Maybe it was the pitchers of mojitos or
the canopied launch that took partygoers on tours of the lake,
but the Prospect Park Alliance’s "Summer Soiree" benefit
was like a page out of "The Great Gatsby" - a trip
back in time to a more sophisticated, genteel age with strong
drinks and intoxicating women.
Emma Bloomberg, the mayor’s daughter, and Vogue Fashion News Editor Sally Singer hosted the party-to-remember on Thursday night at the Prospect Park Boathouse.
The youthful attendees - organizers courted the 21-to-35 set - wore colorful summer frocks and straw hats, the better to live up to the benefit committee’s challenge to dress in "park chic."
Singer was resplendent in a vintage, early ’70s Zandra Rhodes dress with daring V-neck. She and her husband, Joseph O’Neill, moved to the south side of the park (read: Flatbush) this year from Manhattan with their three boys.
"It’s lovely for them. They’re in the park every day with school," said Singer. "Prospect Park is our Hamptons, Catskills and Equinox.
"It’s now fashionable for younger people to live in Park Slope and Fort Greene," she said, "especially younger families."
Singer met Bloomberg, one of two mayoral appointees to the Prospect Park Alliance’s board, at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute ball in Manhattan and soon became involved in co-chairing the event for her newly adopted borough.
Bloomberg sported a knee-length, Asian-inspired embroidered jacket by another London-based designer, Alexander McQueen ("a gift from my mom," she explained). Bloomberg said she "jumped at the opportunity" to help with an event that supports the park’s "educational programs and just keeps the park clean and beautiful."
"The committee’s goal was to sell 250 tickets, and we sold 400!" the 24-year-old co-chair said. The success of the night was no doubt partly due to the buzz surrounding its A-list hostesses.
"It was fabulous when the mayor appointed his oldest child to our board, but what is more amazing is that she’s a very terrific person," said Prospect Park Administrator Tupper Thomas. "[Emma’s] smart and very capable, a wonderful board member. Lending her support to this party gave it a cache that was different, although the junior event would have been popular no matter what. But she gave it that extra excitement and glamour.
"She attends all the meetings, and is very up-to-date about what’s going on," said Thomas. "And she’s a big help in many ways just in her own right, not just as the daughter of a great man.
"She actually stayed right to the end, having a great time, and she talked to everybody," she said.
In addition to the event’s co-chairs, New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham’s presence secured the night’s status as a must-attend event for young movers and shakers. (It was featured in the "SundayStyles" section.)
"We extended the event for a whole hour, because it was so packed. It was fabulous!" said Thomas.
After watching the sun set beyond the lullwater, guests mixed and mingled throughout the recently restored beaux-arts style boathouse, which is home to the park’s Audubon Center featuring interactive educational installations.
While the Summer Soiree did hark back to a more elegant age, it was far from stodgy. DJs Mikey Palms, owner of Park Slope’s Southpaw nightclub, and Kear and Ayers spun lively tunes, and the silent auction actually featured tantalizing prizes such as Delman ballet flats.
Thomas, luminous in white linen, confirmed the success of this first junior benefit.
"It was not intended to be a major fundraiser," she explained. "It’s more about getting young people who use the park to take an interest in making a contribution and becoming volunteers." Thomas said the preliminary estimate of the Soiree’s tally was a gross of close to $30,000.
Thomas said that there will now be a junior committee of the Alliance, with members ages 21 to 35, and they will have volunteer and fundraising projects to oversee. But their first order of business, she said, is to come up with a better name.
"We are very interested in having as many people as possible involved. We could start everything from playgroups for young families, to fun runs, events for singles "
Those interested in joining the committee, volunteering or renting the boathouse for special events can call the Prospect Park Alliance at (718) 965-8951.