Monday, April 7, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dear Denise

This week we celebrate the 39th birthday of San Francisco’s favorite jetsetter and social queen and beloved friend, Denise Hale.

I’ve gathered tributes and friskiness and a splash of humor from noted admirers and worldly friends, including Michael Tilson Thomas, Ralph Rucci, Jo Schuman, Ken Fulk, and David Downton. 

New photos by Drew Altizer. Fun stuff.

Denise Hale: On the occasion of her April birthday we study her mystique, meet a world of friends, and drop in on her travel, jewels, fashion, country life, city life and parties. I reveal a few essential social tips. How to be a desired guest!

It’s a fun read—with lots of revelations. Pour a glass of well-chilled bubbly, or a glass of Montrachet (her favorite) and let’s toast the great Denise Hale and meet her merry tribe of talented pals.

New portrait of Denise Hale by the great portraitist, David Downton

Out and About with Denise Hale: Let’s See How She Earns the Title Social Queen

She’s a compelling dinner companion, opinionated, witty, provocative, with vivid stories of travel, no-count counts she has known, kings and queens, political scandals, famous faces, latest medical advances, art previews, and flirty fun.

Hale is out every night. She is on everyone’s guest list. She’s at the top ‘VIP’ guests, from the opera or ballet gala, the Vanity Fair Oscar party. She follows her best friend Zubin Mehta on his orchestral peregrinations. On her way to Los Angeles, she stops in at a medical fundraiser lunch, and later in the week’s it’s a private conference of top Silicon Valley tech minds, San Francisco fashion events, and in between there are dinners at private clubs, drinks at Claridge’s, a bar mitzvah, a museum exhibit preview, and girlfriends’ birthdays.

Oh, and did I tell you that she achieves this even though as a lifelong insomniac (blame war time), she never sleeps until 3am—and never rises before 11am. Lunch is at 1pm—never a minute earlier. Dinner’s at eight.

Colin Bailey, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, is a close friend.

Last week it was a private dinner celebrating the Salon Doré at the Legion of Honor museum. The evening was hosted by Dede Wilsey (queen of museum fund-raising), and Hale attended with new BFF Town & Country editor-in-chief, Jay Fielden.

I’ve known Denise Hale (formerly Mrs. Vincente Minelli, and for 28 years Mrs. Prentis Cobb Hale) for ages. I’ve written about her in many publications and on THE STYLE SALONISTE, where she is a permanent favorite. I’ve invited her to join me on a jaunt in Las Vegas, and we’ve enjoyed haricots verts at Le Voltaire in Paris. We email often (she’s an expert with her iPad), and she keeps a close and prudent eye on my travel adventures.

Denise Hale wearing Ralph Rucci, and accompanied by Ralph Rucci.

International couturier Ralph Rucci is also a close friend.

“There has been no one since Coco Chanel who can mix kings and queens with leather boys with her aplomb and I cannot ever imagine the world without her. I adore her,” said the designer.

Denise Hale glides effortlessly and glamorously from gala balls to private lunches, all the while managing her Northern California cattle ranch. From palaces and palazzi, and on to intime weekends with famous (and notorious) actors, she’s also the A-list guest and friend of best-selling authors, bad-boy dukes, a duchess or two, a leading dermatologist, city honchos, restaurateurs, editors-in-chief, heiresses, and the talented, eccentric, and witty around the world. 

Denise Hale at the San Francisco Coach store, celebrating Glenda Bailey’s newest book on Bazaar.

Above, Denise Hale cozies up to interior designer Peter Marino at a recent Chanel party.

Denise can always be counted on to throw her million-watt star power around a room even if she has recently been released from hospital.

Jet-lagged, just in from London or Belgrade, she will nonetheless dazzle. Does she ever in-hale? Absolutely.

John Traina and I once picked her up to attend a San Francisco celebration—and Denise was so pale in the back seat that we thought we should immediately take her home to bed. She demurred, and on arrival at the ball, she transformed into the belle of the ball. (You know her rule, of course: never cancel except for death. A guest has an obligation.)

Does she ever ex-hale? With pleasure.

She leaves her troubles at the door, and focuses on intense chats with guests, ensuring that everyone feels like a star. You’d never know that a mudslide had blocked the road to her ranch, or that her German Shepherd had been attacked by a coyote and was seriously injured. (See David Downton’s tips on this talent to be a gracious guest, below.)

