HAIL TO THE FIRST WIFE: Barneys New York has gotten swept up in election fever. On Tuesday afternoon, workers were hanging portraits of the wives of 43 American presidents, painted by the artist Laurie Munn. The eyes may be the window to the soul, but for Munn, the hairstyle captured the essence of first ladies from Martha Washington to Laura Bush. Jacqueline Kennedy’s trademark sun-streaked bob and soft features were treated with reverence, while Hillary Rodham Clinton’s shoulder-length hair with bangs reflects her style-challenged early days in the White House. For the window installation, Munn also painted first lady hopefuls Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain. In the portrait, Obama is smiling, while McCain is all hard angles and appears to be laughing shrilly. Could the depictions have been influenced by Barneys creative director Simon Doonan? When asked recently whom he was supporting, Doonan said, “Apart from being the right candidate, [Barack] Obama looks better in a suit, which can only be a good thing.”
170 YEARS OF TIFFANY: Before hitting the myriad events Monday night, including the Whitney Museum gala, Lighthouse International’s Lightyears benefit and the party for Hubertus von Hohenlohe at Bergdorf Goodman, the social set stopped by the Park Avenue Armory to fete Tiffany & Co.’s John Loring. Jamee Gregory, Nina Griscom and Amy Fine Collins gathered in the building’s Louis Comfort Tiffany room to browse Loring’s latest tome, “Tiffany Style: 170 Years of Design.” And though uniformed waiters were offering trays of pigs-in-a-blanket rather than caviar, Loring insisted the snacks were not a sign of hard times. “That’s just American folklore,” he said.
TIME WELL SPENT: Architect Richard Meier, author Salman Rushdie and news anchor Charlie Rose will be feted tonight by Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin at the company’s launch party for its new watch, the Quai de l’Ile. The company will celebrate the trio’s achievements in their fields as well as contributions they have made to the Afghanistan World Foundation. One of the major achievements of the foundation is in providing mobile medical units to victims of violence in Afghanistan, especially those who have been harmed by land mines. Since time is of the essence in these situations, it was a natural association for the fabled watchmaker. The watch, which is named after the maison’s founding address in Geneva, was created in collaboration with Swiss designer Richard Pfund and is virtually counterfeit-proof. Grammy Award winner Ne-Yo will perform for the likes of Katie Lee Joel, Susan Sarandon, Kate Bell, Byrdie Bell and Boston Celtic basketball champ Ray Allen, all of whom are expected to attend.
HAUTE CUISINE: Bernard Arnault has a delicious new calling card for his Hôtel Cheval Blanc in the ski resort Courchevel 1850: a restaurant overseen by star chef Yannick Alléno. “It’s a dream place for a new restaurant,” said Alléno of Le 1947, slated to open Dec. 6 for the winter season. Alléno, the Michelin three-star chef who heads the restaurant at the prestigious Paris hotel Meurice, will supervise the 1947 menu and is already working on new dishes, such as a roasted turbot with a light celery cream. Expect lots of local products, like Tomme de Savoie cheese and the famous Jura yellow wine.
OH BABE: Those who have long admired Babe Paley’s personal style will have the chance to get a closer look. Beginning today, Verdura will have over 50 gems once owned by the late socialite on display at its Fifth Avenue salon. For those who would prefer a more lasting memory, the jewelry house will also be selling 12 pieces from Paley’s collection, including a set of yin and yang sea pearl bracelets. The exhibit will run through Nov. 28.
SEX AND THE WESTWOODS: Erotic photographer Ben Westwood clearly did his rabble-rousing mother proud on Tuesday when he led a chain gang of bound-and-gagged models in fetish clothing to London’s House of Commons. Dame Vivienne Westwood’s son (with ex-husband Derek Westwood) was protesting a government bill that would render his work illegal as of Jan. 1. The British government is taking a tougher line on extreme pornography, which will be outlawed when the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2008 comes into force. As of Jan. 1, anyone caught in possession of Westwood’s book of sadomasochistic photographs of women, “F**k Fashion: The Erotic Photography of Ben Westwood” (Erotic Print Society, 2005), could potentially face a three-year jail term. “The government gets away with murder when it comes to legislating about our sexual behavior,” said Westwood, “because we are a straitlaced nation, and far too many of us are embarrassed about talking about sex.”