The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center along with Harry Winston hosted the sixth annual Spring Ball at the Temple of Dendur in the Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The evening included cocktails, dinner, and dancing.
Over four hundred guests supported of the Society’s patient care, research, and education programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Shelley Carr, Julia Koch and Karen LeFrak co-chaired the event. All of the evening’s proceeds went to benefit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s kidney cancer department. Since its inception in 2008, the event has generated over eight million dollars to support the Society’s leading patient care, education, and research programs.
I was invited to attend the cocktail hour portion of the evening. My eye was immediately drawn to the most gorgeous event decoration I have ever seen: the Museum’s always impressive central staircase was adorned with candles which spelled out the “HW” Harry Winston diamond company logo. The candles imbued the hall with a fairy tale aura which was pervasive to the extent that I expected to see Tinker Bell flying down the stairs. The eye popping candle light display was masterfully set in contrast to the subdued long white cloth adorned single white flower topped tables surrounded by simple Lucite chairs. I thoroughly enjoyed the deviled quail eggs with caviar and shrimp, sushi, and lobster role with napa cabbage appetizers.
Men in black filled the room. (I am specifically referring to tuxedos; Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were not present!) Women in black were also pervasive. Long black gowns—and some occasional all red counterparts—comprised the evening’s signature attire. At this point, I must admit that I spent a month wondering what I would wear to the ball. Since I am not the gown type, I elected to go as myself. So there I was standing in the always awe inspiring and now candle lit Museum grand hall wearing a sparkling silver jacket and silver patterned pants I had found at a Dortmund, Germany flea market. My silver toned Nike shoes were no glass slippers. Suffice it to say that I was conscious that although I was decked out in de rigueur sparkle textile bling, I did not look like the other women.
Suddenly a man who also stood out because he was wearing a pink and white polka dot bow tie, a pink pocket handkerchief, and a flying bird shaped diamond lapel pin approached me and said “I must tell you that you look ‘faaaaaabulous.’” He continued: “I love your look. You have all this unique silver stuff going on. Your individuality stands out. You look so chic.”
I responded with the truth: “What? Me? Chic? I am here as a reporter for Socially Superlative and actually I am very worried that I am not chic enough.”
“Socially Superlative? What a chic name.”
“Your opinion is very meaningful to me. You really made me feel more comfortable here.”
“Life is about being one of a kind. In fact Harry Winston said, oh what was the quote, yes, Harry Winston said ‘people are going to stare, so make it worth their while.’”
It turns out that I was speaking with William Rhodes, the senior sales executive of Harry Winston. This man spends his working hours bedecking the chicest women in New York in diamonds. And oh yes, his bird pin: Sandra Bullock wore this $350,000 piece in her hair at the Academy Awards. I will never ever forget that Mr. Rhodes, chic style maven par excellence, saw fit to compliment the sartorial choice of not at all the gown and high heel type (and that is putting it mildly) moi.
A gong announced that the cocktail hour was over. Like the clock striking twelve for Cinderella, this bell tolled for me. I had to leave. I was not invited to the ball. I watched all the women and men in black (and some red) file into the Sackler Wing. I was left with my very own private awesome view of the beautiful candle-lit “HW.”
No, I did not lose one of my Nike shoes. No, Mr. Rhodes did not search for me with shoe (and assorted diamonds—for good measure) in hand. As the ball started, I excited the Museum and walked down the outside stairs on the arm of my beloved Prince Charming husband. I really was Cinderella. This literal “some enchanted evening you will meet a stranger” evening will be forever etched in my memory. Enchanting!
– Marleen Barr
Photos by Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com & Clint Spaulding and Nicholas Hunt/PatrickMcMullan.com