By Erin Carlson
How do you send off Lois Lehrman? With a big, splashy party, vodka martinis and lots of Champagne.
The longtime Nob Hill Gazette publisher, who stepped down last summer after more than 30 years in charge, held court October 12 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom, where loyal readers from Dede Wilsey to former Mayor Willie Brown celebrated Lehrman’s extraordinary career as a grand dame–some might even say gatekeeper–of San Francisco society.
Lehrman, looking chic as ever in a black velvet jacket and black pants, worked the room, rubbing shoulders with actress Jane Seymour, businessman Paul Pelosi and performer and close friendFranc D’Ambrosio (with his adorable American Cocker Spaniel, Hunter, in tow).
Among the 300 revelers: Power couple Ted and Pamala Deikel; TransPak chairman and do-gooder Arlene Inch; real estate dynamo and man-about-town Joel Goodrich; fashion designers Karen Caldwell and Jake Wall; SF’s former first lady Wendy Paskin; Golden Gate Restaurant Association head Gwyneth Borden; Original Joe’s owners John and Marie Duggan; and Justin Fichelson of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing San Francisco.
Also present? Alexander McQueen. Etro. Oscar de la Renta. Dior. Aquazurra.
Guests noshed upon dim sum, foie gras mousse, Kusshi oysters on the half shell, scallop ceviche and—a personal favorite—French onion soup bites, from a menu created by chef Larry Finn. The dessert bar, decked out with a tower of gold-flecked, vanilla-glazed brioche donuts, fulfilled sugar fixes. In a nod to the shake-loving guest of honor, partygoers sipped miniature chocolate milkshakes at the end of the night.
Meanwhile, musicians from Gatsby Entertainment tickled the ivories on dueling black and white pianos. Ali Grosslight, to whom Lehrman passed the publisher torch, took center stage to say a few kind words about her predecessor before Clint Reilly, the Gazette’s new owner, raved: “Lois has succeeded in a business where many men have failed—and at this moment, when we’re about to elect the first woman president of the United States, it’s appropriate that we salute Lois Lehrman!”
Dapper as ever, Willie Brown then took the mic to bring down the house with a series of well-timed bon mots before presenting Lehrman with an official city proclamation recognizing October 12, 2016 as “Lois Lehrman Day.” He then reminded Reilly that “the magazine has survived because it is not the reading that we’re interested in – it’s the pictures.”
Cue more laughs. (It’s funny because it’s true?) Finally, Lehrman spoke. “I want to tell you, first of all, you’re the best-looking people I’ve seen in a long time,” she gushed, practically speechless.
“Have a martini and have some fun,” she demanded.
Who’s to argue with that?