NEW YORK — Acoustically, Grand Central Terminal is a strain on even the best hearing, but Monday’s Citymeals-on-Wheels event there honoring three fashion types was a lesson in action, not words.
Jane Elfers, president and chief executive officer of Lord & Taylor, and Felicia Milewicz, beauty director of Glamour magazine, were honored at Metrazur for their support of the group that provides meals to homebound New Yorkers. Ruth Finley, founder and publisher of the Fashion Calendar, also was toasted for her 20 years of service to the charity.
This story first appeared in the May 7, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Many of the 17,000 meals that are served annually go to former garment workers, said Marcia Stein, executive director of Citymeals-on-Wheels, after the presentation. “The people we’re feeding today helped build the apparel industry in the Twenties and Thirties. There was no Thailand [production] then. They’re the people who sat at those sewing machines. They’re very old, terrific and proud of what they’ve done.”
Finley showed some pride, occasionally kicking a leg out from her Chado Ralph Rucci skirt to show off her decorative Wolford legwear. Joe Green, one of her three sons at the festivities, said, “When we were kids, she’d be making eggs for us in the morning and talking to Calvin Klein on the phone. We had no idea how important she is.”
A regular Citymeals-on-Wheels volunteer, the rangy Milewicz, described climbing stairs in four-floor walk-ups and wondering how elderly inhabitants managed. Quoting an unknown writer, she said, “You have not lived a perfect day even though you earned your money unless you have done something for someone else who will never be able to repay you.”
Marylou Luther, Stan Herman, Lavelle Olexa and John Pomerantz were in the crowd. Milewicz’s colleagues also showed up, including Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive, publisher Bill Wackerman and his predecessor, Suzanne Grimes.
The bash centered on giving, as in the charitable kind, but several guests gave Elfers kudos for spiffing up Lord & Taylor. Cleaning up pins from fitting room floors, rearranging display racks and having someone to greet shoppers and stash their umbrellas are among Elfers’ efforts to upgrade the Fifth Avenue flagship, they said over cocktails.
Mark Mendelson, group president of Jones New York, said, “She is a working woman with a husband and a kid. She definitely understands what the customer goes through to shop.”
Accessories maven Elaine Gold said, “What they have done with that store has made me as a vendor proud.”
At the end of the night, even Elfers admitted there had been a lot of conversation about her store. “A number of people said to me tonight, ‘You have me as a customer.’ In this crowd, that’s a great compliment.”
When Elfers admired food critic and Citymeals-on-Wheels founder Gael Greene’s earrings, brooch and Toni Tennille-type hat, Finley — ever the ringleader — piped up, “Maybe you should sell the earrings in your store.”
— Rosemary Feitelberg