Thursday, October 2, 2014
By: Liz Smith
WE ARE ALWAYS WRITING ABOUT OUR friend and New York City’s pal, the incredible Bette Midler. And this week I had the pleasure of joining Bette and her Restoration Project up at 119th Street next to Public School 96 where we dedicated a new garden next to the school in the name of the late Geraldine Stutz, once the fabled president of Henri Bendel.
Ms. Stutz was once a big fashion figure of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s! She launched the career of, among others, Andy Warhol. (She had him draw shoes for I. Miller when she was VP there.) She was also instrumental in the careers of Perry Ellis, Mary McFadden, Sonia Rykiel, Stephen Burrows, Jean Muir and Ralph Lauren and she imported many British fashion-making ideas to the U.S. The movie director Joel Schumacher once did her stunning windows on 57th Street, while he was studying at Parsons The New School for Design.
Gerry also was a social mover and shaker in her country home near Kent, Connecticut, and it was through Gerry that I met the then rising cognoscenti of the Ahmet and Mica Ertegun. They entertained the likes of Bette Midler and Mick Jagger, just to name two.
Gerry helped put my friend Lee Bailey on the map when he was offering homemaking and cooking of a different stripe, long before the advent of Martha Stewart. Gerry was married for a number of years to the British artist David Gibbs and it is one of David’s daughters, Emma Turner of London, who has offered a portion of Gerry’s estate to help Bette’s Restoration Project create a more livable NYC.
I spoke to a goodly crowd about memories of Geraldine Stutz and everybody was, of course, waiting for Bette to get up there onstage. She did. Then, with contributions from Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, we all finally managed to cut the green swag of a ribbon opening the Stutz Garden, called La Casita. Through the fence, the children of PS 96 watched us with interest as we left things better than it all was before. This is a small space with a beautiful small garden that makes everything on 119th Street look better.
Bette will next be doing her Hulaween night on October 31 at the Waldorf. This night itself is dazzling and Bette hopes you’ll put on your ghoulish best and attend. (For tickets, call 914-579-1000, or email nyrpevents(at)buckleyhallevents.com.)
After this, I guess Bette Midler will go on her world tour and the rest of us can relax just a little bit from improving New York City. But not for long. This project never rests.