Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New York Evening Hours with Lieba Nesis

Botanical Garden Orchid Dinner

Table setting
All photos Lieba Nesis
Click on images for full size views

The annual orchid dinner was held at the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel on February 23 at 7PM on a blustery, rainy evening. In the past few years, the venue for this event had been the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with it's fantastic evening views of Central Park and the New York City skyline.

Table setting

But what the Plaza Hotel lacked in view, it more than made up for in its grand, lush surrounding.

Table setting

This dinner is all about preserving orchids, which are considered an endangered species, and gathers the elite of New York to sing the Botanical Garden's praises. The underwriters of the event were Veranda, Hearst and BNY Mellon.

Martha Stewart

This year Martha Stewart surveyed the flowers in her Lanvin outfit as Jean Shafiroff looked on in her floral de la Renta dress. There were other luminaries such as: Eleanora Kennedy, Marian Sulzberger, Susan Gutfreund, Louise Hirschfeld and Lewis Cullman.

Susan Gutfreund, Marian Sulzberger, Larry Condon, & Janet Ross

Lewis Cullman, 97, and Louise Hirschfeld, 79, are an incredible power couple who met on a blind date and have been married for the past six years. Louise, was in charge of her late husband Al Hirschfeld's art collection and is an art and film historian. She attributes her youthful looks to Vitamin E oil and a moisturizer from London, but it is her inner beauty that I found astounding.

Louise Hirschfeld and Lewis Cullman

Her husband, Lewis, is an uber philanthropist who has given more than $500 million to various organizations such as the Museum of Natural History, the New York Public Library and the Botanical Garden. Lewis Cullman was the first person to conduct a leveraged buyout all the way back in 1964 and has spent the latter portion of his life paying it forward, even writing a book on philanthropy.

Jean Shafiroff and Kamie Lightburn

At the conclusion of the cocktail hour where orchids were auctioned off, the guests headed into the palatial Plaza Ballroom. This room was spectacular, with each table displaying a different orchid centerpiece donated by various designers, including Ralph Lauren home and Baccarat.

Marilyn Kirschner in vintage 1960's Geoffrey Beene

This dinner is a precursor to the Orchid show which takes place from February 27-April 17th at the Enid Haupt Conservatory. As I exited the event, I took one last look at the surrounding beauty and then braved the harsh outside elements.





- Lieba Nesis


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