San Francisco Social Diary: Second Annual FOG Design+Art Fair Another Winner

The FOG Design+Art Fair Preview Gala was one of the city’s most vibrant events and a great sendoff for the modernist Fair’s second annual showing.


Kickoff Gala One of the Year’s Best Parties

San Francisco—The Old Guard of San Francisco and the young Tech Crowd mixed it up at the preview gala for the FOG Design+Art Fair 2015. It was one of the city’s most vibrant events and a great sendoff for the second annual Fair, a four-day celebration and exploration of modern and contemporary design, architecture, and art.

Already a destination for local and international collections, the Fair showcases dozens of prominent 20th-century and contemporary art and design dealers. Its attractions include dynamic exhibits, custom installations, lectures, and discussions with art and design leaders.

Interior Designer and Steering Committee member Douglas Durkin noted that the Fair reflects the spirit of San Francisco’s progressive community. “We are building FOG Design+Art Fair to be the West Coast destination for contemporary design and art,” he said.

The 2015 FOG Design+Art Fair Preview Gala offered patrons a special preview of exhibits and an exclusive buying opportunity before the Fair was open to the public.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: SF Opera Guild Presents “A Paris Holiday”

At this year’s annual San Francisco Opera Guild holiday dinner, the War Memorial Opera House stage was turned into a glamorous, intimate dinner party.



Charity committees everywhere try to come up with fresh, unique event ideas. The San Francisco Opera Guild managed to score a bull’s-eye with its annual black-tie party in December, A Paris Holiday, which revived the tradition of dinner on the War Memorial Opera House stage.

The evening also honored arts supporter and philanthropist Diane “Dede” Wilsey, whom Honorary Chair and SF Opera Director David Gockley called “an advocate for the arts and a role model in our cherishedcommunity.” He called fundraising “an extreme sport” and dubbed her “an athlete of Olympian caliber,” adding, “She’s San Francisco’s secret weapon!”

The Opera Guild holiday dinner closed the fall opera season and concluded the Guild’s 75th anniversary year at the War Memorial Opera House.

Gregory and Charlot Malin, who was recently appointed President of the San Francisco Opera Guild.

Opera Board President Keith Geeslin, honoree Dede Wilsey, and Opera Director David Gockley.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: Autumn Events

Among the many social activities I enjoy in and around the San Francisco area is the Quail Motorsports Gathering in Carmel Valley.


My New York friends are always asking what goes on in San Francisco. Plenty! Especially wonderful is the proximity of so much natural beauty, like the ocean and wine country—the background for a couple of very special events I recently attended.

Continue reading

Shanghai Social Diary: Chongming, the Eco Island of Shanghai

On a visit to the ecological island of Chongming, near Shanghai, my group visited Dao Zhong Dao, a stunning concept hotel and restaurant.


After a late arrival on a flight from the U.S. to Shanghai, I awoke the next morning to an enticing email invitation to Chongming Island. My friend, French architect Jean-Pierre Heim, wanted me to join a group visiting his hotel project there.

The alluvial island, also called Eco-Island, formed from silt and rock, is in the Yangtze River Delta and had long been on my must-see list.

But Heim’s group was leaving in only two hours! I abandoned my plan to spend a few days recovering from jet lag and was soon out the door.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: Spring in the City ~ Charitable Events in San Francisco

Among the Bay City’s many recent charitable events was the fashion show/lunch benefit for the San Francisco Ballet, sponsored by Neiman-Marcus at the Fairmont Hotel.

Civic-minded, cosmopolitan San Francisco offers cultural activities for every age and interest. Here are highlights from some philanthropic events I attended recently.


The San Francisco Ballet Auxiliary held its annual spring fashion show fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel, this year in partnership with Neiman Marcus, the Dallas-based luxury department store.


In a nice coincidence, displayed in the Fairmont lobby on the day of the Ballet benefit was one of the outrageous costumes from San Francisco’s Beach Blanket Babylon, the world’s longest-running musical revue.

Perched atop Nob Hill, the luxurious Fairmont Hotel was the perfect venue for the San Francisco Ballet fundraiser.

In celebration of its 40th year, the pop culture-spoofing show Beach Blanket Babylon is displaying costumes around the city.

One of the over-the-top hats that are hallmarks of the show, this one features such iconic San Francisco sights as the Transamerica Pyramid, City Hall, and the “Painted Ladies” houses across from Alamo Square Park.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: San Francisco Opera Guild’s 75th Anniversary

At the San Francisco Opera Guild’s fundraiser, POPera!, famed drag queen Kotya Smirnoff Skyy and award-winning soprano Deborah Voigt performed for the glamorous, nostalgic evening.

This spring, the San Francisco Opera Guild presented POPera!, a dazzling evening of cabaret and surprises celebrating the Opera Guild’s 75th anniversary.

Held at the historic Fairmont Hotel, the event referenced the city’s glamorous past in many ways, from the invitation itself to the cocktail party in the Cirque Room, to the entertainment in the Venetian Room, where Tony Bennett debuted his iconic “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

The invitation featured this vintage photo, a General Motors advertisement from the 1950s discovered in the commemorative book, The Fairmont: The First Century of a San Francisco Landmark.