At a recent party for the Valentino store opening and dinner at the Battery, she focused on longtime pal, Carlos Souza. They’ve known each other for thirty years, see each other seldom, and spent the evening catching up.

A recent shot of Denise Hale with Valentino’s international envoy Carlos Souza, a longtime friend, at a private dinner at The Battery.

Count on Denise Hale to support her friends, and to be great company. Her evening uniform: black silk shoes, a black silk clutch, black silk twill pants (Ralph Rucci), and a beaded jacket or cashmere tunic or silk evening top, with lavish additions of Bulgari necklaces, Boucheron rings, de Grisogono bracelets, and Cartier earrings, some of them from the seventies, a major Bulgari bracelet from the sixties.

Denise Hale, out and about with Ken Fulk.

Last week, dinner at Archetype, the hot new Howard Backen-designed restaurant in St. Helena, and the next evening a party with interior designer and BFF Ken Fulk.

Denise Hale wearing an Hermes shawl, with Greg Lopez and Alex Chases.

There was the opening of the chic Ferragamo store in San Francisco, hosted by Vanessa Getty, Trevor Traina, Allison Speer and Kathryn Lasater.

A lovely evening at the San Francisco Ballet gala with Alex Chases, great hair stylist.

San Francisco’s social life is lively and rich year-round, thanks to the city’s generous philanthropists. Denise Hale is a longtime fixture of the scene.

Now, Let's Speed Up to Cloverdale to Visit Denise in the Country

It’s a mellow summer afternoon at the HE Ranch, and lunch is about to be served on the jasmine-scented brick terrace overlooking the pool.

Shimmering handcrafted Burmese silver pagodas from Bagan create a blaze of light on the elaborately patterned pietra dura marble dining table, custom-crafted in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. White ‘Iceberg’ roses tinged with pink are arranged in Burmese silver goblets among eighteenth-century English serving platters and monogrammed pure white Irish linen napkins.

Handcrafted silver pagodas from Burma glitter on the dining table, a marble pietra dura creation from Agra. Photography by Lisa Romerein.

The menu includes al dente spaghetti with just-picked heirloom tomatoes, accented with a few basil leaves and extra-virgin Italian olive oil, simple and traditional, a style she learned first in Rome.

Denise is chic in her country uniform of white Chanel t-shirt, perfectly pressed ivory twill Ralph Rucci slacks, and a dazzle of Bulgari gold and diamond bracelets and necklaces. Tomorrow, same outfit, with an Indian emerald necklace, acquired many years ago in Jaipur.

Hydrangeas on the hacienda terrace are from specialist grower Dr. Jerry Bolduan, Green Valley Growers, Sebastapol, California.

Sheltered beneath mossy three-hundred-year old oaks and surrounded by fragrant lemon trees and a barrage of pale green hydrangeas, a guest could easily imagine that this is a dreamy villa in Tuscany or a fabled corner of the Dordogne.

“My husband, Prentis Cobb Hale, the love of my life, always said that when I come through the gates of the ranch, I’m transformed, I become a different person,” said Hale. “In the city I belong to the world. In the country, I love to be alone. I invite very few friends. Mostly in the summer. It’s so beautiful here and I want to share it with special people.”

“The first time I went up to the ranch with Prentis was April 8, 1969, I thought it was the most depressing house I’d ever seen,” recalled Hale. “It was very dark and dusty. But I thought it had possibilities. We freshened it, brought in some antiques. John Dickinson advised me. We collected modern art. Now it has become my home, my haven.”

It’s almost three hours from the city—a refuge and spiritual haven.

“Prentis was a man of great charisma, a big game hunter, president of the San Francisco Opera, an outdoorsman, involved in the cultural life of the city,” continued Hale. “The ranch was a great retreat for him”

The adobe house had been built in the fifties, and was used for only two months a year as a hunting retreat.

She infused the rooms with her European style and antique Persian rugs, marble obelisks from Florence, stacks of books everywhere, fresh flowers and fragrant fruit from her garden.

Guests, intoxicated by the pure country air, drift off to sleep on Frette, Porthault, and Pratesi linens in garden cottages decorated by the great John Dickinson. Even in the middle of nowhere, the grand appliquéd cream and blue headboard was custom-made for her bed in the seventies by the palazzo workshops of Emilio Pucci, through designer Valerian Rybar. Oh, the opulence.

