My New York friends are always asking what goes on in San Francisco. Plenty! There are meet-ups with friends, lots of parties, and so much live entertainment it’s hard to make a choice. Here’s a report on some of the events I enjoyed on my last trip.
SAN FRANCISCO OPERA GUILD FASHION NIGHT WITH ERDEM
This spring, droves of San Francisco fashionistas gussied up to view the latest collection from celebrated British designer Erdem Moralioglu at his first-ever runway presentation here.
Saks Fifth Avenue sponsored the event, co-chaired by Claire Fluhr and Anne Marie Massocca under the leadership of new Guild President Charlot Malin. It benefited the San Francisco Opera Guild’s music education programs, which reach more than 50,000 students in nearly 200 schools throughout Northern California.
Since Erdem Moralioglu’s last name is a pronunciation challenge, he brands himself simply as Erdem. A Canadian of British and Turkish parentage, he trained at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London and launched his label there in 2005. His many honors include Womenswear Designer of the Year (2014) from the British Fashion Council and Designer of the Year at Elle Style Awards (2015).
COCKTAILS IN THE NEW CRUISE TERMINAL
The venue for the Erdem show was the new San Francisco Cruise Terminal at Pier 27, located on the Embarcadero waterfront. Many in the fashion-conscious crowd were eagerly making their first visit to the Terminal, which was built when Piers 27 and 29 were renovated for the 2013 America’s Cup. The LEED silver-certified terminal boasts a 2.5-acre lawn.
Celebrating the arrival of spring, many in the mostly female crowd wore Erdem’s signature, English-influenced flowery prints (the English do love their gardens!). I can’t recall seeing seen so much vibrant color in one room.
Though San Franciscans usually dress casually, when the occasion demands glamour and panache—and this night certainly did—the social set can rise to the challenge and compete for stylishness with any city in the world.
THE RUNWAY SHOW
The show highlighted Erdem’s autumn/winter 2015 collection. He is celebrated for his detailed craftsmanship, unusual fabrics, and bold prints.
Erdem’s breathtaking designs are noteworthy for the sensuous and luxurious fabrics he uses. I thought his collection was particularly wearable in San Francisco, especially the evening coats—ideal protection on cool foggy nights, but fanciful enough for a black-tie occasion.
A live auction and a very private cocktail hour followed, underwritten by Guild member Arlene Inch for ticketholders at the “Couture” level and up. They had a chance to meet the charming and accessible Erdem. When I left, the room was still buzzing with lively conversations about fashion (and plans to hit the stores to buy more Erdem frocks!)
KATHY HILTON’S BIRTHDAY PARTY ON NOB HILL
Elisa Stephens, husband Ed Conlon, and friend Alan Malouf recently attended socialite Nicky Hilton’s lavish wedding in London. The last time the trio had been together in San Francisco was as hosts of a birthday fete for Nicky’s mother Kathy Hilton.
The elegant private dinner party took place on top of Nob Hill, one of the seven most famous hills of San Francisco. The evening proved that San Francisco’s reputation as a city of elegance and old world tradition still stands, thanks in part to those who cherish small, refined gatherings and keep the standards high.
Elisa and Ed hosted at their Beaux Arts-style home. Built in 1913 and known as the “Jewel Box of Nob Hill,” it’s one of the few remaining private homes on Nob Hill.
Elisa and Alan have been friends since they met as children in Hillsborough, the upscale community 20 minutes south of San Francisco.
Both have since decamped to San Francisco. Elisa, a lawyer, has been president of the Academy of Art University since 1992 and is the third generation of Stephens to operate the university, founded in 1929.
Who doesn’t know of the Hiltons? Kathy is married to Rick Hilton, son of Barron Hilton and grandson of Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotel chain, and their daughters are celebrity socialites Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton.
Alan and the Hiltons met through mutual friends and really hit it off. Although the couple is based in Los Angeles and enjoy frequent jaunts to their New York pied-a-terre, they are often guests in Alan’s box at the SF Opera openings.
The Hiltons flew up last year for their daughter Nicky’s book launch, hosted by Alan along with Isha and Asim Abdulla at their penthouse, which happily for them has since been sold, but sadly for their friends who have enjoyed many happy times there.
Kathy’s birthday provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate in San Francisco and partake of some the city’s superb sightseeing and gourmet dining experiences.
FRIENDS IN ATTENDANCE
A planeload of friends flew into town to celebrate. The evening was pure old-world elegance in a beautiful, antique-filled home.
DINNER BY FAMED CHEF GARY DANKO
When we walked downstairs to the dining room, we were greeted with a long table topped with soft candlelight and a profusion of flowers. We were intrigued when we passed the fantasy nightclub-style bar, as it looked like such a fun party room.
Dinner was prepared by award-winning Chef Gary Danko. It takes months to snare a reservation at his eponymous restaurant, which has been going strong for sixteen years. Accompanying him was Greg Lopez, who oversaw the entire evening and made sure it all ran smoothly.
Every aspect of the evening was memorable. When this group entertains, they do it right. I’m hoping Kathy has left her heart in San Francisco and will want to celebrate another birthday in the “City By the Bay.”
Photographs by Drew Altizer and Jeanne Lawrence.
*Urbanite Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in San Francisco, Shanghai, and New York, and wherever else she finds a good story.