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Melania Trump, Star Jones and the Man Behind Katie Couric’s Cushy Set

1003_mockup.gifCompared to the past few Fellini-esque Wednesday’s at Michael’s, today’s crowd was pretty low key. That said, the usual suspects were at their regular perches and the people watching quotient was satisfied by regular Star Jones (dressed to kill) and Melania Trump who, I must say, looks as if she doesn’t have a care in the world. Perhaps that’s because she doesn’t… unless, of course, she’s worries about hubby Donald Trump‘s war against President Barack Obama. Something tells me she’s able to look beyond that and focus on the positive. But you knew that, didn’t you?

I was joined today by Scalamandre’s smart, savvy and sartorially splendid president Steven Stolman, fresh off the plane from London but looking none the worse for wear. I first met Steven back in the nineties when he was designing power suits (remember them?) for Albert Nipon. Since then, Steven has sold his own eponymous collection out of his charming store in Southampton, consulted for preppy icons Lilly Pulitzer and Jack Rogers, and even dabbled in the not-for-profit world. Today, says Steven, he is happily ensconced in the “job of a lifetime.” It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

In just over a year and half at the helm of the legendary fabric house, Steven has forged exciting new partnerships that, he says, have broadened Scalamandre’s horizons while remaining true to its core customers of designers. A new line of decorative accessories developed exclusively for Barney’s is now available in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, in Barney’s oh so cool Chelsea Passage outpost and online. Next month, Christmas stockings fashioned from Scalamandre’s most iconic prints will be available at the store with coordinating pillows. Just the thing for your country estate, no?

Diane Clehane and Steven Stolman

Diane Clehane and Steven Stolman

Earlier this month, Steven hosted a chic soiree where Scalamandre’s collection of fine china, crystal, flatware and barware for Lennox was introduced. ”We’ve done the full range, everything from playful to bridal,” Steven told me. Of course, Scalamandre’s beloved zebra print (created in 1945 by Flora Scalamandre for the late, lamented Gotham watering hole Gino’s of Capri) is interpreted on plenty of pieces, including  ice buckets and picture frames. It’s so chic I can hardly stand it. “The only word I can think of to describe it all is ‘swanky,’” says Steven.  There’s also an upcoming  luxury artisanal bedding line being manufactured in Chicago that will premiere at High Point in April.

In other words, Scalamandre is not just your wealthy aunt’s fabric house of choice anymore. “It’s a changing landscape, and we are keeping pace with a changing world without throwing the baby out with the bath water,” Steven told me. He’s also carefully watching the shifting consumer patterns in emerging marketing in Asia and the Mideast where consumers are spending more money on their homes. “Luxury brands in these markets are doing extremely well,” he noted. “In China, for example, most of the entertaining done by the wealthy was at clubs and restaurants, and now more people are entertaining more at home.” For those high rollers, ‘dressing’ their homes to impress is as important as carrying the right Chanel bag. In the Mideast, where entertaining at home has always been preferred, the well-heeled set are spending even more to dazzle their guests. If I were a betting woman, I’d say there will be a marked increase in the amount of zebra print pillows in homes around the globe come next year.

Speaking of pillows, Steven shared a fascinating anecdote about working with the set designer of Katie Couric‘s new show, Katie, to create just the right environment for guests. Before the show debuted, Scalamandre sent over 20 different sets of pillows because, said Steven, the show’s producers wanted to “create a different mood for all the different guests.” To wit:  “soft patterns” are on set when Katie is doing “compassionate” interviews, while “strong patterns” are used to prop up the show’s more “dynamic guests.” Steven was positively besides himself when he realized it was Scalamandre’s faux bois velvet pillows in camel and grey that surrounded Barbra Streisand when she stopped by to chat. “I was positively verklempt,” said Steven. He sums up this successful foray into product placement on Katie this way: “I’m glad we’ve got their backs.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. PR maestro Howard Rubenstein and scion Steve Rubenstein, holding court with some business types

2.  Anthony Shriver and a blonde gal no one seemed to know

3. Barbara Exline

4. Tina Brown

5. An absolutely glowing Melania Trump

6. Half of ‘The Imber Gang’: Dr Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina and Andy Bergman

7. Steven Stolman and yours truly

8. New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia with an equally well-dressed fellow we didn’t get to meet

9. Haspel Clothing Company’s Laurie Aronson

10. Fashionista Julie Macklowe, who will be walking the red carpet at The Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars tomorrow night wearing something fabulous, I’m sure.  See you there!

11. Lynn Goldberg

12. Attorney Michael Kassan, Richard Beckmann and another distinguished gent

14.  Piers Morgan Tonight executive producer Jonathan Wald and Today show contributor Star Jones. Since Jonathan had a stint as Today‘s  EP during its heyday, could these two pals of mine be trading ideas on how to help the morning show regain its top spot in the ratings wars?  I’ll venture a guess and say yes.

15. Dateline‘s David Corvo

16. Cindi Berger

81. PR maven Catherine Saxton

17. Peter Price

18. Caroline Hirsch of Caroline’s Comedy Club, entertainment scribe Roger Friedman and journo and playwright Jill Brooke. Jill stopped by my table to tell me she’s just inked a deal to write The Need to Say No: How to be Bullish vs. Bulldozed to be published by Hatherleigh, a Random House imprint. Congrats!

20. The always lovely Joan Jakobson

21. Quest‘s Chris Meigher and James S. Cohen

23.  Wednesday Martin

24. Attorney Ed DeYoung

25. Kevin Engl

27. Millenium Partners’ Michael Del Giudice

29. The Wall Street Journal‘s David Sanford and Lewis Stein, who confessed they are spending far too much time watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I understand completely, since reruns of the train wreck three-part reunion show seems to run on continuous loop. I’m holding out for the Beverly Hills gang who returns next month.

Faces in the crowd: Kira Semler and Vi Huse, enjoying their monthly champagne lunch at the bar. Cheers!

We’ll be off next week trick or treating. Hope your Halloween is frighteningly fun. See you in two weeks.

Please send comments and corrections to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.

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