Memo Pad: UJA Honors Darcy Miller Nussbaum… Jumping On the Gaga Bandwagon…

The UJA-Federation of New York honored Omnimedia's Darcy Miller Nussbaum and Jessica Seinfeld at its first Women of Influence luncheon.

UJA HONORS: On Thursday, a group of mostly women were at 583 Park Avenue for the UJA-Federation of New York’s first Women of Influence luncheon. The event honored Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’s Darcy Miller Nussbaum, Lincoln Center’s Stephanie Winston Wolkoff and Jessica Seinfeld, who is behind the Baby Buggy charity. Robert Verdi, who moderated a panel talk with the trio, described himself as a “Schnorrer” — a joke much appreciated by this crowd. “The first thing I thought was, ‘What was going to happen to these flowers?’” he said, referencing a particularly Jewish wedding tradition. “You can take the arrangement from table 10,” Miller Nussbaum retorted. Winston Wolkoff and Seinfeld talked about their personal inspirations and drive to juggle family life, work and philanthropy. Dylan Lauren, Bette-Ann Gwathmey, Sarah Easley, Beth Buccini, Reem Acra, Kate Spade, Yildiz Blackstone, Sharon Coplan Hurowitz and Martha Stewart were among those at the lunch. Miller Nussbaum recalled how she got her start in media. “They now tell me Martha had a friend whose daughter’s name was also Darcy,” she said. “When I started working there, she saw me and said, ‘This is not the right Darcy.’”

— Marc Karimzadeh

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

JUMPING ON THE GAGA BANDWAGON: Not all Lady Gaga fans, high off the singer’s electro-acid Kool-Aid, have the muscle of a publishing house behind them. When they do, the result is a lot like the June release of “Lady Gaga: Strange and Beautiful,” from Plexus Publishing. The author is Laura Coulman, 29, an editor at the firm and self-described “Little Monster” who is unabashedly subjective. She calls The Guardian’s Kira Cochrane — who, last September, wrote that the singer’s “constant innovation had threatened to drag” — cranky and turns a blind eye when Gaga’s detractors note that those so-called outcast years at Sacred Heart are pure brand-building fiction. “That’s Gaga’s personal experience growing up,” Coulman replies. “You feel everything more intensely as a teenager. I like to think it’s genuine.” She also pointed out that two years before the singer’s controversial meat dress in 2010, the girls on “America’s Next Top Model” hit the catwalk in raw-beef bikinis. So take that, PETA.

As for her hook, the London-based Coulman explained, “There’s already a platter of books on her out there, but I hadn’t come across anything that dealt with her amazing fashion, which is such an important part of who she is. I wanted to give her clothes the attention they deserved.” In that sense she succeeds; the book is a nice photo diary of Gaga’s myriad mad outfits divvied up into themes (e.g. space-age style and gore couture) with an informative chapter on her music videos that breaks down the fashion credits. But don’t expect to learn anything new about Gaga you haven’t read, seen or heard before. Coulman admitted as much, noting the text is cobbled together from published interviews and television appearances. Gaga had zip to do with the book.

“I e-mailed her fan site and never got a reply from her, but she’s a busy lady,” she said.

And the same goes for the numerous collaborators and designers in the singer’s orbit. Giorgio Armani’s two cents, for instance, comes courtesy of a public press statement. And good luck trying to pinpoint the origins of the other quotations. “I started out attributing the quotes,” the author explained, “but found it was interrupting the flow of the book.”

Curious minds will just have to settle for a condensed paragraph of acknowledgments in the back.

— Venessa Lau

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