But Hale remains an enigma. She works hard to manage and maintain the ranch. With ranch manager Don McNab, who Hale calls ‘the absolute boss’, she achieved national certified organic status recently for her beef cattle from the USDA.

“It look two years, with constant inspections, but we were determined and I’m so proud,” said Hale, whose work involves supervising repairs to miles of fences, keeping up the roads, repairing roofs, overseeing an arborist who maintains the trees, replacing a maze of water pipes, grooming the gardens, and taking extreme summer heat and drought and the wrath of winter storms in her stride. 

Power outages on New Year’s Eve. Done that. Phone wires nibbled by mice. Yes, it happened. Drought, water pipes bursting, cattle astray, wildfires at a nearby property, mudslides, torrential rain, and heat waves—she has conquered them all.

A Visit to Denise in the City

From her moss green silk velvet-walled Russian Hill apartment overlooking San Francisco Bay, Denise Minnelli Hale has reigned for more than four decades as San Francisco’s most famous, Eurocentric, and truly glamorous jet setter. An accomplished and old-school hostess, she gathers coteries of attractive guests for ultra-private dinners in London, romantic soirees in Paris, high-profile gatherings in San Francisco and New York. 

"Perched from her all-enveloping green silk velvet lair high above San Francisco, the divine Mrs. Hale oversees the world and those whom she loves with the biggest, most tender heart,” Rucci noted. “If Denise decides that you are a friend, her level of determination, loyalty, kindness and belief has no measure. “

She wears her elegance and her essence of cool just as she wears her Bulgari and Boucheron jewels, like a second skin.

Her style is consistent and it appears effortless, and always rather understated.

“I don’t follow fashion,” said Hale. “For me, the simpler, the better. I love understated, beautifully cut clothes.”

She’s fiercely loyal to just a few designers.

In sixties Rome, it was classic dresses by Federico Forquet and party gowns by Roberto Capucci. In Beverly Hills she loved Galanos. GianFranco Ferre made her custom made ballgowns and sequined evening tunics each season.

Now her polish and perfection is emphasized with Ralph Rucci evening- and daywear, her uniform.

Custom-made Ralph Rucci double-faced cashmere jackets, black or white, plus her new red shagreen and diamond di Grisogono cuffs, classic Bulgari necklaces, David Webb bracelets, a James de Givenchy diamond pave sea anemone pin, are daily wear. Her coiffure is neat, she daubs no color on her nails, and she wears little makeup. Classic.

For a gala, she’ll visit the bank vault and select perhaps a stunning David Web diamond pin, an Imperial jade and diamond ring, a gold and diamond Bulgari bracelet ( a birthday gift when she was nineteen), or large sapphire earrings that seem to shoot sparks. Then they go straight back to the bank.

David Downton Draws Denise

The great London artist/illustrator David Downton has been a close friend and confidante of Denise Hale for many years.

I asked him for tips and insider rules on understanding the world of Denise.

New portrait of Denise Hale, April 2014, by the celebrated London artist/illustrator, David Downton.

Inside Denise's World, Exclusive for The Style Saloniste, by David Downton

Sure, Mrs. Hale has lived in the US for a year or two, but you might not guess it from her accent. Those rolled r's and soft and sibilant and very sexy and mysterious s's, for a start. Pay attention! And her unpredictable syntax and delicious conspiratorial tone are glamorously Serbian still. You will need to learn to follow Denise closely. Like all the classic languages, hers can be a challenge at first, but once you have mastered it there will be dividends.

Being witty is your ultimate goal

If Mrs. Hale befriends you, you will stay befriended. She is fiercely loyal. Should you be unmasked as a serial killer, you can still count on her support ("Darling they were bores! Better off dead") A bad boy is a good thing,

But "don't rock the boat." Being attractive, attentive and male will get you to the nursery slopes but don't, please don't, turn out to be a slob, a fake or a phony. She has your number. Disappoint, and don't expect a returned call.

Mrs. Hale lives in a time zone as yet unchartered. Set your watch to Denise O'clock and don't even think of ending your marriage, firing the help or planning a trip to India before noon. Mrs. Hale will be unavailable for counsel or comment. Much better to schedule your crisis between midnight and 2am, when you will receive the best advice you never paid for.

An invitation to Mrs. Hale's ranch, the HE RANCH, in Sonoma County is coveted indeed. Be under no illusion, it is her German Shepherds who enjoy droits de seigneur. They will decide how much of their mistresses' attention you warrant, when you can swim in the pool (they patrol it or dive bomb it) and whether your invitation will be re-issued. Make friends with man's best friend. Quick!

