Have you noticed that it’s nearly impossible to attend just a charity benefit lately? It’s become an entire affair rather than a one night stand. First there’s the kickoff cocktail party for the event, followed by yet another event possibly to celebrate the honoree, then (if you’re lucky) there’s the actual main event — the benefit dinner. Yesterday afternoon I attended the “middle event,” a book signing for designer Vicky Tiel and her name droppy, sex-filled, fascinating memoir “It’s All About the Dress: What I Learned in Forty Years About Men, Women, Sex, and Fashion” (believe me it’s a lot as she counts as friends La Liz, Richard Burton, Goldie Hawn, Warren Beatty and others)! Ms. Tiel will be the honoree at the Medical Missions For Children (MMFC) Miniskirts in Paris benefit on Friday evening at 583 Park Avenue which I also plan to attend.
|Ada de Maurier on the left with Host & Vice Chair of MMFC’s
Lauren Lawrence on the right in a Carolina Herrera dress
Chairperson for the MMFC Event Committee Margie Rotchford greeted me at the Upper East Side home of our host New York Daily News dream reporter Lauren Lawrence,while clad in a beautiful soft purple classic Vicky Tiel frock. Rotchford, a resident of Saratoga Springs and owner of thoroughbreds, met Tiel recently through a friend and asked her right away if she would support her first time gala for MMFC; an organization which sponsors doctors travels to countries such as Ecuador and Peru in order to operate and correct disfiguring defects such as cleft palates.
|Chairperson Margie Rotchford|
The book signing event was called for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., a little odd I thought since most take place after working hours. When I arrived on the fashionably late side of 1:30, the guest of honor had not shown up yet and there was panic in Lawrence’s eyes. I spoke with some of the familiar faces including Joy Marks (in a fabulous Maggie Norris suit and Patricia Underwood hat), Adele Nino and Katlean DeMonchy.
I also met a few interesting out-of-towners including Joy Venturini Bianchi, a San Franciscan with a great attitude and a love of statement making costume jewelry. A vision in her orange wool hat, huge tortoise glasses, chic navy pantsuit and orange bangles, Iris Apfel could learn from this bad ass broad! Check out her Instagram at Helpers House of Couture to get an idea of how she rolls (Spoiler Alert: she’s on a motorcycle!)
|Joy Venturini Bianchi|
By 2 p.m. we were all getting a little woozy day drinking champagne (or at least I was) when we were informed that Ms. Tiel, who had “gotten the time wrong,” would be here shortly. Vicky eventually breezed in, her red mane freshly blown out, in a multicolored, shiny short caftan with hot pink tights and black and hot pink booties. Ms. Rotchford introduced me to the inventor of the miniskirt, adding that I had a tale (literally from the crypt) to tell.
|Vicky informal signing copies of her book|
The saga involves my late stepmother who owned several of Vicky’s ruched creations which spanned the ages. I pulled out photos of the saffron colored dress she had acquired in the ’80s as well as a white lace number purchased circa 2008. I also hesitantly shared that her longtime housekeeper and I had made the decision to lay her to rest in the designer’s red “Pretty Woman” gown; one that she had adored wearing. Ms. Rotchford not only told me Vicky would love this, but it is in fact mentioned in her book as a common occurrence. Sure enough, Ms. Tiel referred me to that mention (it’s actually on the first page)! “Bergdorf’s says that I’m the number one designer for this purpose. My dresses make the body look good in the box,” she boasted.
Back amongst the living in the living room, a huge chocolate Passover cake courtesy of Joy Marks by way of William Greenberg desserts was proffered, along with more champagne, while Ms. Tiel got down to the business at hand: signing books. This was not your ordinary book signing (or maybe it was these days) as it was being filmed for a documentary on Vicky. Each customer got to sit halfsies in a chair with the designer, have a nice long chat, and get not only her signature but a little Sharpie version of the designer’s famous dress silhouette “customized” for her body type.
|Laurel Marcus & Vicky|
When it was finally my turn (I kept losing my place in line as I went to take photos) there was nothing left to say as I had already spilled my somewhat macabre story. When I got to pride of place, Vicky suddenly remembered that her multi strand two-tone charm necklace of Egyptian artifacts (Queen Nefertiti’s profile included) was lurking hidden beneath the front of her dress. (Was she hiding it on the subway or something)?
I handed her my book and she took up the Sharpie. I spelled my name for her:
“You’re very sleek so I think this would be good on you” she said as she drew a strapless, modified sweetheart neckline with a ruched bustline and a long slinky yet slightly flared at the bottom gown.
“Sold!” I thought “Just don’t bury me in it yet.”
– Laurel Marcus