If you were in search of New York’s Old Guard social elite Wednesday night, you needed to look no further than Laverdin Gallery at 57th & Park. Here, about 100 of the famous and the near-famous (those who are at least “legends in their own minds”), congregated to celebrate both the woman responsible for enshrining them in black and white portraiture and to bask in the glow of having achieved such stature. Those warranting a photo (or two) hanging on those bobbing and weaving clotheslines were as tickled pink as the sparkling wine.
FAMOUS, a Decade of The Celebrated and The Legendary (2009-2019) Portraits by Annie Watt (through January 6) opening night had everything including an unexpected “Snow Squall.” Although the weather outside was indeed frightful it did nothing to extinguish the holiday cheer as guests posed with their often noticeably younger visaged portraits, toasted with bubbly, and hobnobbed with their peers. There were GIF’s to pose for while some took the mic in hand recording their kudos for the honoree.
Annie Watt grinned her Cheshire Cat grin – giving full “watt-age” to her acquired title as “The Posing Expert” (more on that later) as the camera flash was directed her way for a change. She smiled through so many permutations of attendees wanting a digital piece of her alongside themselves; they did all but sit in her lap as if she was a department store Santa.
“All New York society knows Annie Watt” (as her wall blurb reads), and of course, she knows all of them. Her images appear in Avenue Magazine, Elle Décor, Gotham, Hamptons.com, House Beautiful, New York Social Diary, Palm Beach Society, Quest Magazine and Veranda. She has photographed charity galas and fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Society, Baccarat, French Heritage Society, NYC Opera, Christie’s, and many other organizations as well as events for private individuals.
Watt is clearly one to give other “celebrity” photographers their due as evidenced by photos featuring Bill Cunningham, Rose Hartman and (my last article’s subject) Harry Benson and his wife Gigi. Somehow, as I glanced at a photo of Drew Barrymore and Cunningham, this empowered and enabled a gentleman to approach me and commit heresy. “I prefer The Times now,” he said. “There were too many little pictures before,” he clarified, referring to Cunningham’s arduously edited and immensely popular Style section.
I couldn’t resist informing him that the possibility of being photographed for Bill’s “cluttered column” gave many stylish New Yorkers a reason to get dressed and go out – a phenomenon that is often lacking these days, even though tonight’s event belied that concept.
The crowded room included Sharon Bush, Lauren Day Roberts, Barbara Regna, CeCe Black, Eleonora Kennedy, Susan Gutfreund, Dr. Penny Grant, Lee Fryd, Barbara Tober, Geoffrey Bradfield, Cole Rumbough, Rosemary Ponzo, Chiu-Ti Jansen, Rita Cosby, Jane Pontarelli, Lauren Lawrence, Rose Hartman, Randy Schatz, Roy Keane, CeCe Kieselstein-Cord and the list goes on. Someone asked me if Martha Stewart was there (she is a frequent subject of Watt’s lens) but if she was I didn’t see her.
Interestingly, the wall text schooled me on Annie Watt’s past. For those who remember the late ‘70s (BTW living through them and remembering them are NOT the same thing!), Annie ran the famed Barbizon Modeling Agency even writing the 25-page brochure “Be a Model or Look Like One.”
Regarding her moniker as posing queen, she said: “I can look at someone and see how they should stand, tilt and pose to their best advantage.” In the ‘90s she spent eight years working at The Graphic Systems Group in post-production and editing. By the early 2000’s she worked in the IT field as a recruiter. Eventually, she used her recruiting skills to find talent for her own photography agency.
According to printed literature distributed at the event, Watt’s full-service digital agency includes a stable of “skilled photographers and videographers who share Annie’s vision for excellence, unparalleled quality, and unequal service.” They photograph not only in NYC and The Hamptons, but also in Palm Beach, Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
All proceeds from the sale of her prints are donated to the Alumni Association of the School of Visual Arts, in gratitude for the four-year scholarship she received there. Other little known facts about Annie: She holds a Masters Degree in Art History from Alfred University, a teaching degree from Hunter College and has taught at SVA.
For more information about the exhibition or about setting up a photo shoot, contact Annie@AnnieWatt.com or (917)968-1210.