Dinner can and will stretch to the small hours. Choose your venue carefully. My preference would be the jewel-like Fumoir bar at Claridge's in London, where the atmosphere is becoming to a lady and her diamonds, where the barmen are great (and the barmen are straight) and where a medicinal glass of Montrachet or of champagne (do NOT forget a silver straw to remove the bubbles) will make for a convivial time indeed. Prepare for a late evening, and you will be rewarded with a memorable night.

The Worldly Mrs. Minelli Hale

If she didn’t live in San Francisco, where would she alight?

“I’d travel. I’m at home wherever I am,” she said. “When you are curious, you are married to the world.”

And she continues to travel. Recent trips have included Paris and Belgrade, London and Los Angeles, and Macau. She’s happy exploring the fleshpots of Las Vegas (Wynn Encore resort, designed by pal Roger Thomas, is her favorite quick luxury getaway.)

Sipping Champagne at the maharajah’s palace in Udaipur, trekking through the Hermitage with Ralph Rucci in St. Petersburg is her passion. She traveled to Angkor Wat long before it was fashionable (or safe), and her trip to Burma fourteen years ago garnered her the silver pagodas that adorn her dining table. 

Denise Hale with Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga.

“I loved going to Petra with GianFranco in the royal Jordanian helicopter, and adored seeing the Taj Mahal with Zubin and Nancy Mehta,” said Hale.

“I am in some ways the little girl from Belgrade whose grandparents exposed me to an international life,” she said. “I went to Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, and Baron Alexis de Rédé’s Orientalist Ball in Paris. I arrive at a party and I leave my troubles at the door. I believe in ‘live and let live’. That’s my motto.”

At a recent event at The Battery with Allison Speer, Lindsay Tusk and Leigh Mathes.

A longtime patron of the San Francisco Symphony, and the Delancey Street Foundation (a notably successful drug rehabilitation center) , and a generous supporter of public television (she underwrites seasons of ‘Downton Abbey’). She recently donated the Denise and Prentis Cobb Hale Endowed Chair in Gynecological Oncology at CPMC in San Francisco.

Yes, she is at once highly recognizable and very elusive.

“I’m an enigma to many people,” said Hale. “I grew up in old-world Europe with very strict grandparents. I fled certain death in Yugoslavia, so I think differently. I was a child of war. I love to have a great social life, out every night, but I also value solitude. I’m really quite shy. I love to be alone.” 

Michael Tilson Thomas is a longtime friend of DH. She is a patron of the San Francisco Symphony.

Michael Tilson Thomas, the conductor and director the San Francisco Symphony, and a longtime close Hale friend, made the following comments to me, recently:

“She is incredibly empathetic. One of my earliest insights about Denise happened after I had a big concert. On Monday I received a call from Denise. She said nice things about the concert, and after a while, I wondered where she was leading.

She said, after a triumphant performance, you have two days off, and on the second day you are wondering is there any point in life and if anyone cares. I am here to tell you that I am here for you, and I do care.”

“With Denise, it’s all big archetypal stuff. In her life themes, it’s Greek drama, it’s fifteenth-century Venice, it’s eighteenth-century England, and it’s fifth-century Rome, how it plays out. She’s at the center.”

Michael Tilson Thomas continued: “One reason we are friends is that I can call her at 3am. I’ll come in from a concert, and we can chat for hours. She’s a sympathetic listener. And she’s not afraid to tell you what you do wrong. For years she’s been telling me I should wear silk dress shoes to conduct in the evening. I’ve resisted. Perhaps one day…”

Being close-close friends of Denise Hale is lots of fun, but also 
totally exhausting. 

Just ask San Francisco chums like designer Alex Chases or Greg Lopez, or Anna Weinberg or favorite dermatologist, Seth Matarasso, or Vanessa Getty.

Ken Fulk celebrated Hale’s birthday with a lavish ball and guests included Billy and Vanessa Getty, San Francisco Symphony’s Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and his wife, Fabiola, along with Nancy and Paul Pelosi, Ann Getty and Jo Shuman Silver, Ron and Barbara George, and OJ and Gary Shansby. For late night entertainment, Hale requested the troupe of actors from the hit transvestite show, ‘Hot Greeks”.

She loves friskiness. 

