A Winter Palace at the Plaza

A flurry of custom ball gowns swishing upon beige marble tiled floors, long thin white-dipped branches, and the glimmering decadence of golden light cascading upon the elite of Manhattan, Saturday night was a joyous success of philanthropy for The New York Junior League at the Plaza Hotel.

Within this historic and emblematic setting, The NYJL celebrated a 109 years of community service and honored seven members during it’s 58th annual Winter Ball, “A Winter Palace.”

As couples waited patiently in sets of two for their turns in front of society reporters and photographers at the step and repeat and the cheerful clinks of champagne glasses softly echoed through the hall, Kathryn Chalmers, NYJL Vice Chair of Fundraising, warmly greeted us in a multi-tiered ball gown made by the late Alexander McQueen.

Kathyrn Chalmers, NYJL Vice Chair of Fundraising
Kathyrn Chalmers, NYJL Vice Chair of Fundraising

André Leon Talley, the legendary editor-at-large for Vogue Magazine, entered the greeting hall and the air held still for a moment, but then I remembered to breathe. Adorned in a floor length Chado Ralph Rucci robe, he grinned with approachable happiness and beheld the presence of the Vogue zeitgeist.

Leaning gently on a tall back blue velvet chair, commenting on the current weather, André said “if your publication is Haute Living, then tell your readers my home is my sanctuary.” One got a sense of his true nature as he spoke lovingly about the trees surrounding his White Plains abodein a tone of concern as their survival was challenged due to the unusual late winter blizzard.

The Grand Ballroom at The Plaza Hotel

The grandfather clock chimed and all were led into the Grand Ballroom to enjoy the presentation. Guests dined upon tuna tartare and fillet mignon in sets of ten among lavish tables fit for a contemporary Louis XIV. Honorees Helen Bearn Pennoyer,  Pamela Bimson Reade,  Christine Drinan, Fiona Grant, Amy Phelan, Jill Ferrari Rosen, Saundra Smith were distinguished during a ceremony presided by André Leon Talley.

Following the presentation, a luxurious buffet of sweets swept guests into the night for desserts and dancing.