Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beauty and excitement in an unreal horsey place

Centerpiece by Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs, VIP Caters to The Hampton Classic Horse Show.

I am not pretending the Grand Prix tent at the Hampton Classic is a normal place to find yourself. Nor, I am a pretending it is average even if you are a regular Grand Prix attendee. It is above the fray, according to some it is also above ridiculous and outside the bounds of decent human interaction. That is a debate for another sort of hostess on any other day.

In the real world, people do not pay $50,000 to sit in a tent, eat , and watch a horse event. Even in the horse world, one wears polished, horsey, good clothes to watch a Grand Prix, if they watch at all. But at Bridgehampton, it is going to cost dearly, you will wear amazing, sometimes preposterous, couture and maybe a hat, and you will notice some perfectly amazing table settings and decor set forth by the days' hostesses at each table. The Hamptons Classic Grand Prix (always Sunday at 2 at the end of the summer) is the end of summer location, and the tables are the height of summer hostess competition. Not familiar with this event? Here is a piece on The Hamptons and the show (vaguely) which I think might aim to make a lot of people ill with disdain:

...Hilton has just handed a signed copy of daughter Paris’s CD to the towering, super-svelte business mogul’s wife Somers Farkas. Hilton, normally the belle of the ball (hence the Vivien Leigh-like look), is the guest of the gracious Farkas, who annually hosts a $50,000 table (front and centre) along with such bold-name notables as oil heiress Patty Raines and Palm Beach doyenne Terry Allen Kramer.

(It is well known, but unsaid, that prospective hostesses try to outdo one another with the competitive zeal of an Olympian in their table decor, which ranges from horsey topiary centrepieces to Herm├Ęs china and chairs.)

The Classic, deems Farkas, may well be the most important social occasion of the year, but it is “not just some frou-frou event”. Casual chic, she dictates, is the preferred mode of dress (the Birkin bag stuffed with Fritz the Yorkshire terrier notwithstanding) and Farkas is duly clad in a bespoke Maggie Norris navy trouser suit and white blouse with tasteful emerald and diamond horseshoe cufflinks and studs.

“Everybody wants to come to the Hamptons,” declares Raines, decked out in a brown suede leather jacket from Ralph Lauren’s fall collection with tight white jeans that have dragon tattoo prints stitched along the side and a Fendi fur shoulder bag.

But, for most, it is an opportunity to sport your summer finest for the very last time. In modern-day Hamptonian tradition, the prevailing style lacks the southern subtlety of, say, the Kentucky Derby. It is unfortunate that some Hamptonites have yet to master the integration of hats and clothing, with notable exceptions being the East Coast’s most potent film publicist, Peggy Siegal, in Gilles Mendel and an age-old Eric Javits straw hat; and Christie Brinkley, who at 53 can still muster starstruck menopausal men to unfurl their pocket Kodaks, tightly wrapped in a black dress teamed with flat Roman sandals and a men’s Panama hat.

“There’s a certain kind of calmness here in the Hamptons,” adds Raines. Perhaps. But the Classic’s white tent is shoulder-to-shoulder, like Ferraris crammed together on the Montauk Highway while fleeing the city on a Friday afternoon.

As Rudy Giuliani and wife Judi Nathan gladhand their way through the fashion-loving frenzy, standing at the vortex of it all is Siegal, who tablehops from prize-winning equestrian Kelly Klein (Calvin’s ex) at one end to the formidable billionairess and Wall Street heiress Terry Allen Kramer at the other. “I had a home here that I sold for $32 million!” growls the raspy-voiced Kramer, while barking to her butler, “Diego, put more silverware down!” ...
- Jeffrey Podolsky for the Times Online, United Kingdom

Are you through puking, yet? Look, the table settings are worth the price of regular admission. And the Grand Prix is exciting, thrilling stuff - I don't care who you are. As for the shallow hostess bit - from Hamptons Classic to NASCAR Grand Prix's, you can find them everywhere. Don't let that nonsense keep you away from a great close your summer experience next year.


Visual Vamp said...

I used to work with Chris Robbins, and Ken and Paula Wolf. I did many a job with them, and in the Hamptons, including the BH Classic. They are just terrific!
I just love the horse centerpiece made from the heads of a flower called The Bells of Ireland. It's a thorny little bastard, so I am even more appreciative of whoever actually constructed it ha ha!

Emily Cann said...

Loving this flowered horse. What a great idea and fun for a Kentucky Derby party too. I just had to share with my followers too!