It was fairly predictable to see Hillary Clinton’s longtime friend Oscar de la Renta encouraging her to take a second shot at the Oval Office. It was interesting to see it happen at a fundraiser for the generally nonpartisan Carnegie Hall (“practice, practice, practice” is good advice for all), and in a style as elegant and choreographed as a state dinner (with wines from France and Italy).
“Don’t disappoint me, I want you as the next president, OK?” the designer said last night in front of about 400 guests in the Plaza Hotel ballroom, including Colombian billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo and hedge-fund manager Glenn Fuhrman.
Whoops and hollers followed, the most boisterous reaction during the program presenting de la Renta, a board member at Carnegie Hall since 1987, with the venue’s Medal of Excellence.
Perhaps guests were enthusing for the honoree as much as the former Secretary of State and senator. Who’d want to deny the 81-year-old the chance to dress his first president?
If Clinton or another woman takes office -- she has said she’ll decide about running by the end of the year -- it’s quite certain she’d be wearing Oscar some of the time.
“This man has been working for more than 20 years to try to turn me into a fashion icon, and despite his best efforts year in and year out, he’s never given up,” she said.
Hillary got the fashionably late part right last night, arriving with her husband after guests had nibbled their way through the first course of salmon tartare with lemon wasabi creme fraiche.
Bill and Alec
Quickly, she made a beeline for her seat, to the immediate right of the honoree (Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, was on de la Renta’s left). Also seated at that table were U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, Diane von Furstenberg and art dealer William Acquavella.
Bill Clinton took a little longer to get settled, going around the table to greet Lady Lynn de Rothschild and his son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky.
Almost as soon as the former president sat down he got up again. Actor Alec Baldwin, who according to the most recent filing gave $5,000 to the super-PAC Ready for Hillary, came over to say hello with his wife Hilaria, just as Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, arrived at the microphone to thank the gala chairmen.
Sandy Weill acknowledged the Clintons as “two people that I really, really love,” and had a special message to deliver.
“I think we’d all like to congratulate the two of you for what Marc and Chelsea have done,” said the former chairman of Citigroup Inc. “Let’s put the important things where they belong.”
Afterward Mezvinsky went over to his wife, obviously pregnant, sitting at the adjacent table, with Barry Diller, Ralph Lauren and Anna Wintour. Mezvinsky kissed her on the forehead a few times and patted her hair.
Most guests let the Clintons enjoy the evening, giving them time and space to eat the roast chicken with truffle whipped potatoes and chat with their daughter and son-in-law. Oscar and Annette de la Renta also relished the company of family members, as did the Santo Domingo family, seated at a table together.
Those seated closest to the Clintons included Don Marron of Lightyear Capital, Bob Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, Picasso biographer John Richardson, and the first lady of the Dominican Republic, Candida Medina.
Farther away: Valentino Carlotti, head of the securities division and institutional client group at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Daniel Benedict, who runs Bleecker Street Arts Club.
When a Voice of God announced that buses were waiting to take guests to Carnegie Hall for a concert by Julio Iglesias and Vittorio Grigolo, opera patron Mercedes Bass was the first on her feet. Eventually others followed, leaving almost-full coffee cups, half-empty trays of lemon and pistachio macarons and hand-calligraphed place cards behind.
Weill and his wife, Joan, got into the back seat of an Audi in front of the Plaza for the ride over, with Renee Fleming in the front seat. Weill’s practice doing right as a fundraiser for Carnegie Hall paid dividends: the event raised $3 million, with tickets priced from $1,500 to $5,000.