Denise with Jo Schuman and Ann Getty.

I asked the great Jo Schuman Silver, the producer of ‘Beach Blanket Babylon’ or her insights on Hale. She is Hale’s longest-best friend in San Francisco:

“I met Denise at an I. Magnin fashion show in 1982. We clicked. I’d known her from the LA Times social pages and had always been impressed with her and thought she was fascinating. Denise always stood out, with her beautiful hair, her elegant profile, the couture gowns,” said Schuman.

“I know she’ll be up at all hours, so after a show, I’ll phone her to recap the evening, discuss the social whirl. She is the most loyal friend. No matter what is happening, in a second she will give you the right direction. She’s a fantastic mentor.”

Denise with San Francisco-based jazz singer, Paula West and a performer with The Cockettes.

The Denise Edicts to live (or die) by include the rule that you must never cancel at the last moment, except for death. Cancel, and you will never be invited again.

“It is imperative to arrive at a dinner party on time, and to be interesting and engaging, and never discuss your problems. It's your job to be a scintillating guest,” noted Ken Fulk. “Husbands, wives or partners are not invited unless they are equally engaging. You must look chic, no jeans, and always jackets and evening heels are preferred. No-show and you're off the list for good.”

“I’ve led a privileged life,” Hale noted. “I’ve been incredibly fortunate. But I insist on manners and consideration from everyone.”

To add to the drama of her life story—and the mystery, and perhaps her introspection—Hale was brought up in war-torn Belgrade by her adored grandparents.

“My grandmother, Ana Radosavljevic is responsible for who I am,” she said.

Nelson Mui with Denise 

With first the Nazis and then Communists threatening her family, she escaped in a rowboat as a young girl from the rugged coast of Yugoslavia, with her teenage cousin. A Royal Navy minesweeper (defying official orders) picked up the pair bobbing about in a rowboat in the Adriatic Sea. Hale kept in touch with the captain of the ship, who saved her life, and still keeps his letters in an album.

Soon, she married her first husband, a businessman with interests in the Far East, and lived a life of sparkling diamonds in Rome, with husband number on. Divorced and happily living in a chic Rome apartment in the sixties she was introduced to husband number two, director Vincente Minnelli.

Her love-match with husband number three, Prentis Cobb Hale, lasted more than 27 years.

“Today I’m running a working cattle ranch,” said Hale.

It’s privacy Hale enjoys the most, beyond padlocked gates.

“I have complete silence here,” she said. “I walk beneath the full moon and gaze at the stars at midnight in my garden. I crave the privacy. I found nirvana at the ranch,” said Hale. “Once I ‘m up there, I never want to leave. But it is all in the hands of fate. I have only two fears in life—earthquakes and snakes. I am not afraid of anyone. Whatever is meant to be, will be…”

Happy Birthday, Dear Denise!

Frisky business: Denise with Daniel Diaz. 

All ranch photography by Lisa Romerein, Used with permission.

David Downton in London sketched the elegant new portraits of Denise. David is the artist of the portraits that appear on PBS in honor of Hale, who is a staunch supporter of Masterpiece on PBS and especially ‘Downton Abbey’. Presented here exclusively and with permission of the artist.

Exclusive social photography by Drew Altizer,

Other images are from Denise Hale’s private albums are used here with express permission.

All photography and art are used here with the express permission of the copyright holders. I am very grateful.


Windlost said...

Happy birthday Denise! What a striking woman and a fascinating life. I scanned your article but have book-marked to read later. A beautiful tribute Diane.

xo Terri

Reggie Darling said...

What a lovely, heart-felt love letter you have written to your dear friend and remarkable woman, Denise Hale. She sounds like a dynamo, and lots of fun, which to my mind is a potent combination, indeed! Bravo Dianne and Denise, both! Reggie

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Terri-

Thank you! I wonder if you read the rest on your exercise bike or at work. Either way…it was for friskiness and fun, really.
Denise is a fantastically multi-layered person, with such diverse interests and wide-ranging friends. We all love her a lot, and she is marvelous to write about as well.
take good care…and be sure to plan travel--DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Reggie-

