Of course we’re all complaining about our new, current state of what I like to call ‘muted debauchery,’” mused a late-30-something real estate agent somewhat ironically over cocktails at the Fisher Island Beach Club, which just completed its gorgeous $5 million renovation. “But you know, 2005 to 2007 really was so dysfunctional. With the amount of money I used to spend per year at Prime One Twelve alone I could have bought a brand-new Ford Taurus. And these days, I’m thinking I should have!”
Despite the slump, Miamians—and their many annual parties—are persevering. Generous VIPs (Pamela Anderson, Charlie Crist, Venus Williams, Scottie Pippen, Brett Ratner, Harvey and Roberta Chaplin, Lara Shriftman, Craig Robins, Al and Nancy Malnik) and colorful VUPs (Vince Shlomi, “the ShamWow guy”) alike turned out in droves for the annual InterContinental Make-A-Wish ball, chaired by beloved powerhouse Shareef Malnik, owner of the recently revamped and reopened The Forge. As usual, attorney/benefactor Jim Ferraro snatched up a good chunk of the live auction, including a Ferrari California ($275,000), a trip to Punta Mita, Mexico ($25,000), and a golfing vacation at St. Andrews Links in Scotland ($14,000). Renowned as the most atypical (read: unstuffy and actually fun) black-tie gala of the season, the event attracted revelers who jumped on stage to dance alongside the night’s live performers, Beatlemania Now, before hitting the afterparty and Richie Rich runway show, orchestrated by Michael Capponi, Clif Loftin and Antonio Misuraca.
On a much more intimate front, Barbara Becker hosted one of the merriest birthday soirées anyone could remember for interior designer Sam Robin at her Venetian Islands home. Known for creating beautiful homes for celebrities (Melanie Griffith, Don Johnson, et al.) everywhere from Fisher Island to Monaco, the Chicago native moved to Miami and began designing private jets for the likes of Adnan Khashoggi and Dubai’s Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Although the party’s dress code called for “sunglasses at night” (an homage to Robin herself, known for her trademark after-dark shades), it didn’t last long: Guests including Gingi Beltran, Louis Aguirre, Francesco Caracciolo Di Marano, Greg Robin, Ugo Colombo, Terry and Jason Zucker, Cosima and Axel Preuss-Kühne, Mario Cader-Frech, Robert Wennett, Jonathan and Criselda Breene, Dina Balint, Elsa Benitez, Alejandro Grimaldi and Christina Getty- Maercks and Arin Maercks preferred to witness the evening’s events through a (visually) lucid lens. Miky and Leticia Grendene gifted the birthday girl a multitiered cake, Iran Issa-Khan toasted with the requisite age jokes and Becker set the group off into what can best be described as a wild dancing bender. “Sexagenarians sure don’t party like they used to!” exclaimed a guest, declaring 60 the new 45.
It was hard to fathom that we haven’t partied like it’s 1999 in more than a decade, but Miami’s own Manny Hernandez recently held an exhibition of his most memorable celebrity and social photographs from the South Beach halcyon days of 1990 to 1999 at The Palms Hotel & Spa. Attendees included many of Hernandez’s subjects over the past 20 years, including J.R. and Loren Ridinger, Marvin Ross Friedman and Adrienne bon Haes, Toby and Stephanie Ansin, Erin Newberg, Debbie Ohanian and Juan and Lucrecia Loumiet, who turned out to mingle and reminisce over images of Gianni and Donatella Versace at the opening of their boutique on Eighth and Washington Avenue in 1993; Christy Turlington being photographed on the beach by Herb Ritts in 1996; Liza Minnelli leaving the Jackie Gleason Theater in 1997; and Hugh Hefner on his bed at the Delano, circa 1998. “That decade was epic. Back then it was still candid, and you didn’t have all the planned, orchestrated shots you have today,” says Hernandez. “But trust me when I say there are still enough characters and things happening around here to keep it interesting until at least 2099.”
TOP LEFT IMAGE: Scottie and Larsa Pippen. RIGHT: Lisa Cortes and Leticia Grendene at Sam Robin's birthday party. BOTTOM: MannyHernandez, Adrienne bon Haes and Marvin Ross Friedman at Hernandez's reception.