November 9, 2023
Out With Dr. Bill - Season's Shift: Savoring the Late October Standouts
Dr. William Kapfer READ TIME: 14 MIN.
As the calendar page turns, ushering us into November, it's hard to believe how quickly the time has flown. Amidst the hustle of day-to-day life, I realize I haven't yet had the chance to divulge the details of the many inspiring events that filled the latter part of October. It was a sequence of days that peaked in a melody of consequential experiences, where fashion intertwined with philanthropy, and music harmonized with minority business development.
Suffice it to say, October concluded on a resounding high note, leaving behind a trail of memories and milestones worth recounting.
Legacy & Luminescence: The Plaza Hosts Fashion's Celebrated Evening
The Plaza Hotel in New York City cast a spell as the venue for the 39th Annual FGI Night of Stars Gala and Awards Ceremony, celebrated by Fashion Group International. Alongside my partner, Eric Baker, I was honored to be part of this significant celebration that pays homage to the essence of fashion, beauty, arts, and culture. My deepest appreciation goes to Kimberly Carney, the founder and CEO of FashWire and GlossWire, for hosting us to the historic event with such grace.
Kimberly, as a board member of FGI, and in partnership with FGI President and CEO Maryanne Grisz, ensured the evening was a resounding success for all attendees.
The gala was a poignant reunion, reconnecting me with long-time friends like Pamela Fiori, former editor-in-chief of Town & Country. Pamela was a guiding force in my doctoral dissertation and has remained a cherished friend for over 30 years. Her presence at the event rekindled a wealth of fond memories and showcased the enduring connections that shape the fashion industry's legacy.
I also had the pleasure of reuniting with Fern Mallis, the visionary behind New York Fashion Week, whose innovations have transformed the industry.
Our initial encounter was during my tenure at Harper's Bazaar, and our relationship deepened when I joined American Express Publishing's Travel + Leisure magazine, located right next to Bryant Park and the "tents" of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. This proximity afforded me a more immersive Fashion Week experience, which was often enhanced by Fern's generous invitations to front-row seats.
Reconnecting with Whoopi Goldberg was a highlight of the evening, stirring up fond memories from nearly three decades ago when we worked together on "Boys on the Side."
In the film, Whoopi starred alongside Mary-Louise Parker and Drew Barrymore as three women from different walks of life who set out on a life-changing cross-country road trip. Whoopi's portrayal of Jane, a resolute lesbian lounge singer searching for a fresh start, was a pivotal part of the film's heartfelt narrative.
Our conversation was sprinkled with laughter and touching moments, including the bittersweet memories of losing our brothers too soon, which added depth to the evening and to the recognition of her American Icon Award.
The event was more than a dazzling spectacle; it was a testament to FGI's pivotal role in nurturing the future talents of fashion. It celebrated innovation, honoring luminaries such as four-time Grammy Award winner Marc Anthony for his humanitarian endeavors, and Andrew Bolton, whose stewardship at The Costume Institute continues to be a source of inspiration.
The vibrant atmosphere of the awards ceremony within The Plaza Hotel underscored FGI's commitment to fostering the next generation of the industry, making the night an illustrious chapter in the story of fashion.
As Eric and I were heading out, we unexpectedly encountered Marc Anthony and his stunning wife, Nadia Ferreira. Marc, our former upstairs neighbor from our first New York apartment in Midtown, showed genuine enthusiasm when I mentioned his philanthropic work with The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Established in January 2012, the foundation has been steadfast in its commitment to supporting orphaned and at-risk children across Latin America. Engaging with the couple and witnessing their shared passion for this charitable cause was truly inspiring. The encounter served as a poignant reminder of the powerful impact that comes with generosity, highlighting the importance of sharing one's blessings with those in need.
Advocacy in Action: Reflecting on the Annual SAGE Awards & Gala
On that memorable Monday, October 16th, the hustle of New York's financial district quieted for a moment to honor the work of SAGE at their annual Awards & Gala at Cipriani Wall Street. It was an evening that focused on heart over (Bill, what is "heart over?") luxury, shining a spotlight on the vibrant community and thanking the gracious supporters whose generosity fuels SAGE's essential advocacy and services.
It was also a key fundraising event, where the warmth and open heartedness of those present gathered additional funds to uphold the dignity and respect of LGBTQ+ elders.
I felt a warm sense of belonging as I reconnected with friends, some whose laughter has been a comfort through the years, and others whose stories were just beginning to weave into mine.
The night was brimming with joy, especially as we celebrated New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who received the inaugural John Wright Public Service Award, presented by Council Member Crystal Hudson.
Navigating the crowd, I was enveloped in an unmistakable sense of fellowship that clearly grows richer with age and wisdom.
Surrounded by friends, I reveled in the laughter that has long been a source of solace, while eagerly embracing the fresh narratives beginning to intertwine with my own.
The evening radiated with jubilance, peaking as we celebrated the award winners, particularly New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. She received the inaugural John Wright Public Service Award from Council Member Crystal Hudson, a moment that embodied the true essence of maturity and wisdom, and paid homage to those dedicating their seasoned insight to our community's service.
The genuine spirit of service emanated from all the distinguished guests, especially my friend Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright from Assembly District 76. Her palpable commitment to uplifting the underserved is demonstrated time and again through her support of various fundraisers and non-profit events.
She has even visited our Fire Island beach house in the past to support a Human Rights Campaign event, thereby affirming her solidarity with the nation's leading LGBTQ+ civil rights organization.
Gaiety filled the hall (double entendre intentional), thanks to Ross Mathews, whose wit and humor sparked a moment of delightful confusion as he introduced his husband – not by his real name, but playfully as "my husband, Ted Cruz."
