting and brought out the starstruck side of me.

The plot, it seems, is that the last Bart Bass bequeathed a collection of Hudson River paintings to our museum, and they are having an event to name a wing in his honor. It's a totally legit idea.

Here's what I saw:

Our Events Office was converted into the Green Room:

Second floor taken over by wires, set building materials, lights, cameras, the whole shebang; there's a "Gossip Girl" directors chair folded and thrown on top of the stack at the far left.

Outside, craft service trucks and costume/makeup trailers lined the street:

This notice was posted on the makeup trailer door. I could hear barking as I walked by. Hilarious:

Normally I have great celeb karma. In fact, I like to say that I have a sixth sense about celebrities and can "feel" when they're near me (yes, I realize that this is an utterly ridiculous claim and also a pointless talent). At any rate, if you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I truly DO see my fair share of celebs. Unfortunately yesterday my stars didn't quite align. I caught a 2-nanosecond glimpse of the gorgeous Kelly Rutherford (aka Lilly Bass Van der Woodsen Humphrey). My co-workers fared better than I did. Some saw, and also chatted with, Dan, Chuck, and Blair. I've seen Blake Lively (Serena) and Connor Paolo (Eric) in other parts of town, but didn't catch them altogether yesterday.

Ah well. I'm mostly excited to see my museum in all of its glory when this episode airs--probably sometime in March. Keep an eye out and I'll keep you posted!

You know you love me,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Do the Right Thing: A Wealth of Easy Options

Lately I've been inundated by requests to vote for various charities in the

The idea is simple enough:
1) Access the Chase Community Giving application on Facebook.
2) You're given 20 votes to support needy charities.
3) You can search for charities that fit your interests, or search for specific charities you know the names of.
4) Place your votes by TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8
5) The winning charity receives $5,000,000!
I don't want to force anyone to use votes on causes they don't believe in, but here are four amazing contenders vying for the prize, and doing great work year-round on small budgets, that you may want to consider:


Founded in 1994 as a reaction to the lavish birthday party scene in NYC, CFC teaches children the important life lessons behind community service and provides opportunities for kids as young as 3(!) to get involved and make a difference in their community.


Click HERE to read a previous blog post about this father/daughter-founded charity, inspired by my friend's desire as a little girl to make a difference in the life of a homeless man. Though a child is small, just like a penny, in large numbers an enormous difference can be made!


Click HERE to read a previous blog post about this AMAZING film and project, which coalesce around an incredible teen named Darius Weems and his struggle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. (Incidentally, this DVD makes an excellent gift for the holidays and it will make you laugh, cry, and, hopefully, consider things from a different perspective.)


By providing learning opportunities through after-school programs, an Online Leadership Program, and a variety of venues and means, GK helps provide under-served students with the opportunity to become good students and great citizens.

Do the right thing! Your vote could make an ENORMOUS difference for any of these 4 charities above, and you will have 16 more opportunities to make a difference for other organizations, too!

Karma is a boomerang.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

La Joie de Vivre through Alber's Lens

I'm very behind on blogging! Planning to make a few posts tonight because there are so many fun things that have happened or that I've encountered in the last few weeks that I want to make a record of.

Right now, though, I want to share some recent, and of course whimsical, drawings by Alber Elbaz. The designer behind the magnificent pieces rolling out of Lanvin, Alber has prolifically put colored pen to paper and produced many wonderful drawings for public consumption:

The invitation for last weekend's Bal du Crillon:

(via Jane at Sea of Shoes. Her blog is, without a doubt, my favorite daily read.
She debuted at Le Bal in a bespoke Chanel gown. I'm so delighted she got to have this incredible experience, and handled it with such grace!)

A special tote in honor of Lanvin's 120th anniversary:

(Thanks, MVG, for showing me this adorable, if expensive, little nugget!)

La Poste Stamps

Only a few minutes ago Women's Wear Daily announced that Alber has also designed limited-edition stamps for France's postal system to honor Lanvin's 120th.
They'll be available for purchase early next year.

Alber is adorable. I can't think of many other designers who can create both sophisticated dresses and such light-hearted drawings; he really is a true talent.