Early Wednesday afternoon, the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel was filled with a crowd clad in Chanel summer tweed and Louboutin kitten heels. The Ladies Who Lunch crowd had turned out, in fine form, for the Women’s Forum of New York’s Elly Awards Luncheon. The women being honored — Evelyn Lauder, Senior Vice President of the Estee Lauder Companies, and the city’s de facto first lady, Diana Taylor — were predictable enough. Same with the award presenters: makeup entrepreneur Bobbi Brown and Citigroup bigwig Lisa Caputo.
What could possibly go wrong?
After introductions and award presentations by Ms. Brown and Ms. Caputo, the honorees sat down with Barbara Walters for a joint interview.
The conversation started off with exchanged pleasantries as Ms. Walters asked cautious, careful questions about women in government, leadership, and the many definitions of success.
“Older women should be on boards,” announced Ms. Lauder. “There’s just less hormones, less crying.”
The Observer, a good thirty years younger than the rest of the women seated in the gilded ballroom, suddenly became a little uneasy.
The shocked silence that followed Lauder’s statement was suddenly broken by a buzz of whispers. The women at the table next to The Observer gasped. “This is a disaster,” one of them murmured.
Ms. Walters quickly stepped in to remedy the situation, calming the room of furious luncheon attendees with a stern look, and continued with the interview unfazed.
The back of the room, however, was still abuzz with outraged luncheon attendees, and The Observer decided to discreetly slip out the back. As Lauder stated, younger women shouldn’t schmooze with an older crowd.