Later, Ross and I indulged in a bit of nostalgic amusement as we reminisced about our shared moment on the red carpet with Dame Elizabeth Taylor, an experience further enhanced by the presence of Thea Gill from "Queer as Folk" as my date for the evening.
The night's crescendo was a riveting performance from "Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical," with Anthony Wayne's portrayal of Sylvester capturing the audience, and a captivating act from the House of Crotona. It was the perfect end to an evening that embodied the enduring spirit and heart of the LGBTQ+ community–a community that knows how to celebrate life, love, and the genuine connections that bring us all together.
Rex Reed's 'Sentimental Journey' Shines at 34th Annual Cabaret Convention
On the evening of October 18th, Eric and I were treated to a truly spectacular show, and it was none other than our dear friend Rex Reed who played the role of the masterful host.
This extraordinary event was no less than the 34th Annual Cabaret Convention, a celebration organized by The Mabel Mercer Foundation, which transported us into a world of enchantment.
The grandeur of the occasion unfolded at New York City's Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater, a venue that exuded elegance and sophistication, much like the very essence of the Great American Songbook and the art of cabaret performance it celebrated.
Rex, with his show, "Sentimental Journey: A Tribute to Doris Day," was undoubtedly the crowning jewel of the Convention. As the curtain rose, our excitement reached its zenith, and we were privileged to bask in the brilliance of this musical masterpiece. Rex had artfully gathered a constellation of gifted entertainers, including Tedd Firth, the maestro at the Steinway, and a stellar lineup that featured Barbara Brussell, Maud Hixson, Nicolas King, Heather Mac Rae, Marilyn Maye, Karen Oberlin, Linda Purl, Sandy Stewart, Tom Wopat, and our dear friend Seth Sikes, who made a remarkable Cabaret Convention debut!
The show we witnessed from our seats was truly seamless, expertly weaving together the tapestry of Doris Day's remarkable life. Each note and narrative seamlessly built upon the next, crafting a beautiful and poignant story that unfolded before our eyes.
However, I had the privilege of gaining a unique perspective by sitting in Rex's home office just a month earlier, witnessing the maestro in action. There, I had the opportunity to see the Herculean Effort Rex poured into curating this unforgettable show.
I observed the meticulous coordination of talent and the thoughtful matching of performers to songs, ones that Rex personally believed would accentuate their unique talents. It was a labor of love, and the countless hours he spent sifting through films and music provided just a glimpse of the dedication that went into creating this spectacular evening.
The Mabel Mercer Foundation, a non-profit organization with a legacy dating back to 1985, stands as a beacon for preserving and promoting the intimate art of cabaret performance and the treasured repertoire of the Great Songbook.
Their unwavering commitment to nurturing talent, supporting music education, and hosting exceptional events like the New York Cabaret Convention is truly laudable.
This night will forever be etched in our hearts, a tapestry of music, camaraderie, and cherished memories. We feel immensely grateful to have been part of such a transcendent experience.
51st NMSDC Conference: Empowering Minority Business
As the final days of the month slipped away, I found myself on an Amtrak train, bound for Baltimore and the event I had been eagerly anticipating: the 51st Annual Conference & Exchange and MBDA National Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week.
This year's conference, themed "Close the Equity Gap," resonated with my personal and professional goals, emphasizing the crucial work ahead for all of us committed to this cause.
The conference, hosted by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), stands as the national pinnacle of conversations and strategies around minority supplier development.
Since 1972, the NMSDC has been a beacon of progress, championing economic equity for communities of color. By fostering enduring partnerships between minority-owned businesses and major corporations, they have spearheaded an essential movement towards inclusivity and prosperity. The lineup of speakers at this year's gathering lived up to the ambitious theme.
Donald R. Cravins, Jr., the Under Secretary of Commerce for Minority Business Development at the MBDA, shared invaluable insights that reflected the spirit of our shared mission. Isabella Casillas Guzman and Jessica Cavazos from the U.S. Small Business Administration left us enriched with their knowledge and perspective, marking indelible highlights of the conference.
And of course, there was Pete Buttigieg, the 19th U.S. Secretary of Transportation, whose thought-provoking insights on transportation injected both inspiration and urgency into our dialogue. His leadership and steadfast commitment to "closing the equity gap" in his sector set a powerful example for us all.
A deeply personal moment for me was spending time with Pete Buttigieg, "Mayor Pete" to those of us who have long admired his dedication to equality. His enduring message about embracing one's uniqueness has been a source of inspiration for me. It was a profound reminder that differences should be celebrated as strengths, a sentiment that aligns with our conference theme of closing the equity gap.
Beyond the formal agenda, the conference provided a priceless opportunity to engage with like-minded friends and colleagues.
Indeed, we are a community brought together by our shared passion for minority business development and a collective dedication to narrowing the racial equity gap. These encounters were not just professionally rewarding; they added a personal richness to my experience, reinforcing our collective commitment to economic equity for all.
A Season of Splendor: October's Tapestry Ties Together Fashion, Advocacy, and Empowerment
As the vibrant hues of October give way to November's introspective tones, I find myself reflecting on a season that was as rich in color as it was in experience. It was a month where the glitz of fashion's elite at The Plaza Hotel intersected with heartfelt advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, and where the timeless allure of cabaret reminded us of the power of classic artistry.
Capping it all, the NMSDC Conference's mission to "Close the Equity Gap" underscored the enduring need for inclusive growth and opportunity–a call to action that resonates beyond the conference halls.
These narratives, interlaced, create a mosaic of progress and celebration, of milestones marked and journeys begun. As we step into the crisp embrace of November, we carry with us the warmth of October's lessons and triumphs, holding fast to the conviction that every season has its unique standouts–and the true beauty lies in savoring each one.