I'd love to see you writing a profile…I know you would make it vivid and lively and a little frisky as well.
Denise is fantastic two write about--as she has so many layers and layers.
Everywhere she goes (or whoever I am with her…wherever) someone will come over to the table to say hello.
In Paris, we were having a quiet lunch at Le Voltaire…and eventually an older and very distinguished gentleman came over to pay homage…they talked as if they had seen each other the day before…I asked Denise who is was (I usually know, but…)…and she said Prince Michael of Greece (I believe he is a cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh…) They had last seen each other thirty years ago…and so it goes. Pierre Bergé came to Sa Francisco…and had to see her. Givenchy sends her custom CDs…All much more than I could fit into the story. I'm happy you enjoyed it…and liked the frisky part of it…fondest to you, DIANE

La Contessa said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MRS.HALE.Thank You for all you have done for the city.I adore the fact you have a cattle ranch………I have always wanted a COW!SInce, I was a small thing……….does not look like it will happen but I can still DREAM!I went to COVERDALE once years ago to a CAMP.I believe I was 7 years old.Cried every night!Missed Home.Too young to be away…….although we did get to sleep in covered wagons!Why I am telling YOU this I have no idea just slipped out!Great POST DIANE on a BEAUTIFUL WOMAN!THANK YOU!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


I received so many messages…emails, comments, FB comments, and posts and reposts, and shares…Denise has lots of admirers.

I rec'd the following from my dear reader, Nora:

What a treat! Thank you. I wish you could publish photos of her all green SF apartment. It was glorious. I don't quite remember the original publication date, possibly early eighties in the now-defunct Connoisseur Magazine. ??? I had saved the magazine for years.
Again, she is a favorite and I thank you for the lovely article!
Best regards from Miami, Nora.

Sent from my iPad
Nora Agudo

Nora, thank you. Yes…her apartment was shown in Vogue many years ago…and it is beautiful. I was not able to find those original images…the glorious dining room with silver cranes and the silk velvet walls. I will keep looking. If you find them please let me know. best DIANE

Leonard said...

Although I don't run in the same social circles, I've admired Ms. Hale from the sidelines for years. Imagine my please, while volunteering at the SF Fall Antiques Show in 2011, Ms. Hale came to pick up vendors. Being another bold Aries, I walked up and introduced myself as she grasped my hand! I'll treasure that day forever!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Leonard-

Thank you.

I'm so happy you met her…she is always lovely to new friends…and I'm sure for her also it was a delight meeting you. best DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends-

I've heard from readers from around the world--and everyone has enjoyed this story.

I had a wonderful message from my longtime friend OLGA BYCHEK a fantastic guide…more like a professor, a philosopher, a superb professional--who was my guide and later Denise's guide in ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA:

Thank you very much for such a brilliant article,Diane!!! I met Denise 8 years ago and not for a long time, but still remember my feelings of this lady as a quiet expert of refined taste. Please give her my best wishes of the very many happy returns of her birthday!
Love to both of you from sunny Tenerife

Отправлено с iPhone

thank you, dear Olga...

Karena said...

Dear Diane,
You are the absolute best at bringing your friends brilliant lives to us. I applaud Denise Hale, her panache, her style, her accomplishments. Is there possibly a book in the works?

The Arts by Karena

columnist said...

Without wishing to diminish Mrs Hale's 39th (?) birthday celebration, I do like those Burmese silvered pagodas on her dining table! Someone frequently photographed with a champagne flute in their hand sounds like the perfect party companion!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...


YES, I admire her life (starting as a refugee in Italy), and then her gatherings of friends, her social rules. She can be judged by the friends she has kept--for forty or fifty years or more. I've met some of her longtime friends--Italian designers and Paris perfume company founders and business people and priests (yes) and ballet dancers and unknowns. She is endlessly interesting and vital. DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Columnist-

I had such fun selecting all the images--and chose some (PETER MARINO IN BLACK LEATHER) to surprise and shock. She first knew Marino when he wore pink cashmere and was launching his design career.
I went to the Bagan silversmith factory where they make these pagodas. They are all handmade. I had planned to select some for her--and soon found that it would take hours to find the right ones, the best ones, the matching pieces, the perfect designs and artful craft. I did not want to return with a wonky pagoda. Hers are exquisite on the table. She has Tiffany silver pieces on her dining table in the city.
Lovely to hear from you. I hope all is well in your corner of the world. best DIANE

Chronica Domus said...

What an absolute giant of a woman your friend Denise is, and how fortunate to have such a good friend in you (you write very well of her). I really enjoyed this post (thank you). A lady of such difficult and humble beginnings in childhood that truly enjoys the best of living. Fabulous!