Fern Mallis and One Criminally Dressed Designer | Dishing With a Global Ambassador

Lunch At Michaels

LunchAtMichaelsIt’s been somewhat of a mixed bag at Michael’s this month with plenty of the famous faces usually spotted on Wednesdays having already hightailed it outta here for the Hamptons, Nantucket and other chichi vacation spots. Between TCA, Allen & Co.’s recent summit for movers and shakers and the seemingly daily announcements touting seismic changes in publishing, we’ve also noticed it’s been a bit quieter (in terms of bold face names, not decibel level) at 55th and Fifth in recent weeks. Still, in service to our faithful readers, we kept our weekly date to check in on those intrepid power lunchers who are still dishing despite summer’s siren call.

Mickey Ateyeh, Diane Clehane, Bisila Bokoko and Judy Agisim.
Mickey Ateyeh, Diane Clehane, Bisila Bokoko and Judy Agisim.
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Today I was joined by fashion industry insider Mickey Ateyeh, fresh off her vacation in Italy, who, it must be said, knows everyone who is anyone. Mickey put together today’s lunch to introduce me to her longtime pal, PR maven Judith Agisim, who, in turn, brought along her client Bisila Bokoko. I’d seen Judith in this very room many times but never had the occasion to meet her. And, as you already know, in certain circles, all roads lead to Michael’s.

When I arrived a little before noon Bisila was already in the lounge, so I took the opportunity to chat with her about her position as global ambassador to The Liceu Barcelona Opera House, where, while based in New York City, she is charged with promoting the historic house in the States and around the world. With two master’s degrees in international relations and business and a law degree from Universidad CEU San Pablo, Bisila told me she has always worked with global companies and her dream has always been to “be a catalyst for change.” In her current role with Barcelona’s Opera House, she is charged with enticing American opera fans and the culturally curious to visit Barcelona. “Eight million Americans visit Spain every year — there are so many reasons that the Opera House should be a stop on their tour.” Of course, said Bisila, the architecture alone is reason enough to visit the building, which was constructed in the 19th century. But it has a storied history as well. The Opera House (which seats 4,000!) has hosted many legendary performers, including Plácido Domingo and is unique within the opera world, she explained, because unlike the rest of the houses in Europe built for royalty, the Barcelona Opera House was “built by the bourgeois” and has always been enjoyed by all. “So in my role, it’s important to keep the spirit alive that everyone is welcome. It’s not just the blue bloods who enjoy the music.”

But the city’s social swans are most definitely on Bisila’s radar and, with Judith’s help, she’s been meeting them all since the women began working together in February of this year. “She has cleverly set up lunches with many of the most important people in fashion, business and society, which has been very helpful,” said Bisila (We’re so very flattered!). “It is very important to connect with the people in the city who have a great interest in opera and the arts.” Last month, 120 of Manhattan’s top influencers were invited to a cocktail party at The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute on Park Avenue. The Opera House got a royal boost from none other than the Queen herself, who was on hand to greet the A-listers (including Sharon Bush and Annette de la Renta) and the opera aficionados who attended. “She was so warm and inviting and everyone wanted to meet her,” said Bisila. “The goal was to make a very good impression.” Mission accomplished.