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Lunch: Special Post-Inauguration Edition

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— DIANE CLEHANE

The mood was festive at Michael’s today, with plenty of Obama buttons on display and lots of talk about the president’s stirring inaugural address. Jack Kliger told me, “I thought the whole thing was inspiring. His speech was terrific.” Jack had a good laugh about Barack Obama‘s heartfelt thanks to George W. Bush for his “years of service,” only to then turn around and basically rip the departing administration to shreds — in the nicest possible way. A speech for the ages, indeed.

While everyone agreed the president was near perfection in every possible way, the verdict was somewhat mixed on the First Lady’s fashion sense. A few media mavens told me they were less than thrilled with Michelle Obama‘s Isabel Toledo dress and coat (“A little dowdy,” sniped one stylista), but gave her higher marks for her Jason Wu ivory gown. I admit, I didn’t love the “lemongrass” lace daytime look at first, but by day’s end it had grown on me. I will say that Sasha and Malia looked darling in their custom J.Crew Crewcuts coats. When my good pal Fern Mallis, looking sleek and chic in her Tracy Reese Obama shirt, stopped at the bar for a chat, I asked her what she thought about Michelle’s fashion choices for the big day. “I’d give her a 10,” said Fern. “I could not think of a better ambassador for the fashion industry right now. She looked great.”

Today I was lunching with Lisa Silhanek and Justin Brown, CEO of First Global Xpress. Lisa, who knows everyone in the fashion biz, is working with Justin as his relationship manager, helping to broaden the business within the industry. Justin, whose clients include HBO, ICM and Conde Nast, has built an impressive business (that will be profiled in next month’s Business Week and the March issue of Inc.) by catering to companies that care about reducing their carbon footprint with smart shipping that lops off miles using direct flights. And, perhaps just as important, Justin says: “We deal with divas very well.” He’s shipped everything from a helicopter (New York to Eastern Europe) to Marilyn Monroe’s velvet headboard bought at auction by an adoring fan, so chances are he can handle whatever daunting task Seventh Avenue can serve up.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The Imber Gang: Dr. Gerry Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman and Jerry Della Femina. I asked Jerry about the awful news about the demise of Full Frontal Fashion. His wife, the tireless Judy Licht, made the show a must-see for fashionistas and civilians alike with its wall-to-wall coverage of Fashion Week. (Truth be told, I’ve skipped a show or two knowing that I could watch the whole shebang from my living room without having to battle the crowds). “It’s true,” reports Jerry. “But Judy has a lot of things going and will be covering Fashion Week for The Huffington Post.” You heard it here first, folks. Smart move, Arianna.

2. Peggy Siegal dining with a mystery gal. Clever Peggy ordered her lunch in advance so as not to waste a minute.

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and uber-agent Ed Victor

4. Jack Kliger, Tom Donahue and a gent named Nick, so we’re told.


5. Showtime’s main man Matt Blank

6. We would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for this one: Barbara Walters and Christiane Amanpour

7. Cass Canfield and his wife, so we’re told

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with Debbie Bancroft

9. Chanel’s Barbara Cirkva

11. Public relations maven Maury Rogoff and Mark Jeffries

12. Spin City: CBS’ Gil Schwartz and Huffington Post’s Danny Shea

14. Jared Kushner and Portfolio‘s Joanne Lipman

15. Fern Mallis with Gary Zarr

16. Victor Neufeld (Loved that fur trapper hat!) and CNBC’s Jonathan Wald

17. Ad man extraordinaire Peter Rogers

18. Suzanne Brackner and Dan Wassong

19. Amanda Haynes-Dale

20. Producing pals Joan Gelman and Susan Gallin

21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher

22. Alan Gould and CBS’s David Poltrack

23. Heather Reynolds with actor Andrew McCarthy of the late, lamented Lipstick Jungle. (And we were just getting into the show, too…)

24. Nick E. Rubinstein

25. Lee Eastman and Hunter Murtaugh

27. Vartan Gregorian

28. Wheed Ali

Faces in the crowd: Happy Birthday to Monica Corton, vice president of creative affairs and licensing for Next Decade Entertainment, who we met today at the bar. Turns out Monica is BFF with Michael’s own Steve Millington since they were kids. “He used to have long blond hair and plays a killer bass guitar,” she told me. Why are we not surprised? See you next week!

Please send comments and corrections to DianeClehane AT mediabistro Dot com and lunch at mediabistro DOT com.

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