My trip to Park City, Utah, was a first for me and quite unforgettable! Whenever you receive an invite to Kristina and Mike McGrath’s home, it is an opportunity you cannot pass up! Kristina invited 10 girlfriends for a winter getaway that included Heather Farley, Lynn McMahan, Jan Flanagan, Nina Mariano, Toni Canada and her California friends Tami Kahn and Joni D’Amato, and her beautiful twin sister, Korinna Isselhardt. Their home in Deer Valley was breathtaking and offered guests the ability to ski right out the back door and into the great outdoors. Kristina made fantastic lunch and dinner plans at all of the local hot spots such as Riverhorse Café, Cafe Terego, Wahso, Grappa, St. Regis Hotel and the Glitretind Restaurant at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. She even went so far to ensure that we were entertained by hiring the Music Taxi to take us to lots of our spots. The cab was decorated inside with Christmas lights and music played constantly. The driver even had props for us and a microphone (don’t ask) and we all sang and laughed to and from our various venues. It was a riot! A few of us bravely skied out their back door up and down in front of the ski lifts which are also conveniently located outside their door although “skiing” might be a strong word to use in my case. On one of the nights, Kristina hosted a cocktail party that included Brenda Sexton, Julee White, Carrie Birkel, Greg Nye, Sean Eshagy, Denis Healy, Richie Rinella and Mike’s son, Mike McGrath Jr. There were other parties over the weekend including “The Fourth Annual Chicagoans at Sundance Party” (which attracted around 150 partygoers) and was hosted by Denis Healy, Brenda and Julee at Stein’s on Saturday along with hosts Carrie Birkel, Jonathan Bross, Les Coney, Kim Kline, Kristina McGrath, Lyn McKeaney, Lynn McMahan, Robin Robinson and Scott Schroeder. Other guests in attendance included Betsy Steinberg, Sylvia Perez, Todd Lizak, Andrea Metcalf, Jackson Miranda, Billy Dec, Mike McNamara, Bryan Glazer (Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner), Dr. Warwick Carter (Columbia College), Dr. Eric Winston, Doreen Bartoni, Bruce Sheridan, Charlie Kam and Lance Chody (owner of Garrett’s Popcorn) among others. After this party, guests (including Mayor Daley’s nephew, RJ Vanecko) went to Harry O’s and saw Joan Jett perform. Columbia College also hosted a three-day series of events. Thursday was the first day of the 20th Sundance Film Festival and the streets had filled dramatically overnight with camera crews. The theme this year was “RE….Remind, Rebel and Renew” and the screen before every film began with “This is the recharged fight against the establishment of the expected. This is the rebirth of the battle for brave new ideas.” The restaurants even change their way of operating for this occasion by only offering prix fixe dinners. One waitress put it this way: “It costs you $75 just for a seat.” Sundance attracts around 20,000 year round residents and jumps to 75,000 during the film fest. On average, 10,000 movies are submitted to the Festival judges who narrow it down to around 1000 films. They use around 10 to 15 venues around town to preview the movies and Park City benefits to the tune of $20 million dollars. No wonder Robert Redford is the local hero! Celebs in attendance this year included Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones (appearing in “The Company Men”), Chris Cooper, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Robert Duvall and his wife Luciana, Amanda Peete, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Bill Gates, Kristen Stewart, Andie MacDowell, Treat Williams, America Ferrera, Kate Capshaw and her daughter Sasha Spielberg among many others. It was an experience I’ll never forget and the best part of it was spending time with such delightful and accomplished women. Thanks so much for these wonderful memories Kristina and for being such a wonderful and gracious hostess! (By the way, I came back early from Park City on Friday so these celeb pics are courtesy of Peter Kramer and Chris Pizzello). :) Click here for more fun photos!
The tribute for Eunice Johnson in New York was scheduled before her death which made the luncheon tribute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday, January 11th, even more poignant. The Temple of Dendur was filled with 200 A-list celebs and high-powered Chicagoans including MK Pritzker, Eunice’s granddaughter Alexa Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg, model Veronica Webb, Gayle King, Soledad O’Brien, Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Susan Fales- Hill, Neal Zucker, Pat Cleveland (who was one of the first Ebony Fashion Fair models), Ashford and Simpson and Latonya Richardson (wife of Samuel Jackson) among many others. The high profile host committee consisted of Gayle Perkins Atkins, Carol Sutton Lewis, David Meitus, designer B. Michael, Linda Johnson Rice, Audrey Smaltz, Andre Leon Talley, Lizzie Tisch and Isabel and Ruben Toledo. The invitation was non-transferable, required business attire and read: “The Host Committee invite you to a luncheon celebrating a philanthropist, fashion icon and a founder of Ebony Magazine.” Former President Bill Clinton gave the sentimental opening address and told the guests that he and Mr. Johnson were from the same state of Arkansas. He went on to say how honored he was to escort Mrs. Johnson to her late husband’s funeral in 2005. White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers read a letter from President Obama and First Lady Michelle sending their condolences to the family. Since Eunice Johnson was the producer and director of the internationally famous Ebony Fashion Fair, several of the garments from the show were displayed at the tribute. The gorgeous fashions included designs by Bob Mackie, Patrick Kelly and Valentino among others. Linda Johnson Rice said in her remarks that her mother developed close personal relationships with many of the designers because rather than borrow pieces for her show, she would buy them outright. Under Eunice’s direction, the fair traveled to nearly 180 cities annually in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, raising more than $55 million for various charities. New York Governor David Paterson bestowed a proclamation in her honor and it read in part: “The Empire State is proud to recognize the lives of extraordinary individuals…Eunice was a groundbreaking giant in the world of fashion and design as well as a visionary pioneer, philanthropist and inspiration to countless Americans of all ages, races and backgrounds.” Her legacy is in very good hands with her daughter Linda Johnson Rice at the helm. (Pics courtesy of Aisha Murff..click here to view more!)
