Over the Rainbow. Design’s Pot of Gold Givers.


NYC, a rainy Tuesday in March, 7pm. Ask anyone what makes a memorable evening in a legendary New York City space, the answer will be the big people, big places, and above all, the little things encapsulating…humanity.  For me, foodie, dancing, or dramatic evenings have nothing on nights when passion turned into action for a place, the arts and the future are celebrated. This turns me on. Music mogul, David Geffen perfectly and simply captured why he supports the arts, with his recent $100 million donation buying naming rights for Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall:

“I’m a kid from Brooklyn,” he said. “I love New York.”

New Years Party in New York
The Scene: Another legendary “kid from NY” is the most iconic, and symbolic Rainbow Room, spinning “Top of the Rock,” aka 30 Rockefeller Center since 1934. This Art Deco skyscraper boasts an “Oh” at top, magnifying and rippling out in 360 degrees, the boldest dreams of its dancers, feasters and revelers. Recently restored and bestowed landmark status, it’s a BIG room.

NY Times Rainbow Room
And what: Another legend roaring awake again these days is the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), coming around to its Centennial Year in 2016. Voted one of the best in the nation by the industry, the college’s “guiding principle is that the interior environment is a fundamental element of human welfare and the college is committed to actively improving the quality of life for all segments of humanity.”

Choosing The Rainbow Room for this year’s Annual Benefit Dinner was a genius landmark idea. (And PS, the college has a well-celebrated exhibition on now, Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Landmark Interiors, until April 24, on Gotham’s greatest landmarked spaces.)

Now that I’ve given you the big space, here are the big people who filled it: The titans and moguls of the interior design industry are my favorite people, as there’s something about negotiating someone’s dreams while juggling their life, space, taste and budget, hmm…sounds something tantamount to marriage. Takes a socially-adept, psychologically-savvy character with a sense of humanity and humor to choose and master this path.

The ID community in NYC not only works internationally, parties much, vigorously supports philanthropy and honors its own, but clearly, enthusiastically supports its own, as testified by the completely sold-out NYSID Annual Benefit Dinner event, supporting scholarships for the designers of tomorrow. (Those are those green-shoot students hunkered down below in search of knowledge pouring over AutoCAD plans whilst the gala goers smartly spin above.)

“It’s one of the design community’s most anticipated annual events,” rightly coos Patricia M. Sovern, NYSID board chairman. So I coo’ed and convinced my talented artist and photographer pal, Alvaro Montagna, to join me and the hundreds come to honor Bunny Williams, John Rosselli, Edmund Hollander, and the New York Restoration Project. Headliners were benefit co-chairs, Alexa Hampton and David Scott, interior designers and NYSID trustees; Betsey Ruprecht, antiques dealer and NYSID trustee; and Newell Turner, editorial director of Hearst Design Group.

Ready to dive in with us and discover the Stars, Legends and Evening Bests?

BEST ELEVATOR UP WITH LEGENDS STORY Ellen-Scarborough-Chuck-Scarborough-Debbie-Bancroft
How uncanny to share the elevator up the NBC tower with Ellen Ward Scarborough, antiques dealer, Mrs. to Mr.Chuck Scarborough, the lead anchorman of NBC-TV and Debbie Bancroft! I joined both beauties headed north to the 65th floor. Both in stellar black dresses, dishing about shoes, like any girlfriends, in particular a gift of designer barely-worns from Beth DeWoody. I always heard Beth was super generous in terms of the arts, now you have it, she does shoes, too.

Alvaro was so struck by the women’s golden glow, that he actually tried to elbow Chuck out of this photo, before he realized who the venerable gentle giant and 31-time Emmy award winner was! “Oh, Chuck…sure, um Sir…yes, you get right in there!”

Life is an Adventure with Alexa! Seen here with Pat Sovern and Newell Turner, Alexa Hampton, in a gorg ombre’d blue gown, was as blue as her dress earlier in the evening. She mistakenly left her speech in her evening purse, in an Uber owned by a “Jose” sixty-five floors down.

