San Francisco Social Diary: Winter Social Events

The grand opening of the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art was among the dazzling events I attended in the Bay Area this winter.

Three fabulous events bedazzled San Francisco this winter: Attilio Codognato’s extraordinary jewels went on display at the Sorokko Gallery, the much-anticipated Manetti Shrem Museum had a gala opening celebration, and Shreve & Company moved to a shiny new flagship store. And I have first-hand reports on all of them!

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San Francisco Social Diary: The First Lady of Napa

The Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, Napa Valley. The late vintners and philanthropists Margrit and Robert Mondavi were instrumental in transforming Napa Valley into a wine, food, and culture mecca.

NAPA VALLEY – “SALUTE, SANTE, CHEERS, MARGRIT! Tonight we raise our glass to you!” read the invitation from Festival Napa Valley, for a tribute to Margrit Biever Mondavi this past July.

The 91-year-old widow of vintner Robert Mondavi, who is credited with putting California wines on the world map, Margrit was honored for her more than four decades of dedicated work to help fine art, music, food, and wine flourish in the California wine country.

I flew in for the occasion to be with my dear friend, knowing she had been ill and fearing this Festival might be her last. Indeed, just weeks later, on September 2, Margrit’s remarkable life came to an end.

Though each of the ten evening events at Festival 2016 was extraordinary, the one honoring Margrit at the Far Niente Winery was to me the most extraordinary of all.

Margrit Mondavi, one of Napa’s most revered and influential figures, showcased fine food and wine, and encouraged and supported great vintners, chefs, artists, and musicians.

Robert and Margrit Mondavi celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2003, five years before he passed away. During their 28-year marriage, they traveled the world to promote California wines.

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Shanghai Social Diary in New York: China Institute Celebrates 90th Year Gala

China Institute 90th Anniversary Gala Co-Chair Yue-Sai Kan with Peking Opera actors, who performed in New York City.


China Institute celebrated its 90th anniversary in New York City with a glittering gala that included a surprise performance by a troupe of Peking Opera performers. Three people were honored for their contribution to increasing understanding and cooperation between the U.S and China: Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman; Richard Gelfond, IMAX Corporation CEO; and fashion designer Guo Pei.

I was elated at the inclusion of Guo Pei, whom I predicted would become one of the biggest international names in haute couture when I first saw her work.

China Institute President James Heimowitz, Gala Co-Chair Sophia Sheng, Haute Couture Designer Beatrice Pei, and China Institute Board Chair Chien Chung “Didi” Pei.

Guan Wang, the evening’s emcee and chief political correspondent for CCTV America’s Mandarin service, with TV presenter and writer Chiu-Ti Jansen.

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San Francisco Social Diary: 2016 Festival Napa Valley, Part II

The 2016 Festival Napa Valley is coming up in July, celebrating music, performance, food, and wine, at stunning venues.


Festival Napa Valley, one of America’s premiere summer destination events, will offer a dazzling roster of cultural and culinary attractions from July 15-24, 2016, its eleventh year. Eminent classical, opera, jazz, and dance artists will perform, and intimate food and wine affairs will be hosted by the region’s top vintners.

Over the years, the Festival has introduced me, along with other visitors, to many artists, local vintners, and wineries that aren’t on the tourist route maps, which has given me an insider’s view of the California wine country lifestyle. If you want to share this experience, have a terrific time, and meet the locals, this is the way to go. Put it on your calendar for this year (and next, as well!).

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San Francisco Social Diary: 2016 Festival Napa Valley

The 2016 Festival Napa Valley is coming up in July, celebrating music, performance, food, and wine, at stunning venues such as Opus One winery, seen here.


Napa Valley – Festival Napa Valley, one of America’s premiere summer destination events, is presenting its eleventh season July 15-24, 2016. The glorious ten-day fete features a dazzling roster of exclusive engagements by preeminent classical, opera, jazz, and dance artists paired with intimate food and wine affairs hosted by the region’s top vintners.

Among this year’s star-studded lineup are Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, jazz legend Sergio Mendes, classical violinist Sarah Chang, award-winning conductor Carlo Ponti (son of actress Sophia Loren, who will be in attendance), and the San Francisco Ballet.

Visit to see all of this season’s performers and venues.

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San Francisco Social Diary: The California Pacific Medical Center 2020 Gala

The CPMC gala was held on the Embarcadero’s Pier 35, a former dock that’s now a bustling hub of museums, restaurants, and office space.


There had been a lot of buzz about the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) 2020 Gala sponsored by luxury fashion house Chanel, so I was eager to go. It lived up to expectations and raised more than $2.5 million dollars for CPMC medical programs, which notably include clinical trials for food allergies.

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San Francisco Social Diary: The San Francisco Ballet & FOG Design + Art Fair

The San Francisco Ballet Opening Gala kicked off the winter 2016 social season with a dazzling selection of performances.


The San Francisco Ballet’s 2016 Opening Night Gala performance brought its theme, “Provocative,” to life! Balletomanes filled the War Memorial Opera House to see the company deemed “a national treasure” by the The New York Times.

This year’s chairs included Auxiliary Gala Chair Jennifer Brandenburg, Gala Dinner Chair Christine Leong Connors, and Décor Chair Rhonda Mahendroo, as well as Honorary Chairs Barbro and Bernard Osher.

The Gala was the first event of the current season, which includes three acclaimed full-length productions as well as a wide variety of world premieres and works by choreographers such as Jerome Robbins and Christopher Wheeldon. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the prestigious SF Ballet Orchestra, considered one of the best ballet orchestras in the country.

Members of the SF Ballet Gala committee.

More members of the SF Ballet Gala committee.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Burning Man

At the annual Burning Man festival, a weeklong communal artistic and musical event, tens of thousands of creative types and free spirits create a temporary, magical “city” in the remote Nevada Desert.

Black Rock, Nev. – During the week leading up to Labor Day, almost 70,000 revelers will gather in the Black Rock desert in Nevada, 110 miles north of Reno, to experience the annual Burning Man Festival, an elaborate and colorful art spectacle like no other in the world. The festival takes its name from the ritual burning of a wooden effigy known as the “Man,” an ancient and primal ritual.

Massive crowds gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert annually to celebrate the Burning Man festival of art, music, pageantry and community.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Opera Guild Fashion Night and a Hilton Birthday

During San Francisco’s spring social season, I enjoyed an Erdem fashion show held at the new San Francisco Cruise Terminal, and attended a glamorous dinner party with friends that showed off the city’s Old World charm.

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.


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.

Fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu with Opera Guild President Charlot Malin.

Opera Guild co-chairs Anne Marie Massocca and Claire Fluhr, with Opera Director David Gockley.

Huifen Chan with Saks GM Robert Arnold-Kraft, who sponsored the evening.

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San Francisco Social Diary: 51st Annual San Francisco Debutante Ball

At this spring’s 51st annual San Francisco Debutante Ball, 24 young ladies made their debut before friends and family.


Twenty-four stunning young women made their bows at the 51st annual San Francisco Debutante Ball on Saturday, June 20. They crossed the threshold to adulthood at the Westin St. Francis in front of a crowd of 650 family, friends, and community members.

Hailey Elizabeth Cusack, Thomas James Polite, Katarina Lina Churich, and Peter James Campana.

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