In The Magazine

AVENUE: The 2000s

by AVENUE Magazine Photographed by Olivia Palermo== CALVIN KLEIN COLLECTION Spring 2007 AFTERPARTY in honor of Francisco Costa== 7 World Trade Center, NYC== September 14, 2006== ©Patrick McMullan== Photo- Joe Schildhorn/ ==
Friday, October 30, 2015

The 2000s heralded the surge of the socialite as bona fide celebrity. My then sister-in-law Tinsley Mortimer ruled the roost for most of the decade, smiling perfectly on magazine covers and having her signature arm on hip–legs crossed red carpet pose copied by younger upstarts like Olivia Palermo, who was first christened an “It Girl” by moi in the pages of AVENUE. Tinsley toiled tirelessly at being a savvy socialite: hawking her handbag line for Samantha Thavasa, being seen at the right benefits (New Yorkers for Children, Save Venice, etc.) and playing nice with the press. Her pack of pretties included Fabiola Beracasa, Zani Gugelmann, Olivia Chantecaille, Amanda Hearst, Byrdie Bell and a wildcard or two like Genevieve Jones, who arrived in New York from the south with a mysterious past to become a fashion designer darling overnight.

A socialite’s worth was calculated by their picture count on society photographer Patrick McMullan’s site. It was an unspoken rule that if Patrick didn’t photograph you at a party, it was like you weren’t even there. And party hard was the name of the game: store openings (not yet seen as so taboo) to black tie benefits to late nights at Amy Sacco’s Bungalow 8 were the norm at least five days a weeka solid work week for any socialite worth her J. Mendel fur. Unlike society leaders like the discreet Amanda Burden or decorator Celerie Kemble, the new crew was determined to be seen as much as possible. All press was good press for these girls.

Then the party came crashing down. The launch of an anonymous website called Socialite Rank, which ranked social girls as if they were basketball players, turned the pretty girls ugly fast. And due to my close association with Tinsley, I was accused of being behind the site by everyone from the New York Post to the New York Observer to Radar Online, which all treated the snarky site as if it were actual celebrity news. My friend, writer Derek Blasberg, was also thought to be Mr. Socialite Rank, and Lauren Santo Domingo, a regular on the site, was so outraged that she allegedly hired a private investigator to hack away and uncover the culprits.

But it was me who finally ousted the duo behind SR: Russians Valentine and Olga Rei in my AVENUE article not so subtly titled “The Talented Mr. and Mrs. Rei.” The Reis later ignored my emails (sniff) and granted an exclusive interview to New York magazine, which mainly focused on a reported feud between Tinsley and Olivia Palermo that read like an All About Eve set at the Boom Boom Room. Then, like a Wall Street crash, Socialite Rank went belly-up and busted up the party. Tinsley did one season of a reality show for the CW called High Society, Olivia Palermo became an international style star, and the rest of the girls had babies.

Society spins in cycles, and soon there were new girls hungry to grab the throne. My first cover when I was editor of AVENUE was Hannah Bronfman, whom I dubbed the next It Girl under the headline “YOUTHQUAKE.” Now Hannah boasts a gazillion Instagram followers (the new currency of social prominence and fame) and starred in Banana Republic ads. So stay tuned to the pages of AVENUEwe know how to pick ’em.

Peter Davis,

Former editor-in-chief of AVENUE

Photos by ©Patrick McMullan


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