It’s been a big week for movie moguls at Michael’s. Harvey Weinstein was here on Monday, and Spike Lee showed up for the second time in a six days. Who needs Hollywood?
Besides the slew of ‘producers’ cooking up their next big deal over their Cobb salads (now available with turkey bacon!), there was the usual mix of media mavens (EW’s Jess Cagle, Investigation Discovery’s Henry Schleiff) and plenty of stylish spinmeisters for fashionable firms like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Estee Lauder.
Speaking of fashion, I was joined today by Steven Stolman who knows a thing or two about catering to stylistas, particularly those with a predilection for all things preppy. The Parson’s School of Design grad apprenticed at Albert Nipon and was then tapped to return 12 years later as the house’s design director. “It was a magical time,” Steven said, until the bubble burst when parent company Leslie Fay, in the midst of its own financial meltdown, shuttered the Seventh Avenue design house. Steven moved on to Lilly Pulitzer (he was curator of their 50th anniversary retrospective) where he presided over the modernization of the iconic Palm Beach label.
“Lilly inspired me to go out on my own,” Steven told me. And he did, opening stores under his own label in bastions of preppydom Palm Beach, Nantucket and Southampton, as well as Beverly Hills and New York. Some of Steven’s best memories of that time are of personally assisting some famous faces, which led to some wonderful encounters with folks like Yo-Yo Ma and Barbara Walters. One day in Palm Beach, Steven spied Dominick Dunne walking down the avenue and stopped him to chat, bemoaning the fact that he’d been reading one of Dunne’s books and would have loved to get it autographed. Dunne affably replied that he’d watch the store while Steven ran home to get the book. When he returned with the tome, Dunne dutifully reported to Steven that he’d sold a skirt and that Steven had missed his mother’s call. Hilarious.
After a brief sabbatical from fashion to serve as development director for a Florida non-profit raising funds for a community health center for the uninsured, Steven then served as design director for Jack Rogers (love those sandals!) before landing his current gig.
Steven is coming up on his first anniversary as president of Scalamandre, the legendary fabric house favored by tastemakers who cater to those who live the luxe life. The house’s iconic signature red zebra print has popped up in a whole host of hip spots from the film The Royal Tannenbaums to the dressing rooms at Barneys. “It just makes people happy,” said Steven. Chances are if you’ve seen some swanky swag on a window uptown, it’s from Scalamandre. The fabrics are in all the best places, from the tastefully traditional upholstery seen in The White House, to the grandeur found at the Metropolitan Opera, to two hipster chic rooms being unveiled next week at this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse.
So, how did a fashion designer wind up as its president? “A lot of people were surprised,” Steven told me. “My role is to bring the company into the future and expand and energize the Scalamandre brand.” So far he’s off to a good start, having signed a licensing agreement with Lenox for Scalamandre fine china, glass and flatware launching this fall, and there’s also an exclusive collection of decorative accessories for Barneys coming soon.
Clearly passionate about his new role, Steven told me that in May of 2009 Scalamandre was purchased out of receivership by Louis Renzo, a private investor. Since then, Louis has put over $10 million into the company to revitalize its reputation as one of the country’s most revered decorator fabric houses. “My job now is to maintain the house’s prestige and make it accessible to new customers.” In an era when everyone thinks they’re a decorator, says Steven, it’s a challenge. ” The future is about creating a hybrid which combines respecting the trade part of the business while attracting new customers. There’s a lot of DIY’ers out there.” But, he cautions, sometimes only the hand of an expert will do. “One of our most popular fabrics is a $600 a yard tiger print in velvet. Do you really want to create something from that and have it not be right? You really have to rely on those people who have trained their whole lives to design the very best.” Kids, don’t try that at home!
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
4. A casually clad Phil Donahue (in jeans!) carrying a Prada briefcase was the first to arrive in the dining room today. He was joined by two gals no one seemed to know. All I can tell you is there was a lot of talk about parenting young kids going on while they waited at the bar for their table.
7. Jason Binn with bigwigs from the Four Seasons and Jet Setters. Jason got a round of applause from the staff (I told you the service here was good!) for the piece in today’s New York Times on the launch of Du Jour. Jason told me that the print edition of the magazine will feature both national (60 percent) and local (40 percent) content with an emphasis on haute spots in the country’s top markets. Well done!
9. Fab fashionista Julie Macklowe, who was rocking shocking pink hair. She seemed like the perfect person to ask about Marc Jacob‘s interesting attire at Monday night’s Met gala. He showed up in a see-through lace dress (worn with white boxer shorts underneath) accessorized with silver buckle pilgrim shoes. I kid you not. If you haven’t seen him, Google it. “It was a little risque,” offered Julie with a laugh, “and that’s saying something coming from me. Maybe he didn’t realize how see-through it was.” Alrighty then.
11. Radical Media’s Bob Friedman
12. Barry Frey, who was serenaded by the staff in celebration of his birthday which was yesterday. Cheers!
15. Current TV CEO Mark Rosenthal
16. United Stations Radio’s Nick Verbitsky
17. Chapter One: Random House EVP Jon Meacham, who had an animated conversation with a bookish looking fellow we didn’t recognize. Take two: Ramona Singer, one of the original (and still standing) cast members of The Real Housewives of New York City (Come on, admit it. You’ve watched at least once) with two stylistas we didn’t know. And, as far as I know, Ramona didn’t bring her own Pinot along.
18. 48 Hour Mystery executive producer Susan Zirinsky
19. The always dapper Euan Rellie
22. Cathy O’Brien of Estee Lauder
23. Louis Vuitton’s Nancy Murray
24. Municipal Art Society honcho Vin Cipolla
25. Marvel Enterprises’ Sarabeth Shrager
26. Steven Stolman and yours truly
82. Producer Beverly Camhe
28. Stephanie Zernik from Chanel
29. CBS News’ Deb Huberman
Please send comments and corrections to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
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