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Posts Tagged ‘Ellen Delsner’

David Zaslav, David Zinczenko and the Next Big Name in Fashion

1003_mockup.gifOn any given Wednesday, the Michael’s dining room is chock full of moguls (David Zaslav, David Zinczenko) and mavens largely known to faithful readers of this column, and today was no exception. Yet, every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to meet people who, despite their impressive accomplishments, have managed to keep a relatively low profile.

Today was one of those days thanks to David Thalberg, founder of The Thalberg Group, who introduced me to a fascinating woman. If you’ve never heard of Lisa Sun, founder and CEO of Project Gravitas, trust me, you will. The Taiwanese-born, Ivy League-educated entrepreneur learned the ropes working at McKinsey & Co for 11 years, advising clients in the U.S., Asia, Europe and Latin America on strategic issues for the firm’s global luxury fashion and beauty practice. And, it’s clear in talking to her, that the inspired ideas behind her new business have been percolating for a long, long time.

Armed with degrees in biology and political science from Yale and a lifelong passion for fashion, Lisa rose through the ranks to become McKinsey’s resident expert on the luxury and fashion markets. As such, Lisa gave plenty of keynote addresses at symposiums, including the American Express Luxury Summit. While living all over the world and developing her business acumen as her career progressed, she learned quickly that dressing the part was also a key strategy in building a successful career. Having been a size 22, size 8 and “now a proud size 12,” Lisa was determined to create a line of dresses that gave style-savvy women the fashion they craved and the self-assurance they needed. And that’s how Project Gravitas was born. “We are that dress,” explained Lisa. “The one you wear on the interview where you get that job, the one that inspires you to go to that party, the one that you slip on for that very important day. It’s the one you wear that makes you feel like, ‘Bring it on!’”

Lisa Sun and Diane Clehane

The collection of 10 ‘niche dresses’, available exclusively on Project Gravitas’ website, retail between $195- $295 with free shipping and returns (“By selling online, we can keep the retail price accessible”) and are manufactured exclusively in New York with fabrics from the finest Italian mills. Here’s the real secret ingredient that is sure to attract the attention of Spanx wearers everywhere: each dress is designed with built-in shapewear from high performance moisture-wicking fabric that is breathable and machine washable. Lisa told me, “I wanted to make the ‘treat me’ dress for the young executive who wants to trade up from Zara, the ‘super mom’ who wants to look good for date night. I think of these dresses as beautifully designed safety blankets.”

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Tom Brokaw, Vernon Jordan and the Shy Divorcee

1003_mockup.gifIt was SRO at Michael’s today. The dining room was so jam packed every sqaure inch was occupied by a mogul (Mel Karmazin!), media heavyweight (Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, Jeff Zucker), or social swan (divorcee of the moment, Mercedes Bass who moved to the Garden Room with pal Lynn Nesbitt when the decibel level and fabulousness of it all got to be too much).  Just a thought: if you’re looking for a quiet, out of the way lunch spot, you might want to consider going somewhere else on Wednesday.

I was joined today by Forbes‘ new editor, Randall Lane. In his new position, Randall is presiding over familiar territory to him: the lives of the ridiculously rich and ambitious. In a previous life, he was the editor of Trader Monthly which chronicled the age of excess of the Wall Streeter of days gone by.  That experience later provided plenty of fodder for his book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade When Wall Street Went Insane. In the interim, he’s been an editor at large for Newsweek and written for The Daily Beast. Having worked with him years ago when he was the editor in chief on the startup Justice, which covered the hot trials and legal issues of the day, I was thrilled when I heard he’d gotten the top job at Forbes back in September.

Randall first worked at Forbes fresh out of college in the nineties and spent six years “chasing rich people” and working on the franchise’s venerated power lists which required (and still do) hundreds of hours of research and manpower. “In some ways, it feels like I never left,” he tells me.

Diane Clehane and Randall Lane
Randall Lane and yours truly

Since taking the helm, Randall has been on a mission to make the book more visually exciting with interesting photography (the arresting cover image of Bill Gates in the “World’s 70 Most Powerful People” issue is a winner), fresh design elements courtesy of the Brooklyn-based shop Athletics, a livelier front of book section and more in-depth profiles on people the Forbes reader wants to know about.  Exhibit A: The cover story in the November 7 issue on Dropbox’s Drew Houston, the 28 year-old mogul who turned down Steve Jobs and is now worth $600 million which drew one million hits on Forbes.com.

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Lunch at Michael’s: Kate White & Her Lethal Blondes

lunch_at_michaels_logo.jpgAfter the last few relatively uneventful Wednesdays, we were thrilled to see the dining buzzing with excitement when we arrived this afternoon. Our favorite Cosmo gal Kate White was celebrating the publication of her latest book, Lethally Blonde, with a ladies lunch at Table One comprised of an intriguing mix of flaxen-haired gals. The festivities spilled out into the main dining room causing quite the hubbub until Steve Millington corralled the crowd and the gals settled down to tuck into their salads. White’s power peroxide set: Kim Cattrall (who was overheard telling a reporter she “hasn’t heard anything new” about a possible Sex And The City movie), Hilary (Mrs. Bryant) Gumbel, Cecile Richards (president of Planned Parenthood and daughter of the late Texas governor, Ann), Linda Fairstein, Sarah Greenberg of Lionsgate Films and Joan Carl, president of D. Porthault (which would explain the lovely little packages at each place setting).

The View‘s Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who looked glowing in her 15th week of pregnancy (“It’s the self-tanner”) told lunchtime chronicler Diane Clehane that she was there because she was “in awe” of Ms. White, adding, “Cosmo and The View have a lot in common. They both cover all the things women really care about. Both have also been subject to others trying to duplicate their successful formulas but they’re both true originals!” Fresh off yet another dust-up on this morning’s show with Rosie O’Donnell, Hasselbeck professed to know nothing about plans to replace her departing co-host. “I never know anything.” But, she admitted, “I’m sure there’s some master plan.” When asked to characterize her contentious relationship with O’Donnell, Hasselbeck gamely replied: “We’re friends. We’re in different places philosophically. When you feel deeply about issues, things get heated. Some times I wish I didn’t care as much as I do.”

Also in attendance: Lesley Stahl (who slipped in after things had settled down) and the one true head-scratcher of the group: Carolyn Kepcher, who, you might recall, served as Donald Trump‘s hatchet woman on The Apprentice until he banished her from the boardroom. We’re guessing Ms. Kepcher enjoyed the news that the once popular reality show was left off NBC’s new fall schedule.

Here’s the rundown on the rest of today’s crowd:

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