Wendy Williams, Judith Miller and Confessions of A Serial Entertainer

The roster of media mavens, moguls and bold face names spotted today at Michael's.

lunch at michaels If the ear-splitting decibel level was any indication, there was plenty to talk about at Michael’s today. When we took a stroll around the dining room the main topics of discussion were the Mad Men finale (Interestingly enough, the East Coasters I talked to were largely disappointed, while West Coast fans loved it. Om…) and the recent reports of George Stephanopoulos’ hefty donation to The Clinton Foundation. Said one insider: “The big winner of all this attention directed towards George and ABC News could be Brian Williams.” Another media maven predicted George will have a reduced role in the coverage of the upcoming presidential election. In any event, by the time I got back to my desk to write this, ABC News announced there will be no further investigation into the matter. Alrighty then …

Diane-Clehane-and-Steven Stolman_350 square
Diane Clehane and Steven Stolman

I was joined today by fashion designer-turned-interior designer executive-turned-author Steven Stolman. I first met Steven back in the ’90s when I interviewed him for The New York Times. At the time, he was designing womenswear for Albert Nipon, where he had a very faithful following among the ladies who lunch set. Many years later, I met up with him again at Michael’s (where else?) when he was doing some consulting for Jack Rogers, manufacturers of those preppy whipstitch sandals that pop up this time of year in Southampton and Martha’s Vineyard. After a few years at the helm of Scalamandré, during which time he penned his first illustrated book, Scalamandré: Haute Décor (Gibbs Smith), he decided to leave the executive office and write books for a living. “Pauline Trigère always told me I was a better writer than designer,” he laughingly told me of his mentor’s prescient prediction. “It only took me 33 years to figure out she was right!”

Steven recently had not one–but two–books released within months of each other. After the success of Haute Décor, Utah publisher Gibbs Smith “believed I had a few more books in me.” And so he did. 40 Years of Fabulous: The Kips Bay Show House hit shelves a few weeks ago (and I mean that literally–the tome must weigh about ten pounds). The gorgeous coffee table book chronicles the forty-plus year history of the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, an annual spring event in New York, with dishy stories of and from interior design insiders and plenty of splashy photographs of rooms past and present. The foreword is written by design doyenne Bunny Williams. Every page is a testament to the ‘more is more’ esthetic of interior design that is seen among certain circles in New York, Palm Beach and Beverly Hills.

Steven’s long history with the Show House makes him the perfect narrator of the story of this quintessentially New York event, which has played a key role in the history of American interior design. “Early on in my career as a designer on Seventh Avenue, when I was in my twenties and thirties, I was a member of the Kips Bay Junior Committee but I aged my way off the committee. When I was at Scalamandré I reconnected with the Show House and now here we are.”

The herculean task of selecting images for the book was made even more challenging when he discovered that none of Hearst’s archives and Condé Nast’s files devoted to HG were digitized. “I did a lot of digging around in cardboard boxes in rooms of photographs,” said Steven of the curating process. “The best information I got came from The New York Times and The Washington Post, who both consistently covered the Show House every year.” The other daunting part of the project was wrangling designer participation. “I sent out letters and was less than overwhelmed at the response.” But, as luck would have it, Steven went to a swank industry affair several months after he began working on the book and, after word spread among designers’ enthusiastic publicists, “Everyone wanted to be in it–but we had to scramble because we’d already gone to press.” But all’s well that ends well. Tonight, Steven is being fêted at his first book signing at John Rosselli Antiques. He’ll also be signing books at the Show House on East 66th St. next Thursday and at The New York Design Center on June 4.