French Society Honors Gil Schafer

By Katlean de Monchy

The honoree, Gil Shafer III, and the interior designer Robin Bell. Photo PMC/Getty

Many of the most active Hamptons philanthropists were seen at the French Heritage Society Gala Dinner Dance at the University Club in New York City on November 16th. This year, the non-profit honored award-winning architect Gil Schafer. The author of the bestselling book The Great American House and its follow-up A Place to Call Home, Gil is a member of Architectural Digest’s AD100 and winner of Veranda’s Art of Design Award.

Elizabeth Stribling, Chairman of the Board of the French Heritage Society; Vicky McGloughlin; Denis de Kergorlay, President of the Society, and Margo Langenberg. Photo PMC/Getty

FHS Chairman Elizabeth Stribling opened the evening by asking the question that was on everybodys mind“Why is Gil being honored by French Heritage Society? He’s not French. He doesn’t even have an office in France. The answer is, just as French Heritage Society does, he celebrates the past to inspire today. Gil makes houses that look old. In fact, you would never know, there’s not a clue that they’re not 200 years old, but they’ve got lots of modern amenities in them and everything looks superb. Gil builds houses that celebrate classical architecture of the past to bridge the years to today. Just as French Heritage Society restores the beauty of the past to inspire us today.”

Bettina Bennett, Dr. Penny Grant, Liz McDermott. Photo PMC/Getty

“Travel is so important for expanding our understanding of the world around us,” said Schafer. “For an architect it’s an essential component of the creative process. Looking and learning about the heritage of the places we visit makes us more able to create meaningful places back home where we live and work. That has certainly been true for me. Although my projects don’t have an overtly French flavor to them, they’re nevertheless the product of studying the scale and details, the landscape and character, of all the places I’ve visited in France and elsewhere over the last 50 years.

“This is why I’m so thrilled to support this organization. Not only do they pride themselves on working to preserve the heritage of the exceptional places in France and its culture, but they also bring American students to those places, to learn from them and be inspired by them, just as I have been.”

Allison Baroness Von Arnim, Melody Clarke, Jean Shafiroff. Photo PMC/Getty

According to FHS Executive Director Jennifer Herlein, “French Heritage Society was able to award nearly $500,000 to 16 restoration projects in France, two restoration projects in the United States, and one cultural project; support 19 dynamic student internship opportunities for the next generation of preservationists at esteemed cultural institutions on both sides of the Atlantic; and foster cultural exchange through more than 40 programs and events!”

Ruth Miller, Sharon Bush, Katlean de Monchy. Photo Annie Watt Agency

Board Member CeCe Black thanked FHS President Denis de Kergorlay and Deputy Consul General of France in New York Damien Laban, as well as fellow Gala Chairs Liz McDermott Barnes, Michael Kovner, Jean Doyen de Montaillou, Jean Shafiroff, and Ann Van Ness. Shafiroff wore a pink sequined Carolina Herrera ball gown, Nisha Pastreich, wore black and white silk Zang Toi with pearl details, and Barbara Tober wore Oscar de la Renta, as the three danced the night away to music by the Alex Donner Orchestra.

Ken and Maria Fishel. Photo PMC/Getty

They were joined by guests including FHS Board Members Yann Coatanlem, Timothy Corrigan, Katlean de Monchy, Christian Draz, Rosann Gutman, Judy McLaren, Jean Doyen de Montaillou, George P. Sape, and Jacqueline Wilson, as well as Lea Attalla and Timothy Mara, Lee Black, Sharon Bush, Geoffrey Bradfield, Liliana Cavendish, Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane, Maria and Kenneth Fishel, Meera Gandhi, Penny Grant, Marifé Hernandez and Joel Bell, Brenda and Jim Howard, Lisa Hunt and Malcolm McCulloch, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Margo Langenberg, Kamie Lightburn, Vanessa Noel, Danielle Rollins and Tom D’Agostino, Jr., Daisy Soros, William Steel and Chris Drake, William Van Ness, Stephen Whyte and Rebecca Ralston and many more. It was just one of many events celebrated each year.