Vicky Tiel’s “The Absolute Woman” Makes its Debut on Park Avenue

Jean Shafiroff & Vicky Tiel
All photos Laurel Marcus – click images for full-size views

It’s not every day that you’re compared to Elizabeth Taylor!” said a glowing Chopard diamond bejeweled/Vicky Tiel gowned Jean Shafiroff fresh off a week of R & R in Mexico. The occasion: a book signing Chez Shafiroff of iconic fashion designer Tiel’s latest oevre “The Absolute Woman: It’s All About Feminine Power.” Tiel was Elizabeth Taylor’s designer (husband #1 was La Liz’s makeup man) and is now exclusively designing for NYC’s most noted (and tireless) philanthropist and style setter.

Vicky busy signing her book

Attending the cocktail soiree were fashion and society notables including FIT’s Valerie Steele, Kim Dryer of Sequin Jewelry, representatives from Carolina Herrera, Bergdorf’s, and the perfume licensing company (sold on HSN) as well as many of Jean Shafiroff’s bonne amies. The line to meet, greet and have your book signed and decorated with a personalized drawing in a facsimile of one of Tiel’s gowns (or just drawn as is for the men) was never ending as primarily black clad attendees jockeyed for position, sometimes a little impatiently.

Guests in the parlor

Open bottles of several of Tiel’s perfumes (Coco Chanel actually advised both Tiel and Taylor to develop fragrances) were available to freshen up with as you wait “spritzes”—someone even bought the Tiel designed scarf which was part of the display. “Vicky’s equally at ease whether she’s talking to a high society socialite or a regular Joe,” commented a guest who knows her well. While many waited for their audience with Tiel, others congregated in the dining room near the cheese and fruit platters or in the black and white entrance foyer greeting the ever incoming guests (there were about 150 attendees), sipping light colored beverages and eating sushi off of butlered trays.

The line for the autographed book is out the door

Jean spoke of her first encounter with Vicky’s fashions – “I had a little black and white polka dot pouf of a dress that I bought at Giorgio on Rodeo Drive – I’m so sorry I gave it away,” she remarked.  Interestingly, although Vicky claims to be the “longest running female fashion designer from Paris – 54 years!” since she was so emblematic of the ‘80s it seems that many of her designs from back in the day have met the same fate and can be found on resale sites.  No one perhaps realized the timeless allure of her creations – Bergdorf’s sold thousands of the “Pretty Woman” dress for many years running – in fact I just saw a black velvet version on the sale rack this week. (Too big for me or I might have given it a whirl).

Dr. Valerie Steele waits her turn

Another thing that you will find in her book – Tiel is a woman who can’t be owned.  In her chapter “No Sex for Shoes” she details how she never was beholden to a man and could buy her own chaussures, merci bien. Even when beginning her design business “no one ever lent me a penny,” she brags. Other late breaking news? “When Brigitte Bardot came to my shop (at 21, Rue Bonaparte) she had no underwear on.” Aside from revelations like that, the book is full of tips on how to be happy (the gospel according to Tiel says that’s the most important thing in life) followed by how to help others. Tiel, a Buddhist, is a great believer in Karma “what’s meant to happen will happen,” there’s always a good thing that comes from a bad thing however make sure you “Don’t Dance with Crazies.” For more about the book read my review.

Sketch and signing Vicky did for Laurel’s copy of book

For her part, Shafiroff will still play the designer field. The very talented designer Victor dE Souza, who was also in attendance and collaborates extensively with Jean doesn’t need to worry that he’s being sidelined — the lady likes her fashion! (I dubbed this design oriented ménage à trois “Vicky Victor” – with apologies to the Julie Andrews movie). Of course, anyone at all familiar with the New York social world knows that Jean can be found virtually every night on the philanthropic gala scene garbed in yet another awe-inspiring gown. And yes, she re-wears – “It’s chic to repeat,” is one of her “well worn” adages.

Jean in her Vicky Tiel gown and Chopard diamond earnings.

So far the transatlantic partnership is going well judging by tonight’s velvet bodice with purple satin skirt number. A matching stole and finished tulle underlining gave the hostess a thrill along with others as she was happy to display the rare (and very French) design embellishment to everyone in the room by lifting up the long skirt. Ooh la la! “Vicky took my measurements. The gown arrived, I try it on and it fits,” she marveled.

“I also can’t wait to wear the red ‘Pretty Woman’ gown but that needs a little more fitting,” she remarked. Shafiroff often accompanies her day and evening attire with costume jewelry however tonight Chopard got a plug for lending a spectacular pair of diamond drop earrings and bling ring, price available on request. “There are several armed guards here so don’t even think of stealing them,” she quipped.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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