“Vive la France!” Jamee Gregory triumphantly declared last Thursday night. Ms. Gregory, and an army of uptown sophistiquées stormed Lincoln Center for the New York City Ballet’s Spring Gala. With black-tie battle wear, the decidedly avec-culottes crowd celebrated La Republique, the evening’s theme and leitmotif. “As a Vassar French major it’s my favorite thing.” Ms. Gregory said of the country. “And I’ve loved everything French all my life.”
Indeed, Ms. Gregory’s sunny sentiment seemed to pervade the crowd. Enjoying the balmy spring conditions, several guests enjoyed cocktail hour dehors, sipping French wine and champagne on the balcony of the Lincoln Center promenade. Many took liberties à la francaise, dragging casually on cigarettes and looking down upon the rank-and-file attendees entering downstairs.
Inside, clusters of grapes hung from cross-hatched frames, beneath which a latter-day court was gathering. Natalie Portman, Alexandra Kerry, Carol Mack, Grace Coddington, Catherine Malandrino and Olivia Chantecaille mingled in the fanciful cru.
Like many guests appreciating the festive scene, Waris Ahluwalia warbled admiration for Paris. “It’s a gorgeous city. I’m a huge believer in history and romance— t’s my world. So that’s, like, the center. That and Rome. But we’re not talking about Rome,” he said. Hoping Mr. Ahluwalia would delve deeper into his love of French history (waxing lyrical about left-wing bourgeois and champagne socialists, perhaps), we pressed him.Seeing his friend Jamie Johnson, however, he demurred. “The history of this man is what appeals to me,” he proclaimed collegially.
Mr. Johnson was one of the few non-francophiles in the room. Indeed, it seems he has veritably neglected the country, vis-à-vis his vacation schedule. “I don’t spend a great deal of time in France. I haven’t visited France in at least two years,” he explained.
Still, he has many memories, good and bad, from le pays. “I’ve had a lot of fun in Paris. I’ve had fun in Normandy,” he shared. “I don’t think I’ve had that much fun in the south of France, although I’ve been there at the wrong time of year when it’s a little too crowded.”
The filmmaker’s taste in French cinema, however, is surprisingly canonical. “Favorite French film, I don’t know? 400 Blows probably is up there on the list,” he said.
Follow Elise Knutsen via RSS.