“I invited some of the women I most admire for a little catch-up. Nandini D’Souza Wolfe was there to document all the action.” -Linda Fargo
Some good-natured grousing, a teaspoon of philosophy and beauty advice you can take to the bank: Iris Apfel, Patricia Field, Ranjana Khan, Carole Radziwill and Bergdorf Goodman’s own Betty Halbreich and Chloe King joined Linda Fargo at BG Restaurant for pink champagne and conversation. Under Fargo’s direction, the scene was set with a chic-surreal tea party table, complete with Carlo Moretti’s hand-blown glassware, John Derian’s unblinking glass eye plates, Kelly Wearstler’s cheeky gold arm and lip sculptures and tiered cake stands overflowing with François Payard pastries almost too charming to eat. Small white stuffed bunnies peeked out from behind Ercuis petit-four stands, to the delight of the guests.
As smartphones were turned off and tucked away, talk inevitably turned to the digital age. “It’s intrusive!” BG’s famed personal shopper Betty Halbreich chimed in. There was a chorus of consensus.
ON MEMORABLE FASHION MOMENTS
Style original and self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet” Iris Apfel held court anytime she spoke, especially while relaying a story about the time she tracked down jazz legend Duke Ellington for a college paper interview in 1940. When Apfel showed up backstage one night wearing gray flannel trousers, a cashmere sweater and an ex-beau’s Cornell varsity jacket, the Duke’s righthand man, Ray Nance, asked, “Lordy, who’s your tailor?”
Stylist and downtown New York fixture Patricia Field chuckled about the year she received a cowgirl outfit. “I was five years old. I had boots, a fringed skirt, a hat, a fake gun. I wouldn’t take it off. I had discovered I had a style.”
Halbreich recalled a Christian Dior dress with three bows that her father bought her in Chicago just before her wedding in 1947, while BG’s social media guru and fashion maverick Chloe King remembered Givenchy’s Spring 2016 runway show. “They showed in New York on [the anniversary of] 9/11, the sun was setting and the clothes were spectacular. It was incredibly inspiring,” she said.
ON STYLISH MEN
Jewelry and accessory designer Ranjana Khan’s favorite man is of course her husband Naeem, whose luxurious, detailed gowns are favored the world over. “He dresses so differently, so creatively,” she said. “And he has twice the amount of shoes I have!” When she recently edited and reorganized their closets, hers was culled, while his remained intact. As Mr. Khan was a longtime apprentice to Halston in the ’70s and has been a fixture in the design world ever since, his closet is an archive of great moments in fashion history.
Field and Apfel nominated Fred Astaire as best-dressed man. “It wasn’t what he wore, it was how he wore it,” Apfel said.
“And those moves…” author and journalist Carole Radziwill added.
When Fargo noted most men look their best in a tuxedo, everyone agreed. Almost.
“No, I like a little more creativity,” Field said. “Mozart and Ben Franklin wore high heels!”
ON BEAUTY SECRETS
When Radziwill was 16, she read a story in Cosmopolitan about Cheryl Tiegs, her then-idol, who said her one regret during her modeling career was that she never removed her makeup postphoto shoot. “Cheryl was convinced all her skin problems were because of that,” Radziwill said. “That had a big impact on me. From that day on, there’s not a day I miss washing my makeup off. You have to let your skin breathe.”
The other glamorous ladies shared similarly frills-free beauty routines. Apfel is a longtime devotee of lipstick and washing her face with drugstore find Cetaphil, while Khan does face yoga every day. “There are 57 muscles in your face. There’s no vanity in yoga, so it’s not meant for your face to look younger, but it’s the byproduct,” she said.
ON HANDLING THE HATERS
As the evening wound down and iPhones resurfaced, the conversation drifted back to technology and criticism in this age of anonymous comments. Fargo paraphrased her friend Carlos Souza’s Instagram: “I’m too busy with the people I love to worry about the people who don’t love me.”
Apfel, meanwhile, threw down some parting wisdom for the ages. “I did everything I would like to do that wasn’t illegal or fattening. I do what I like to do and hope I please other people. But if I don’t, it’s their problem. Not mine.”
Nandini D’Souza Wolfe has written and edited two books, Harper’s Bazaar: Fabulous at Every Age and New York Times best seller Tory Burch: In Color. Her work has appeared in New York, Elle, The Wall Street Journal, W magazine and WWD.