A Woman On a ‘Mission’

In what has become somewhat of a holiday tradition (well, for the last three years anyway), the tireless philanthropist and social fixture Jean Shafiroff hosted a lovely and festive holiday lunch yesterday at the iconic New York watering hole, Michael’s Restaurant on west 55th street (how does she manage to do it all???) Taking over the far right side of the restaurant in the back (with its windows overlooking a garden bedecked with a Christmas tree), she told me this is her largest luncheon thus far (it had been 24 people and this time, there were 40). It’s also the first time she hired a professional photographer to record it all (Patrick McMullan’s Owen Hoffman).

Michael’s festive atmosphere

There were four beautifully set round tables and their close proximity made it feel quite intimate. The eclectic mix of people included fashion designers Zang Toi and Victor de Souza; fellow philanthropists CeCe Black and Barbara Tober; publicist R. Couri Hay; acclaimed dermatologist Judith Hellman, MD, PLLC; Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, founder, president, and creative director of the jewelry firm bearing his name; Ben Widdicome the editor; George Gurley, a contributing writer for The New York Observer and Vanity Fair; Chiu- Ti Jansen, publisher, writer, and supporter of the arts; Allison Minton, a columnist for New York Social Diary; and pretty much all of us at The Look On Line (publisher Ernest Schmatolla, contributing writers Laurel Marcus and Lieba Nesis, and moi). FYI, Ms. Minton, whose ‘beat’ is accessories (she admitted that she was “obsessed” by them at an early age), was a table mate, and she was instantly drawn to Laurel’s amazing David Webb bijoux (her enviable earrings, necklace, bracelets, rings belonged to her late stepmother), and my statement making (if not quite as precious) brooch: the humongous vintage Larry Vrba piece comprised of clusters of simulated pearls, pink rhinestone crystals, and marbleized green leaf stones was made to resemble a bunch of grapes.

Elsie McCabe Thompson

Naturally, since the setting was Michael’s, the food and wine was nothing short of superb. On the menu: Tuscan kale Caesar salad, pan seared salmon with French lentils and fennel slaw, followed by a desert comprised of Michael’s holiday perfect cookies. In between courses, Jean gave a little toast, wishing everyone a wonderful holiday and taking the time to speak about her passion, the New York City Mission Society (www.nycmissionsociety.org), which has the distinction of being the oldest charity in New York City and changes the lives of many of the thousands of under served children it serves. She also introduced its Executive Director, Elsie McCabe Thompson, who stood up to say a few words. The luncheon was a private event, not funded by the Mission, and a donation in honor of her guests will be made to the New York City Mission Society.

Her involvement dates back to 2012 when she was asked to co-chair their bicentennial Gala which was held on 12/12/12 at the Pierre Hotel. In 2013, she was one of 3 honorees at their Annual Gala and received the Dina Merrill Award for Public Service.  Last year she joined their board and served as the chairwoman of the April 1, 2014 Annual Gala and she hosts events for them.

Jean Shafiroff and George Gurley

Jean sits on numerous boards and believes strongly that we all have an obligation to help those in need. She personifies the notion: “For whom much is given, much is required” and she always does so looking perfectly put together and flawlessly groomed. Known for her voluminous ball gowns as much as her philanthropy, she is a lover and follower of fashion, but has her own particular style. Yesterday, she wore the iconic Courreges vinyl jacket in hot pink which she paired with a black turtleneck, chartreuse skirt and matching pumps. It had Palm Beach written all over it, which was rather fitting, if not coincidental, given the fact that she and her husband Martin, are headed to the iconic Florida resort destination for a well-deserved rest, right after Christmas.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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