An Evening of Kickoffs and Launches

Well, we have survived yet another week of the U.N. in session and have lived to tell about it. Everyone has their horror stories. But I think most of us learned to avoid any kind of transportation that is not absolutely necessary. This was made easier for some, as last week also coincided with Yom Kippur, resulting in a relatively quiet couple of days. By Thursday, things had picked up again, and Obama left town... although the Escalades were still out in full force and several streets were still blocked.

I stayed in my Upper East Side enclave during the day, where I had two consecutive meetings over iced coffee (in retrospect, not such a good idea). Around 6 o'clock, I ventured "downtown" -- 58th and Park, to be exact -- to the Chinese Porcelain Company, which hosted the kick-off party for the Casita Maria "Fiesta" Benefit in celebration of Honorees Lilly Scarpetta de Pumarejo, Pierre Durand and the legendary Italian jeweler Marina B. Approximately 30 minutes and three detours later, I arrived at the intimate cocktail fete, where I was introduced to ever-chic ladies like "Casita" Chairman Jacqueline Weld Drake, who wore a pair of rose-cut diamond "duster" Marina B. earrings that once belonged to Elizabeth Taylor. Muffie Potter Aston and Tiffany Dubin were among the other guests who lit up the room in Marina B jewels. The Chinese Porcelain Company provided display cases for the rest of the jewels not adorning the necks and wrists of the social swans in attendance. All of the pieces were on sale that evening, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to Casita Maria. The actual "Fiesta" will be held on October 16th at the Mandarin Oriental.

From the Porcelain Company it was a quick walk to Madison Avenue's Montblanc, where the Princess Grace Foundation Board of Trustees and co-chairs, H.R.H. Princess Firyal, Renee Fleming and Tim Jessell hosted a special cocktail reception in anticipation of the 2012 Princess Grace Awards 30th Anniversary Gala on October 22, honoring Lynn Wyatt, actor Patrick Page and sound designer Darron L. West. Yes, it was another "kick-off" party, courtesy of one of the primary sponsors of the main event. As for why they have become essentially a rite of passage for any major New York charity? Well for one, they are fun, well-produced events that are hard for the philanthropically and socially inclined New Yorker to resist. But they also build a crucial buzz, as the majority of ticket sales for many of these events occurs in the final few weeks. And sometimes, the kickoffs are a thank you for all those involved. "Partying with a purpose," as people like to call it.

Finally, I hailed a taxi from Montblanc and jetted to hotspot No. 8, where my long-time fave Etro partnered with Manhattan Magazine to celebrate the launch of Manhattan's September issue. The collaborative event was hosted by Manhattan's newly minted Editor-in-Chief, Cristina Cuomo, and Fashion Director James Aguiar. The party celebrated the September cover featuring Anna Kendrick, who is styled in a long sleeve baroque velvet ETRO gown from the FW 12 runway collection. Guests who partook of Grey Goose cocktails and supped on modern comfort food whilst grooving to DJ Uncle Mike's moody remixes included Sasha Lazard, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Andrew Heckler, Jamie Colby, PJ Pascual, new mom Gigi Stone and Ann Caruso, who stunned in a black ETRO tuxedo pant suit.

None of us leave empty handed. A rarity in post-recession times, the customary "goodie bag" contained something other than a thick catalogue and bottles of water (note to event organizers everywhere: the heavier the gift bag does not equal the better -- quite the contrary). We all were gifted with beautiful cashmere ETRO scarves, in addition to an exclusive VIP discount card to use at one of the two Manhattan ETRO boutique locations. I think I will use mine towards purchasing a dress for one of these upcoming Galas -- this looks to be a busier season than ever.