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A Kips Bay Trifecta

Cocktails with Cornelia, Dinner with David and Ann, and Naughty Nightcaps with Brooke

BY // 09.30.20
photography Bruno, Snap the Picture

Pardon me for jumping immediately to the punchline, but after a long night of parties, the best quote came near the end of the marathon: the effervescent Michelle Nussbaumer begging off with “Darling, I would normally be the first to dance on a table with you, but I’m exhausted from Kips Bay.” What? The queen of a late-night conga line was down for the count? If you haven’t been keeping up with her wildly popular Instagram account (@michellenussbaumer), she was referring to the glorious Moroccan room she designed for the eagerly awaited Kips Bay Decorator Show House Dallas. Nussbaumer’s “Turkish Writer’s Lair,” as she dubbed it, had been a labor of love that after countless weeks of work left her slightly winded.

Apparently, we’ve all been waiting with bated breath to be able to socialize, albeit masked and social distanced. And safely socialize many of us did on that Tuesday night prior to the VIP opening days for Kips Bay. It was a suite of fêtes — three, to be exact, for which I was fortunate enough to be included, but am brave enough to run photographs of only one. First, darling Cornelia Guest had a few friends over for cocktails and dinner at her well-appointed Highland Park home. To celebrate the arrival of so many out-of-towners, she joyfully assembled PR gurus Ellen Niven and Chesie Breen;  the sexy interiors photographer — aka the fascinator —  Douglas Friedman; as well as our dashing local folk: Brad Kelly, beauties Melanie Fowler and Brooke Davenport; designers Cathy Kincaid, Doniphan Moore, and Michelle Nussbaumer (who all designed rooms for Kips Bay); and moi. We longed for the evening to never end as we sipped cocktails and spilled secrets in her parlor among her furry menagerie and stunning Warhols.

Miss Nussbaumer and I quaffed only cocktails, as I had also RSVPed to a dinner co-hosted by Veranda magazine (media sponsor of Kips Bay) and Ann and David Sutherland to celebrate the debut of Kips Bay Decorator Show House Dallas. After my date told me she had no idea of how to “summon Uber,” I secured our chariot, and we made our way to the Sutherlands’ modernist Preston Hollow home. The intimate group of designers and dignitaries in town for the show house chatted, as braised short ribs with jalapeño chimichurri, poblano mashed potatoes and pinto beans were placed before us. It was a sprawling conversation that encompassed trade secrets (“Who did you find locally to do that gorgeous lacquer on the walls of your room?”) and what we were all currently binging on Netflix.

As always, the consensus seemed to be Ozark and Schitt’s Creek. Inevitably, my final question to my dining partners was: “Why did none of you put a television in your room?” This brought unbridled laughter, then comic memories of armoires and massive console televisions of years past.

Elements Table Setting (Photo by Bruno, Snap the Picture)
Elements Table Setting (Photo by Bruno, Snap the Picture)

In the crowd: Nazira Handal with Kips Bay, Veranda associate publisher David Hamilton, Chad Dorsey, Sherry Hayslip, Erin Sander, Mark Cravotta, Shaun Thompson, Tracy Hardenburg, Melissa GerstleMargaret Naeve Parker, Doniphan Moore, Melissa Morgan, Gonzalo Bueno, Michael McCray, Mauricio Lobeira, Corbin See, Ross See, Jean Liu, Kirsten Fitzgibbons, Kelli Ford, Autumn and Marcus Mohon, and Kevin Spearman.

Après dinner, I begged my date to have a final nightcap at Brooke Davenport‘s, as the divine Brooke decided to keep the night going after departing Guest’s home. The consummate hostess (recognized on Salonnière’s 2019 list of best party hosts) had hurried about her living room, lighting candles (she knows when it’s time for subdued lighting) and cueing up some cha-cha-inducing tunes, which still couldn’t get Nussbaumer on top of a table to dance. I draped myself on a Halston-era-like sectional and cozied up to the mastermind behind chic dressing rooms and owner of Clos-etteMelanie Fowler (who had also made her way from the dinner party) and said, “Tell me something naughty and silly.” Unfortunately, what she said is not fit for print, but it was a memory from the early years of her friendship with Douglas Friedman.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m out of practice, and my night of frivolity had me longing for my couch (and a good binge session of mindless fluff, à la Selling Sunset). However, there was no rest for the weary, as the next two days were the opening previews for Kips Bay Decorator Show House Dallas. If you haven’t secured your tickets, go online today and make your reservation. Stunning!

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