The Valley Gala: Inspired by Old New York Society & Influential Women

This weekend is the second annual Valley Gala! Guests are going to walk into a transformed lounge/bar area at Hat City Kitchen. Flowing champagne and remixed house cocktails. Gourmet food tastings including parmesan crusted shrimp. Get your photo taken by professional event photographers, Patrick Hilaire Photography and Gregory Burrus.

Ever since I was in high school I was interested in throwing a party like this. A culmination of many of my interests through the year. I used to be a huge fan of the Gossip Girl book series (which is way better than the tv show by the way, although I am a fan), and I fell in love with the extravagance of the parties. They were described as decadent, and well designed.

My favorite part was everyone was dressed very well, and looked forward to being seen by New York elite. Hosting and attending these many social events were a part of their lifestyle. These social gatherings is where you see your circle of friends, wear your finest clothes and mingle. I enjoyed the exclusivity and the idea that these parties is where to be seen.

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A lot of the functions the rich families of New York City (gallery openings, brunches, cocktail parties, fundraiser, etc.)  would attend and host in the series were social conventions from the early 1800’s.

I started the event in 2015 as a way to bring in my 25th birthday. I saw how my friends and colleagues in the Valley showed up and looked nicer than I have ever seen them look. Now, The Valley Gala is meant to be that event every year where the “who’s who” in this community to come together. There are not many events in the Valley Arts District that possess the type of trendiness, youth infused, glamour and anticipation.

The event was also inspired by research I was doing for my novel (preparing for NaNoWriMo). Not to reveal too much but I did a lot of reading about social scenes, influential women or socialites like, The Astors. In short, they were one of the most prominent New York families in the 1800 and 1900’s. Caroline Astor, the archetype for the socialite who guarded New York City’s elite society with an iron fist. She inspired Edith Warton’s Age of Innocence. She would throw lavish parties at her estates and controlled the infamous “400 list”. This was a guest list she controlled each person, selected carefully based on breeding and prestige. Being on the 400 List. made that pretty much solidified if you were relevant. The list was everything, and Caroline Astor was ruthless.

When talking about Caroline Astor I should probably refer to her as the “Mrs. Astor”. Her power and influence in society was so heavy she never needed to say anything more, even though there were other wives of Astor men living in New York. Even postage knew to deliver to her address with parcels addressed simply as Mrs. Astor. She famously feuded with her brother and sister-in-law about the title “Mrs. Astor” leading to the construction of the Waldorf-Astoria. To put into perspective of how much influence the Astor family had, think of all the sites in New York City with their namesake, Astor (Astor Place, Astoria, Queens, and many more).

I began to dig deeper into the socialite. Power, influence and the ability to change ways of life (big and small). I came across socialites:

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  • Gloria Gunniess who in addition to marrying well she served as a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar and made their International Best Dressed Hall of Fame.
  • Eleanor Lambert who founded the international best dressed list and the Council of Fashion Designers in America. It is even said that her influence in the fashion industry alone increased money coming to the United States
  • Alva Belmont Vanderbilt who famously feuded the Mrs. Astor for acknowledgment into new york society. The Vanderbilt family was just as wealthy as the Astors but was snubbed and considered “new money”. She threw a party so lavish and well attended for her birthday that Mrs. Astor had no choice but accept her. Other instances like this led to the formation of the Metropolitan Opera House, now a staple in what is now old new york society.

This comes with money but I am more inspired by the influence and long lasted effect a strong, stylish woman can have on society. Fueled by their personality, character and orders they believed in. These types of fun facts give me life. And excite me about possibilities of history-making in the still developing Valley Arts District.

As mentioned in the press release for the Valley Gala, I am even more inspired by The Met Ball. It is more modern when you think about the elite. Now instead of old New York families, now more celebrities, actors, fashion industry insiders, models, etc. The Met Ball has been going on since 1946 as a fundraiser for the Met. The brain child of another influential woman, Eleanor Lambert. It grew organically through the times and to where it is now when Anna Wintour signed off in 1995.

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She transformed Vogue magazine once she became Editor-in-chief and this event is one Anna Wintour took by storm. The gala is the opening of the annual fashion/costume exhibit at the Met. Anna’s influence on the event has raised over $500 million dollars and they say the star power at this event rivals Vanity Fair’s Oscar Party. The exhibit has since been renamed, Anna Wintour’s Costume Center, complete with a ceremony led by Michelle Obama.

In similar Mrs. Astor fashion, the Met Gala is often referred to as Anna Wintour’s party. She hand picks the guest list and it is even rumored that she has to approve of your attire and guests. The party is so buzzed about, guests prepare their looks months in advance once the annual theme is announced.

All in all when I think about the Gala in let’s say, ten years I hope that tickets sell out so fast, months in advance. I also want to start selling tables at a group price for when my friends become rich and famous. (shout out goes to the Era Artist Collective). And since all Masconsumption events have always been a fundraiser for art and community, I want to raise tens of thousands of dollars towards these efforts in the Valley Arts District. I am looking forward to seeing you all Sunday!

The Valley Gala, now in it’s second year was inspired by staple event in the New York City and Hollywood fashion and social scene, The Met Ball. The Valley Gala is the social event of the year where the Valley Arts District community can step out, dress up, party and come together. The event is open to the entire community, and to all ages.

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