Of course, even if I didn’t consider her a friend and an inspiration, I’d still volunteer to retrieve it for her, given she was presenting that night! Picture me in a whirr of running-in-heels, in the rain, on both sides of the building, knocking on car windows of the long line-up of Uber drivers, all looking at me askance, on both sides of the building “Are you Jose?” “Are you Jose?”
Happy ending? Alexa and purse reunited. No ad-libbing necessary. (Although no one quite ad-libs like Alexa, oui?)
I seriously doubt there was an actual memo to dress in Art Deco black and silvers to honor the building’s design, probably just a telepathic design vibe among this crowd. Memo or not, honorees and partners, John Rosselli and Bunny Williams win the prize for best dressed and best life. Their curation was introduced to me by my client, designer, Scott Sanders, he of an impeccable eye. I’d seen the magazine spreads of glorious homes and spectacular antiques, it was a thrill to meet them both. (I always want to call her Bunny Wailer, wait, am I the only one?) (Plug: My silk blouse is from Christine Manthey) (and…one of the little things…John Rosselli’s bright red socks with this ensemble, they say a lot)
In the olden days (1970’s) mugging used to be synonymous with NYC. In true Jade and Alvaro style, we caught a new kind of mugging by Deborah Marton and friend, ___________ (so gorgeous, please identify yourself and claim your prize!) Following NYC legend, founder Bette Midler, Deborah, on the right above, is Executive Director of New York Restoration Project (NYRP), the evening’s green honoree. NYRP is dedicated to transforming open space in under-resourced communities to create a greener, more sustainable New York City. Me loves NYRP long-time.


Also mugging, designers Jayne Michaels, Brad Ford and Joan Michaels brought the dark and delicious intrigue to the mix. Brad in the middle is known for a super sleek, earthy aesthetic as well as his Field and Supply, a modern take on a country craft fair, and designing as 2Michaels, the twins bring a light, savvy eye, and rich history.

If you hadn’t noticed, bringing back the sexy in party pics is what’s next. Beyond stiff portraits, posing and selfies, we vote for old school images, like my favorite below from Miles Ladin. You must admit the bobbed, mugging Michaels above, remind one of Linda Evangelista, below, right?

miles ladin
And see the gorgeous, smoking blond in the leopard spots in the back? At this benefit dinner, that role was clearly played by NYSID trustee, Betsey Ruprecht, below.


Betsey…basically brings the life to the party. The gold-studded antiques dealer and designer has the power and presence to draw smiles. Here she’s corralled designer, Sandra Nunnerley, who wore the chic-est silk quarter sleeve top with sleek, cropped black slacks, very 1950’s updated. See more evidence re: The Betsey, below:

Way better than an Ellen-like group selfie here, yes, this is the “gathering, get-ready moment” before the “staged” version…and I love it so much more! L to R, Charlotte Barnes, Debbie Nielsen, Pat Sovern, Betsey and that smiling lady in black, Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence.


Above, one husband of Betsey, Bill Ruprecht, former CEO of Sotheby’s. He’s going up, and if you catch him alone in a burled wood elevator, he’s up for some silliness. Alvaro stepped in to join Bill, announced his photo coverage of the party and added, “You know, a little gig between my Sports Illustrated swimwear shoots.” Bill promptly replied, “Yes, it’s just not the season for it, eh?” Ba-dum-bump.


NYSID Annual Dinner
The First Lady in this town and beyond is Margaret Russell, editor in chief of Architectural Digest. Joined by Jesse Carrier, one half of the design team, Carrier and Company. (Just a little in favor of the media, fashion, photography, and film types, with Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, Jane Rosenthal, Town and Country’s Jay Fielden, Jason Wu and Annie Leibovitz as clients.)

Drivers of good taste, all: Michael Bruno of 1stdibs.com, Lisa and Cary Kravet (see below) and interior designer, and now author, Suzanne Rheinstein.

I was happy to see Ellen Kravet, trustee at NYSID, a true Kravet, a legend in New York for its family-run, to-the-trade fabric and home furnishings business.  How much do I love her Art-Deco get-up? She’s the head woman of her family-owned fabric leader, bring on the patterns! (We wrote about their DVF launch, here.)

Design legend Jamie Drake shares a secret with Clinton Smith about using the inspiration of 30 Rock’s floors in his next project. Mr. Smith reacts.

NYSID Annual Dinner
Martha Stewart is a regular Star at NYSID galas, always escorted by a sharp gent. I’m kind of loving her earthy cape over the wrap dress, with soft gold purse and hair.

NYSID Annual Dinner
Somehow I missed seeing Bari Mattes, most recently, president of the Tory Burch Foundation, alongside such a friendly face in the middle, Archie Gottesman, along with Jill Dienst‘s husband, Dan Dienst, CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.