Author Sherrill Bodine’s book launch party at the Palmer House was a celebration not only of her latest novel, “A Black Tie Affair,” but for the incredible body of work she has produced! Writing under her pseudonym, Leslie Lynn, Sherrill has written an astounding number of romance novels –14 (six Regency novels for Fawcett and eight books for Harlequin) – many with thinly disguised characters that you’ll instantly recognize from around town. She was swathed on this night in a body hugging vintage lavender cocktail dress that only she could wear, no doubt purchased from her friend Laurie Davis’ shop LuLu’s at the Belle-Kay. She tirelessly signed EVERYONE’S books from the beginning to well past the designated stopping time. She is a woman clearly enjoying this new stage of her amazing life! Congrats Sherrill! And, by the way, we are developing our own Algonquin Round Table right here in Chicago…the list of scribes who have had book parties recently include Lydia Fisher Alouf, Terri Lee Ryan, Catherine O’Connell and Judge Michele Lowrance. I am very proud and happy for all of you and wish you great success! Keep up the good work…you’re making our town look VERY literate! (Pics courtesy of Steve Starr..view more here!)
January is shaping up to be quite the “Girls Only” vacation time! I would like to wish Susanna Negovan, Natasha Isaacs, Laurie Davis and Dusty Stemer a great trip to Mexico at the end of the month! Have a blast ladies!
Don’t forget these fun parties coming up…I don’t want any of you to miss them! On Thursday, February 4th, there will be a Sneak Preview of Pottery Barn’s new store in Lincoln Park from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 1000 W. North Avenue benefitting the Parkways Foundation. Hosts include Stacey Reineking Sather, Susanna Negovan, Jessica LaGrange and moi. Hope to see you there. To RSVP, please visit PotteryBarnChicago@mrichardspr.com.
The Joffrey Ballet’s “Cindy’s Having a Ball” will ensure fun from coast to coast! Beginning in LA, the Joffrey will be dancing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from January 28th through the 31st. On Friday, January 29th, there will be a luncheon at the Four Seasons filled with fun and surprises. This same party will be in Chicago on Friday, February 19th, with the performance beginning on Wednesday, February 17th and running through the 28th. I hope you will be able to attend this enchanting production by Sir Frederick Ashton and one or both of these fun lunches benefitting the Joffrey Ballet. For tickets and info please call 312-386-8921 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The Fifth Annual World Festival comes to Soldier Field this year on Monday, March 1st, to celebrate Art Smith’s 50th birthday. Over 70 chefs from around the country are coming together to make this birthday one he’ll never forget! The After-Party will be at the James Hotel and will include a Southern style lounge as well as other surprises! Tickets start at $250. Make your reservations now and be a part of this joyous celebration for a wonderful cause!!! Hope to see you there! For tickets and more info, please contact Jennifer@commonthreads.org.
PAWS is hosting a winter celebration for people and their pets called “Animal Magnetism” on Friday, February 5th, at Galleria Marchetti (825 W. Erie) starting at 7 p.m. There will be a buffet dinner, dancing and open bar. Tickets in advance are $125 per person and $25 per pet and the event day prices are $150 and $25. To purchase tickets and for more info call 773-890-5118 or visit online at www.pawschicago.org.
On a sad note, I want to send my deepest sympathy to long-time friend Bonni Gross. Bonni lost her dear husband Chuck suddenly this week. My heart goes out to their family and friends…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more compatible and happy pair. Their smiles would always light up a room…we will miss him so. My love and prayers to you Bonni…
This excerpt from a poem by Charles Rafferty entitled “Against Hesitation”-- seems quite apropos:
“If you stare at it long enough / the mountain becomes unclimbable / Tally it up. How much time have you spent / waiting for the soup to cool? / Icicles hang from January gutters / only as long as they can. Fingers pause above piano keys for the chord / that will not form. Slam them down / I say. Make music of what you can.”
Here’s wishing you beautiful music…
(P.S. AND speaking of Sundance, look what video won last year’s Canine Film Festival! Gidget, Mary Ann Rouse and her two sons appear in this adorable clip.)