A posh affair typically begins in a finely appointed room—at a discreet, elegant hotel such as the Pierre on Fifth Avenue, say, where Lighthouse International recently held its annual Posh Affair gala and benefit auction. An impressive roster of New York society figures and fashion insiders turned out for the event, which honored Henri Bendel president Chris Fiore, interior designer Robert Couturier, and Lizzie Tisch, who chairs the Friends of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All proceeds went to further the 106-year-old nonprofit’s worldwide mission to fight against vision loss through prevention, education, and treatment.
Inspired by the stylish swans sipping cocktails in the hotel’s Cotillion ballroom, a space festooned with gilded sconces, curtains with gold tassel tiebacks, and crystal chandeliers, we asked fellow revelers to describe the poshest room in their home. For good measure, we also posed the question at two other events: a Friars Club lunch toasting—and roasting—actress Betty White; and a starry cocktail reception at Alice Tully Hall hosted by USA Networks, previewing its upcoming television season.
“I have always wanted a real library,” answered novelist and wine writer Jay McInerney, who is married to philanthropist Anne Hearst. “So my poshest room would likely be the one Anne and I are building right now in Water Mill [New York]. Robert Couturier is designing it, and it’ll have a lot of ceilings, floors, and fireplaces that were intended for San Simeon [the California town where Anne’s grandfather, William Randolph Hearst, built his famous castle] but which never made it there.”
En route to the ballroom, Nina Griscom quietly consulted her hunky Argentine husband, Leonel Piraino. “His library,” she answered. “It’s covered in tobacco-leaf panels we had custom made in the Philippines. Garrison Rousseau helped me put it together. We had it all measured and installed. And it smells wonderful.”
“Anything Robert has touched,” answered Tiffany Dubin, a fashion and decorative-arts specialist who works in client services at Sotheby’s. Couturier did not, however, design her beloved bedroom. “I live in it,” she said. “The bed is an Art Nouveau design, sort of Les Lalannes–like.”
Just before dinner, we caught up with fashion designer Naeem Khan. Though his elegant New York loft served as an interior in the film Monsoon Wedding, he tabbed the living room of his Miami apartment. “It has a big crystal chandelier from a palace in India,” he revealed. “The fixture is 11 feet by nine feet—the size of, say, a good-size baby elephant.”
Writer Amy Fine Collins—one of the evening’s hosts—mentioned that she, too, owns a noteworthy chandelier. “The poshest room in my house is the maid’s room, which has been converted into my closet,” she said. “It has all my posh gowns. And I have a tall Billy Baldwin monkey chandelier hanging from the ceiling—it was a gift from Hamish Bowles.”
Others cited their posh bathrooms, including Lizzie Tisch, who arrived at the Pierre on the arm of her mogul husband, Jonathan, the evening’s auctioneer. “We have a powder room that is a favorite of mine,” she said. “It has a metallic-pink toilet that a man in Florida made us. It’s just a jewel box of a space.”
That theme was picked up the next day, at the Betty White event hosted by the Friars Club. When asked about the poshest space in his house, Regis Philbin called out, “her bathroom,” referring to the one belonging to his spouse, Joy. “That’s true,” Joy confirmed.
White herself opts for rooms that are fuzzy and familiar. “I live in my den,” she said. “It’s warm and cozy and decorated in gold-pink to match my golden retriever.”
Reality star Bethenny Frankel finds solace in her closet—which she calls a “dressing suite”—designed by the New York firm Gomez Associates. “It’s heaven,” she said. “It has beautiful hand-done wallpaper, a mirrored vanity, and 12- to 13-foot ceilings and windows.”
TV and radio titan Larry King admitted his trophy room knocks his socks off. “It has every honor I’ve ever been given, and every athletic award my children have ever gotten,” he explained. “If we feel a little low, we go into that room.”
Kathie Lee Gifford, also at the luncheon, extolled the virtues of her outdoor space. “Our house is very much a home, and in it we have a pub, a movie theater, and a recording studio,” recounted the Today show cohost. “But the poshest element is the out-of-doors. We live on a 20-foot cliff out on a peninsula overlooking the Long Island Sound and the New York skyline.”
At the USA fête, Academy Award–winning actress Ellen Burstyn, the star of the forthcoming series Political Animals, revealed that her escape is her bedroom. “It’s large—it’s a library,” she said. “And it has my favorite Buddha lamp and favorite purple Chinese rug in it. It’s all pretty wonderful.”
Burstyn’s costar Carla Gugino cited her roof deck—“even though it’s not officially a room”—explaining that she had recently acquired the oasis after moving to New York from Los Angeles. She added that her California home, once a French consulate, featured a knockout “I’m-ready-for-my-close-up stairwell with a high ceiling and an old chandelier.”
Alas, not everyone is comfortable with posh. “We’re not fancy,” Sigourney Weaver offered. “Exotic perhaps.” In her relatively unpretentious living room, there are “sculptures of palm trees, I think from the 1930s,” she said. “There are paintings from all over and a lot of African fabric. It’s a room where you should feel very welcome.”
Finally, while Campbell Scott’s character on the show Royal Pains, Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz, gets to call the 127-room Oheka Castle on New York’s Long Island his home, the actor admitted his own residence is not quite so fancy. “Dude,” he told AD, “my home is many things. But posh it is not.”