The invitation arrived one afternoon in the dead of summer. A large envelope, hand-addressed, announcing a party to celebrate the centennial of the legendary jewelry store Van Cleef & Arpels.
Now, I'm not a Van Cleef & Arpels customer. I don't think I've ever entered the premises as the type of jewelry they carry is well beyond my budget and it's too intimidating to even look. But this invitation sounded like fun so I RSVP'd and took the M11 bus down Ninth Avenue to the Hammerstein Ballroom on the appointed day.
The place was easy to find thanks to the klieg light illumination and the scores of beautiful people alighting from their limos and posing for the paparazzi on the red carpet. Thankfully my name was on the guest list so I didn't have to slink off with my tail between my seriously under-dressed legs!
Once inside the fun really started. Greeted by trays of French champagne and fancy hors d'œuvres I felt much more in the spirit of the evening! When the party moved through the lobby and into the foyer my jaw dropped. Posed in "tableaux vivants" depicting the sights of Paris, were the most gorgeous models dressed in couture gowns and wearing the latest from the Van Cleef & Arpels collection of exceptional jewels. From the Jardins des Tuileries to the Place Vendôme, the mannequins posed in Lanvin, Valli, and Oscar de la Renta while modeling earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and watches from the boutique's homage to the city of its birth, Paris.
The party continued into the ballroom that had been transformed into a combination runway and nightclub. Naturally there was a roped-off VIP area that required a password for entry, but knowing my limits I opted for the more common seating in front. The champagne continued to flow as the crowd filled in in anticipation of the evening's "special performance". Our patience was rewarded when a full fledged fashion show began. Brilliantly designed and choreographed, the Elite models strutted across the stage wearing a different selection of evening wear while showcasing Van Cleef & Arpels' 2007 collection of jewels. The effect was stunning.
The evening was an amazing surprise. I still don't know why I was invited, but I'd like to thank whomever was responsible for a fabulous time. I don't think I'll ever be a Van Cleef & Arpels customer, but maybe, if I win the lottery, who knows!