In keeping with the historical theme, some of the former chairs were present, including Associate Guild member Barbara Henry, Guild President Karen Kubin, former Fol de Rol Chair Donna Casey, 2014 Opera Ball Co-Chair Teresa Medearis, former Fol de Rol Chair Beverly Coughlin, Associate Guild member Anne Kasanin, Education Fund founder Jane Hartley; former Guild presidents Ann Girard, Diane Rubin, and Marilyn Timoney; and former Fol de Rol Chair Sarah Duryea.

Barbara Henry, Karen Kubin, Donna Casey, Teresa Medearis, Beverly Coughlin, Anne Kasanin, Jane Hartley, Ann Girard, Diane Rubin, Marilyn Timoney, Sarah Duryea.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: Social Season 2014

Performer Amber Riley sang against a lovely backdrop of the San Francisco Bay at sunset during the star-studded benefit for UCSF Medical Center, a highlight of the city’s spring social season.

San Francisco seems to be the center of the world right now, and here are just a few more of the events happening around the booming city.


This spring, San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall played host to an evening of star-studded entertainment to raise money for both The Painted Turtle camp for chronically ill children and UCSF Medical Center, whose Benioff Children’s Hospital is ranked one of the top children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. World News & World Report.

Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center, with award-winning actress Renée Zellweger.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: San Francisco’s Winter Social Season 2014

San Francisco kicked off the winter 2014 social season with a collection of events, including the dazzling and completely sold-out SF Ballet opening gala.

Deciding to winter in San Francisco turned out to be a brilliant choice. New York City has suffered through record cold and snow, while San Francisco experienced an uncharacteristically warm and dry January. The social season was heated here, too, as you’ll see from the following reports.


The San Francisco Ballet’s 2014 Opening Night Gala performance on January 21 brought its theme, “Phenomenal,” to life! A record 3,200 balletomanes filled the War Memorial Opera House to see the company deemed “a national treasure” by the The New York Times when it appeared at Lincoln Center last fall.

The chairs of this wildly successful event included Auxiliary Gala Chair Tanya Marietta Powell, Gala Dinner Chair Patricia Ferrin Loucks, and DĂ©cor Chair Shelley Gordon, along with Richard Barker as Honorary Chair.

The evening’s glamour quotient could not have been higher. The ladies dazzled, gowned in rich jewel tones and many also adorned with Bulgari baubles in support of the jewelry house that underwrote the launch party. (Not hard to muster enthusiasm for this show of support!)

Ballet Gala committee members Marie Hurabiell, Shelley Gordon, Alison Mauze, Suzanne Thornton, Patricia Ferrin Loucks, Richard Barker, Tanya Powell, Betsy Linder, Cathy Goodman, Debra Taylor, and Judy Anderson.

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: The America’s Cup Regatta

During the America’s Cup final, thousands of spectators swarmed the San Francisco Bay, some crowded at onshore vantage points, eager for a clear look (and maybe a photo!) of the action.


The year 2013 was a historic one for San Francisco: The city played host to the 34th America’s Cup (AC) regatta—one of the most exciting events in San Francisco’s history and one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history as well.

The 162-year-old AC is the oldest sport trophy event in the world, first awarded by the Royal Yacht Squadron for a race around England’s Isle of Wight in 1851.

While wintering in San Francisco, in January I lunched with Tom Ehman, Vice Commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which represents defending champion Oracle Team USA. He said the San Francisco event was the “best ever” and asked, “How can you imagine doing it anyplace else?”

Likewise, America’s Cup Organizing Committee Chair Mark Buell said, “[Oracle owner] Larry [Ellison] delivered on his vision: the fastest boat, the latest technology, and the best sailors. And San Francisco delivered on its promise: the best venues for spectators to watch the races and a spectacular setting. We’re all hoping the America’s Cup will race here again.”

Fans are awaiting news about the location for the next Cup in 2017. Most think it will be San Francisco again, but negotiations have not been finalized.

Oracle CEO Russell Coutts and the city of San Francisco are clashing over the cost to taxpayers and the benefits of hosting the Cup. Supporters say San Francisco received international attention and press coverage you couldn’t buy at any price.

More important than potential revenue, the racing events turned the waterfront into a free community playground for Bay Area citizens, their families, and visitors.

Since racing took place close to shore, spectators enjoyed unprecedented views of the race amid stunning scenery.

Other cities being considered include San Diego, which hosted the Cup in 1988, 1992, and 1995, and Hawaii, where billionaire Oracle owner Larry Ellison owns the island of Lanai. Rumors are swirling that Long Beach and Newport, R.I. are in the mix as well. As has written, “Stay tuned. It’s never dull around Cup negotiations.”

For a taste of what it was like to be a spectator at various venues during the 2013 Cup, read my dispatch:

Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond 1950–1990, at the de Young Museum

Jewelry, sketches, and archival materials are all on view at The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950-1990.

San Francisco—The de Young Museum launched The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950–1990 with a glamorous opening night party this fall. Featuring approximately 150 of the renowned Italian jewelry house’s creations, the exhibition will continue until February 17, 2014.

At the exclusive gala for only 280, the dinner guests went all out, with the fashionistas wearing beautiful evening gowns accented with their best Bulgari baubles. Flying in for the occasion was Bulgari VP Nicola Bulgari and his daughter Veronica, and CEO Jean-Christophe Babin.

The copper-clad de Young Museum building, designed by renowned Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron, is located in Golden Gate Park amid 1,000 acres of parkland.

Continue reading