Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Rose Hartman Book Signing Party

A Rose by Any other Name...


Rose Hartman and Jean Shafiroff
(All photos Lieba Nesis)

Jean Shafiroff hosted a cocktail party for Rose Hartman's new book "Incomparable Couples" at Swifty's, the legendary Upper East Side haunt, on a rainy inclement evening. However, a massive crowd squeezed into the miniscule restaurant with numerous photographers and publicists trying to eke out a space to conduct business. Publicists Norah Lawlor and Couri Hay both socialized with their clientele, as designers Victor de Souza and Maggie Norris looked on, while famed interior decorators Shane Inman and Geoffrey Bradfield held court in the corner.

Randi Schatz, Lauren Lawrence and Michael Gross

Authors Michael Gross, Florence Anthony, Lauren Lawrence and Joan Jedell shared a couple of laughs while every socialite north of 58th Street stopped by to pay homage to Jean and Rose. For the past three decades, Rose Hartman has photographed the rich and the famous in the most legendary settings ranging from Studio 54 to the Museum's Costume Institute with her pictures appearing in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair and The New York Times. Moreover, her images have been exhibited in some of the most prestigious museums and galleries in the United States including the Museum of the City of N.Y., and the Whitney. Rose is a legend in the fashion industry, yet it is her blunt no nonsense manner that defines her, and renders her even more divalike then the luminaries she photographs. Her "tell it like it is" approach makes her a personality worthy of being photographed and has greatly contributed to her own notoriety.

Missy Pool, Jamie Colby & Liz McDermott

This evening was no different, as Rose interrogated me as to which magazine I wrote for and then screamed to move out of the way. Rose was dressed in a sequined shirt and heavy makeup-she does not just take pictures of the glitterati she is one herself. At first, I was insulted and demeaned by her lack of patience, but then realized this was part of her schtick and should be embraced and savored. Rose signed books in the corner as hordes of socialites stopped by to purchase the $50 book and to get a minute with the queen herself. The publication contains pictures of extraordinarily glamorous couples with David Bowie and Iman appearing on the cover, one of the few celebrity pairs in the book who have not subsequently divorced. Some of my favorite pictures are the ones of Gianni and Donatella Versace, Kate Moss and Marc Jacobs, and Andre Leon Talley and Anna Wintour; because they capture a moment in time that is hard to replicate.

Ike Ude, Florence Anthony, & Shane Inman

Rose said her favorite picture in the book was "the one of Jean Shafiroff with her dog Bella because it captures her in her beautiful home and for the first time she is relaxed." This had me stunned as it was not a celebrity who had enthralled Hartman, but rather a friend and fellow socialite. Shortly thereafter, Jean walked over and she and Rose playfully pushed and hit each other while posing for photographers. When I asked renowned author Michael Gross his thoughts on Rose he said, "Rose is everywhere. She is a terrific collector of people - one of the best. I just wish I could have been there for the picture of Bianca Jagger on the horse-that would have been cool." Jamie Colby, a Fox news anchor, reiterated this sentiment by stating, "Rose has an eye for beauty, her subjects give her something they don't give anyone else because of who she is, and I really admire her energy and enthusiasm for life."

 Rose Hartman with her book Incomparable Couples

At the conclusion of the evening after the hors d'oeuvres and drinks had been devoured, the indomitable Rose was still selling her books at a corner table, and posing for pictures with friends. She then sought to explain her moody behavior at which point I grabbed her for a hug and asked her where I could purchase the book. These types of legendary characters are hard to find and they must be paid tribute to at every occasion possible.





- Lieba Nesis

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