“Why am I the most boringly dressed here?” Charles Rockefeller said as a stream of Nehru collars, saris and kimonos passed him at the Asia Society’s “Celebration of Asia Week” party last night.
The red-haired grandson of Asia Society founder John D. Rockefeller was wearing a navy suit with a spring-green tie: a look befitting his latest occupation as University of Pennsylvania graduate student.
Also sticking to business attire in the Manhattan church-turned-party-space known as 583 Park were Jack Wadsworth, advisory director of Morgan Stanley, and Henry Kissinger, a former U.S. secretary of state who has a book coming out in May titled “On China.” Among the women, Lulu Wang wore a simple black dress, accented with a red pin by Oscar de la Renta.
As for those who dressed to thrill: benefit co-chairman Stephanie Foster wore red; her husband, John H. Foster, the chairman and chief executive of Foster Management Co., wore a black jacket with Nehru collar; Ranjana Khan, wife of fashion designer Naeem Khan, exposed some of her midriff in a turquoise sari-like gown. And jewelry designer Rosena Sammi wore a 22-carat gold necklace inspired by the motifs of Mughal palaces.
The theme of the evening found expression in many ways other than dress. The chef of the Manhattan restaurant Tulsi, Hemant Mathur, devised an Indian menu that included chicken with mint sauce and green beans with shredded coconut. His wife, pastry chef Surbhi Sanhi, offered chai panna cotta for dessert.
On the stage, Stephanie Foster read aloud a list of donors to the event. When she got to Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group LP, she noted, “I’m reading alphabetically.”
Crisis in Japan
“I’ve had so many special experiences performing across Asia,” said Renee Fleming from the stage, to which she was called as an honorary chairman of the event, a title she shared with Naeem Khan. “I hope to see you some place abroad soon.”
With the crisis in Japan, the evening had some somber tones. One guest said she was eager to attend the spinning class that Soul Cycle was organizing to benefit relief efforts.
“It is hard right now,” said the president of the Asia Society, Vishakha N. Desai, in an interview. “At the same time we have to give positive energy. Tonight we are celebrating the culture and traditions of Asia. These are the things that give us hope.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)