Friday, September 25, 2015

New York Evening Hours with Lieba Nesis: The Philharmonic's 2015 Opening Gala

David Geffen Gets His Hall

All photos Lieba Nesis

The Philharmonic held its annual gala celebrating its 174th season at the newly renamed David Geffen Hall. Geffen who recently donated $100 million towards the $500 million renovation was there for the earlier inaugural ceremony where they unveiled the new sign which replaces "Avery Fisher Hall" with "David Geffen Hall." In order to get this approved, Lincoln Center had to give the Fisher family $15 million of their money back and promise David Geffen to keep his name for perpetuity. Mr. Geffen who is worth an estimated $6.9 billion has given charity to many organizations including a $200 million gift to U.C.L.A School of Medicine in 2002.

Bob Iger chairman and CEO of Disney & Graydon Carter

It is highly paradoxical that the man who launched the careers of rock bands such as Guns N' Roses and Nirvana, chose to donate his money to a classical music hall. To celebrate this momentous event Geffen had some of his nearest and dearest friends attend including: Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, John Paulson, Bob Iger, Graydon Carter, Steve Martin, Henry Kravis, Margo and James Nederlander and so many more. It was also announced at the event that the Philharmonic was receiving the largest individual donation in its history: a $25 million gift from financier Oscar and his wife Didi Schafer.

Billionaire businessman John Paulson & Chair of  Lincoln Center
Katherine Farley

The concert which began at 7:30 pm was telecast on "Live From Lincoln Center" and the excitement of the crowd was palpable. It was evident this was a group of classical music connoisseurs who were also there to mark the appointment of Frank Huang as the New York Philharmonic's new Concertmaster-and the first Asian to hold this post. The concertmaster is the musical liaison between the orchestra and conductor and Huang is the perfect choice as he is a violinist and teacher and has won several international music competitions. Speaking of amazing Asians, Lang Lang was the featured pianist who performed Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor with conductor Alan Gilbert for the first movement. I had the privilege of meeting Lang Lang a year ago where he told me of his love for fashion with his favorite designers being Louis Vuitton and Giorgio Armani.

George Lucas & Mellody Hobson in Valentino

However, seeing him perform for the first time was breathtaking. Lang's slowed down version of Grieg's concerto was as moving as the ecstatic expression that donned his face. His one-handed piano playing coupled with his emotive expressions was as exhilarating as classical music gets. He is a rock star in Mozart's clothing as evidenced by his global superstar status. At the end of his performance he received a standing ovation and loud applause and he took one leaf from the group of flowers he was given to the delight of the audience. He is a showman par excellence and a prodigious talent winning first place at the Shenyang Piano Competition at the age of five. Lang Lang has set up an international music foundation to inspire young musicians and continues to perform for disadvantaged rural communities.

After Lang left the stage there was a bit of an anticlimactic energy; however, the orchestra's rendition of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 was exciting and dynamic. The women cellists and violinists were wearing gowns in hues of red, purple, and gold-a welcome change from the often drab attire of musicians. However, the gold curtain behind these lovely musicians was a bit too garish and bordello-like cheapening the beauty of the majestic hall-an addition which I am hoping was created only for this evening. At the end of the performance, which lasted about an hour and a half, guests headed to the tent in Damrosch Park to enjoy dinner.

Alec Baldwin in Tom Ford and Hilaria Baldwin
wearing Carmen Marc Valvo

Alec Baldwin in a Tom Ford tuxedo accompanied wife Hilaria, who looked great in a Carmen Marc Valvo design. I admire Alec for the attention he pays to his wife's grooming always rattling off the names of the designers who create his wife's hair, bag and dress. Another devoted husband, George Lucas, was svelte and dapper in a black suit and tie. He clung to his wife, businesswoman Mellody Hobson, who shone in a floral Valentino gown. As the evening concluded, I headed to the Polo Lounge to meet some friends and discuss the enchanting evening we had just experienced.

- Lieba Nesis

Better Bets

NEXTPERT’s Katlean DeMonchy and styleXtech NYFW SS 2016

Katlean and the Bachelorette (photo courtesy of NEXTPERT)

New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 saw the return of the NEXTPERT ‘s styleXtech Mobile Lounge. For the second season, members of the press and celebrities boarded New York’s The Ride tour buses for a crash course in some of the latest “must have” technology products, while being transported between fashion show venues. The Mobile Lounge is the brainchild of NEXTPERT’s founder, Katlean DeMonchy, a self described “brand marketing evangelist”.  DeMonchy also hosted a Demo lounge, during Fashion Week, at New York’s Studio 450, where guests could try out a larger number of innovative technology finds, while enjoying cocktails.

 Project Runway's Joshua Mckinley and Anthony Ryan Auld
on the Mobile Lounge with the Brother Dream Machine.
Photo: Rhonda Erb

Katlean gives insight into how she made Nextpert bigger and better for NYFWSS 2016.

This is your second season doing the Mobile Lounge on The Ride during New York Fashion Week. It is certainly a unique concept. How did you come up with it?

Our lifestyle is mobile, fluid and ever changing. I did a fashion segment for E! News Daily on a bus that had 43 TV screens and I thought wow this is so immersive and fun. New Yorkers are on the go trying to take advantage of every second so why not transport editors from one show to another all while showcasing new innovations in the tech space that are having an impact on fashion.

Were there any unique challenges this season?

Challenges are opportunities in disguise.  The bus cannot park everywhere so we were unable to be directly in front of the shows.  It's also challenging to keep on an exact schedule with the traffic in NYC being unpredictable. The experience is immersive.  When Countess Luann de Lesseps came on and shared her new jewelry line, the bloggers got an exclusive first hand look. They tweeted and posted on Instagrams looks from her collection and they had fun!  We know they are thinking of the NEXTPERT styleXtech lounge as its own stand-alone experience rather than as mere transportation between shows.

Katlean & guests at the Tech Demo Lounge

Who was on board and how do you choose the products that are featured?

We had stylists, editors and bloggers on board. We travel globally to look at the new and the next in this space. I am curious by nature and love innovation that pushes things forward. It takes courage to look at things in a new way and it's truly a magical experience when that new idea works and moves us forward. I am honored to be a part of that process and conversation. I selected products where technology is changing and creating new opportunities for a category.

The Tech Demo Lounge showcased an even larger selection of products than last season. Were there any products that really stood out in particular for you?

The Brother Dream Machine

Every product stood out for its own unique reasons. I am a busy working mom who likes to dress well. One of my biggest frustrations is how much time I spend steaming wrinkles and refreshing my clothes and I really don't love the chemicals at the dry cleaners. The LG Styler really speaks to me personally as I would rather spend time working out than refreshing clothes.

How many times have you wanted to find a nail polish or a lipstick to match your clothes now you can through the new app called ShadeScout. Augmented reality is a technology that is coming of age, I have been watching it for about 5 years so it's exciting to see it in applications, like ShadeScout, that are really relevant. I remember when I was in home economics class and the sewing machine we had didn't do much.

LG Styler

Seeing how the newest sewing machines from Brother have LCD screens that allow you to download patterns so you can embroider like a pro is really cool. They also have a printer that allows young designers like Project Runway All Stars Season 2 Winner, Anthony Ryan Auld to create a print in his mind, crowd source and see if people want to buy and then actually deliver the next day. That's a radical paradigm shift for business and it’s exciting to see this happening and to be a part of that conversation.

- Rhonda Erb
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