One of the main reasons NYSID reached top status for its graduate and undergraduate programs is president, David Sprouls, holding the torch for the growth, strength and professionalism of the industry, here with his wife, Kate Wood, president of the preservation group Landmark West and co-curator of NYSID’s landmarks exhibition.  Joining them is Jill Dienst, doyenne of all things Dane and a super fun, energized woman to talk art, design and Feng Shui with.

The light for all the world will shine on true glamour. Combined with giving, everything about this image makes me smile. Viola, we give you Julianne Andersen and Dennis Miller, NYSID Trustee.


Another cheery woman who always brings a smile is Jane Chen, vice president for finance and administration at NYSID, here with fellow trustee, Anne-Korman and et moi, Jade Dressler. Only at a design event would we be having this much fun over each other and sharing Jane’s best-kept sartorial secret, her Hong Kong tailor. With all the personality these ladies have, I still didn’t get the name of the tailor.

Emilia Saint Amand and_Ann Pyne
I mean. Wouldn’t you entrust the world to these gals? Presenting Emilia Saint Amand, (love a woman in a silk dress who looks like she could easily commandeer a sailboat in a hurricane.) And Ann Pyne, president of McMillen, Inc, the oldest and most esteemed interior design firm in New York.

NYSID Annual Dinner
De rigeur for boys, ain’t the Thom Browne cute suit anymore, it’s all about the malas! In my favorite Billy Farrell pic from the event, David Kleinberg, Sam Allen, Christopher Spitzmiller compare malas.


NYSID Annual Dinner
James Druckman is one always-dapper gentleman. At the helm of the industry as president of the New York Design Center and a trustee of NYSID, he is here with designer Ellie Cullman. Dan Quintero on the right, is the hero of Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, as executive director. The passion the ID community brings to supporting that charity is remarkable!  We covered Kips Bay this past fall, here.

So many supporting industry folks in the room, these two pool boys- from the Southhampton-based J. Tortorella company looked like they needed a floater, so we swam over. (I know, so corny, but summer is coming and we all need a laugh, a relief from another snowy, rainy, is-it-Spring-YET-evening?)


While we didn’t meet in an elevator this evening, I have to thank both Susanna Salk, elegant design commentator on multiple platforms and Carolyn Englefield, editor at Hearst, for taking me higher. Golden girls of taste.

David Scott-Christina Juarez and Tori Mellott
The one note of green in the room, a nice nod to that aspect of outdoor design and sustainability on trustee and designer, David Scott. Top of the always-elegant list, publicist and home decor platform expert, Cristina Juarez and Traditional Home magazine design editor, Star, Tori Mellott.

Tori’s self admitted “just tossed together” ensemble wins my Best Shoes of the Evening Prize, for her silver Roger Vivier‘s paired with wine-hued stockings. Which by the way is a definite spring trend. I am seeing it once a day on the gamine gams of NYC. I also saw it on a creme colored ronoculous flower edged in wine yesterday in a flower shop…I diverge…but you design folks get it.


It’s so easy to swoon over Amy Lau, a redhead designer with a taste for red or gold dresses + dramatic entrances and spaces, see our coverage on her Ciao, Roma! room at Holiday House, here. Congrats to Sophie Donelson, the new editor in chief at House Beautiful. Between her midnight blue dress, mane of power brown hair, looking for all the world like Jackie O‘s sister…she ruled the room!


This girl in red. Watch her. She’s like Waldo. When I worked with NYSID, Catarine Wright was everywhere, volunteering, leading, giving events…showing up at events. Now a designer with James Rixner, this girl knows how to celebrate, give her time and basically put her passion into action. This is a huge ingredient for Star Interior Designer Status and Success. It was so good to see her (can you tell there’s mutual love here?)


Here just may be Catarine’s successor…world, please meet Jourdun Kristopher. Sartorially-smart, wise for his years, he’s a new student at NYSID, already volunteering with to help with the dinner.

It was fun to chat with him after the party moved inside for the dinner. Our evening’s work a wrap, Alvaro and I asked the bartender for two Manhattans, seemed like a good way to toast a super-fun evening with some of NYC’s top design legends partying for the next wave of design stars…before we headed out into the rain and rainbow neon of midtown NYC.

Alvaro Montagna and I wish to thank NYSID, David Sprouls, Ellen Fisher, Samantha Hoover, Elizabeth Kogen, Samantha Fingleton, Michael McGraw, John Mineri and Billy Farrell for their various gifts, such as the invitation, time, support, and for an exquisite evening!

Written by Jade Dressler, most images by Alvaro Montagna with supporting images from Billy Farrell. Please let us know of any names or titles we goofed on. Thank You!


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