Thursday, March 3, 2011
Let the New York Times introduce you to the Native Society:
On a frigid Friday night in February, about 150 preppy young men and women, mostly friends from the Upper East Side, turned out at the Plaza Hotel for a fund-raiser.
Foppish scions in their 20s ascended the grand marble staircase, and sipped champagne in couture gowns, velvet dinner jackets and tuxedo slippers rakishly embroidered with Chinese characters. Those disinclined to formal wear still looked clubbable in Burberry check jackets, bow-ties and Hermès scarves.
Set against the intricately patterned oak parquet floors and the robber baron-luxe red velvet sofas of the Rose Club, the affair took on the air of Mrs. Astor’s Four Hundred — if Mrs. Astor had been conducting a casting call for “Gossip Girl.”
But this was no ordinary cotillion. The black-tie party was for the Native Society, a new club that is limited to native New Yorkers, many of them city dwellers who might reside in 10021 — the ZIP code of upper Park and Fifth Avenues — or be graduates of certain prep schools.
“You can’t apply,” explained its founder, Oliver Estreich, 24, the son of an architect and interior designer who grew up on East 85th and Park Avenue. He formed the society in October with a few friends from prep school whom he refers to as his “administrators.” It quickly grew to several dozen, mostly by word of mouth, and now claims nearly 400 members.
“It’s the second-degree-of-association,” Mr. Estreich said. “If one of my administrators knows you, likes you, thinks you have the native sensibility, we’ll reach out.”
To Anne de la Mothe Karoubi, 24, who went to the Marymount School, it’s an intellectual precociousness. “When you grow up in New York City, our minds develop faster,” she said. “You’re not from Wisconsin, you’re not from the middle of America. We’re international, we’re focused, we’re driven.”