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“Will she or won’t she?”

was the burning question on everyone’s lips who passed through the doors of the Starrett-Lehigh Building on Wednesday night bound for Martha Stewart’s ninth floor media headquarters, the site of the Friends of the High Line...

was the burning question on everyone’s lips who passed through the doors of the Starrett-Lehigh Building on Wednesday night bound for Martha Stewart’s ninth floor media headquarters, the site of the Friends of the High Line benefit.

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But Stewart — a huge supporter of the effort to turn the abandoned railway on the city’s far West side into a public space — was a no-show. (Murmurs rose that she’d been spotted in Maine.) Still, she was there in spirit as guests Ed Norton, Danny DeVito, Speaker Gifford Miller, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Fernanda Niven, Celerie Kemble, Jeff Klein and the charity’s co-founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond mingled amidst her magazine’s storyboards, her Web site’s flowcharts, a Mothers’ Day Flower Command Center and Stewart’s Signature Color Center, loaded with earth-toned swatches. One magazine editor stayed behind, hard at work in his office even as dinner was served.

Although Stewart insisted on her own caterers — and usually masterminds her own decor — event planner Bronson Van Wyck had the distinct honor of stepping in this time — or make that, the burden. “Imagining that Martha might lay eyes on your floral centerpieces is enough to give any event planner hives,” said Van Wyck, who in the midst of a nic fit was informed he had to abide by one of Martha’s many office rules: no smoking. (One guest pointed out pantry etiquette rules posted on the Sub-Zero, listing over-heating sauces that could splatter as a no-no.)

“It’s not a good thing,” he sighed, as he headed outside — cigarette in hand.