Navigating the Upper Crust of the East End

East Hampton

When one thinks of the Hamptons, they likely conjure up images of East Hampton, home to many of the summer estates and vacation shares that embody the spirit of the region, helping cement the village’s nickname as the Playground of the Rich. At the height of the real estate boom, Ron Baron of Baron Capital Management sold 40 oceanfront acres on East Hampton’s Further Lane for a then-record $103 million. Two former First Ladies (including Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who was born at Southampton Hospital) summered in East Hampton during childhood, and President Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton found weeklong solace here for two summers in the late 1990s.

The natural landscape and sprawling estates make for a creative environment that has called to artists over the years. The artist’s colony reputation began with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in the mid-20th century, and continued with Willem de Kooning, which accounts for the annual Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game, where the teams have included the likes of Alec Baldwin, Christie Brinkley, Dustin Hoffman, and John Irving. Continuing in the artist tradition in 2010, Eric Firestone Gallery (4 Newtown Lane; 631.604.2386) is hosting an exhibition titled “Andy Warhol: Dylan to Duchamp,” featuring 150 photos of the artist, including never-before-seen shots of Warhol at work. There are art galleries found at virtually every turn, even where you don’t expect them: Tiffany & Co.’s boutique (53 Main St.; 631.324.1700) is dedicated to hosting East End artists. The wealthy flock to East Hampton every year, where they find a stable of established and new locales ready to cater to their whims.


East Hampton’s reputation as the heart of the Hamptons is reflected in its plethora of high-end boutiques and stores. Some of the world’s most respected brands literally “pop-up” over the summer; last year, shoppers were able to peruse the temporary stores of Hermès, which opened its first-ever seasonal boutique on Main Street, La Perla, and Jimmy Choo. Trina Turk (79 Main St.; 631.324.7075) experienced such great success with its pop-up shop in 2009, it is back again this season with a “chic beach shack” featuring limited-edition vintage prints by artist David Weidman. It is joined by Balenciaga (54 Main St.; 631.324.0107), which opened its first-ever pop-up store in East Hampton on Memorial Day weekend. The 1,000-square-foot boutique, developed by artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière and French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, sells an assortment of women’s accessories, including coveted handbags, sunglasses, shoes, and jewelry. Ralph Lauren’s Polo County Store (31-33 Main St.; 631.324.1222) is not going anywhere after the summer, however. It first opened in 1988, back when the town wasn’t quite as well known amongst the jetset. As the audience grew, so did the storefront, which continues to expand, firmly rooting itself in the history of the village; the framework of the building that houses its children’s store is the oldest structure in the entire town. This led Lauren, who himself is a familiar face in the Hamptons, to partner with the East Hampton Historical Society, and the Polo County Store now sells an exclusive t-shirt, with 100 percent of proceeds going to preserving the community. London Jewelers (2 Main St.; 631.329.3939) is also firmly rooted in the region, as the brand’s first locale opened in 1926. Today, the well-known local Udell family, respected throughout the East End, operates five London Jewelers outposts in the Hamptons, where customers can peruse collections from the likes of Audemars Piguet, Cartier, H. Stern, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Bulgari. For the most intimate shopping experience, the East Hampton showroom’s third floor features an audiovisual room that also serves as the venue for private shopping.


The culinary options in East Hampton reflect the discerning tastes of its wealthy denizens. Those who hail from Manhattan are most excited about this year’s debut of Serafina East Hampton (104 North Main St.; 631.267.3500). Owners Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato took over the former Matto location, which now offers northern Italian cuisine made from family recipes. It joins Babette’s (66 Newtown Lane; 631.329.5377), an established, low-key favorite where celebrity sightings happen as often as customers rave about the organic dishes. At Hunting Inn, The Palm (94 Main St.; 631.324.0411) offers heartier fare in a setting that is far more quaint than most of its other establishments.


On Saturday nights, the beautiful crowd flocks to Lily Pond (44 Three Mile Harbor Road; 631.324.3332). The celebrity-speckled Manhattan-style club scene kicked off the 2010 season with sets by international DJ superstar Paul Oakenfold, who was followed by house DJ, Sharam. Once the scene inside the 7,000-square-foot space gets too hot, guests can take reprieve on the 3,000-square-foot, temperature-controlled terrace.


What 11th Annual Art for Life

Russell Simmons’ East Hampton Estate

When Saturday, July 24

Why Raise funds for Rush Philanthropic’s core programs and non-profit arts and education organizations

Who This year, honorees will include Deepak Chopra and Alison & Chip Brady

How, and then don’t forget to wear white with a splash of summer colors to the star-studded bash, which in the past has been attended by everyone from Forest Whitaker, Alicia Keys, and Jay-Z to Martha Stewart, Donna Karan, Naomi Campbell, and a ton of other A-list names.