The Good Girls of New York’s Junior Establishment

Brooke de Ocampo’s elegant hand swan-dived into a bowl of jelly beans. “You’re running out of licorice,” Ms. de Ocampo told her hostess, Sloan Lindemann. Despite the many handsome rooms of Ms. Lindemann’s Park Avenue apartment, the crystal bowl filled with jelly beans on the coffee table in the living room “is always the center of the apartment,” she said.

Ms. Lindemann, Ms. de Ocampo and Nathalie Gerschel, all card-carrying members of New York’s younger social establishment, had encamped in Ms. Lindemann’s claret-colored parlor on Jan. 7 for afternoon tea and to regroup before a cocktail party that evening. The three young women are honorary co-chairmen of Young Collector’s Night, a $125-a-head fund-raiser to be held on Jan. 21 at the Seventh Regiment Armory’s 45th annual Winter Antiques Show (Jan. 15 to Jan. 24) that will raise money for the East Side House Settlement, a social services agency for families in the South Bronx. That evening, they were hosting the Young Collectors planning committee at Ms. Lindemann’s apartment. The other honorary co-chairs are model Claudia Schiffer and Swing magazine editor David Lauren; Stephen Ketchum, Elizabeth Sigety and Joan Young are the genuine co-chairs.

There was much sisterly concern for the comfort of Ms. de Ocampo, who is five months pregnant with twins. She and her husband, Emilio de Ocampo, already have a 1-year-old daughter. For now, Ms. de Ocampo is the sole oracle on married life in Manhattan. But that will change come spring. Ms. Lindemann, the daughter of cellular phone magnate George Lindemann and a former legal writer for the Daily News and Mirabella who now co-hosts Women’s Day Television programming on Pax TV, and Ms. Gerschel, the daughter of investment banker Patrick Gerschel and a special events planner who recently went to work at Christie’s Inc., are both engaged. Ms. Lindemann will marry businessman Roger Barnett on June 27 at her parents’ home in Greenwich, Conn., in a dress designed by Christian Lacroix. Ms. Gerschel, who is keeping her couture wedding dress a secret, will marry Columbia business school student Edward Kaplan in Paris on May 30.

“Once you’ve had a child, your skirt length lowers,” warned Ms. de Ocampo, a former Vogue style editor who now is a consultant at Sotheby’s. “Among other things.” The two other women were silent for a whole minute.

As a small troop of caterers arrived at the kitchen entrance, conversation started again regarding the party’s Moroccan theme–to match Ms. Lindemann’s Moroccan-themed dining room, of course. The three young women were planning to dress accordingly, except for Ms. de Ocampo, who had tickets to Electra at the Ethel Barrymore Theater later that night and said she would just wear bits of her mother’s exotic jewelry collection.

There was also the requisite amount of defending their social class and its philanthropy. “I know the Europeans, especially, criticize us in New York because so many of our parties are charities,” said Ms. Lindemann.

“They think we are too serious and don’t have fun,” added Ms. de Ocampo.

“But there is a great added bonus to doing something good and having a great time,” Ms. Lindemann said.

It’s how we do things here, they argued. New York’s circuit of society do-gooders predates them by several generations, to the start of this century. “I think what is different about our generation,” suggested Ms. Gerschel, “is that there used to be a smaller group who spread themselves thin. I think our age group is very selective about the charities they get involved with.” Ms. Gerschel focuses on the New York Botanical Garden, the Frick Collection and now the East Side House Settlement, which she first visited last fall.

“Listen,” said Ms. de Ocampo, “it may look glamorous, and the parties usually are, but volunteer work takes a lot of extra time when you have a job, if you’re married with children, or both. The press makes you out to look silly, but what can you do? As Sloan and Nathalie were, I was raised to believe that if you grow up with privileges in a city, you must give back. I like parties, like this evening for the young collectors at the antiques show, because you can have fun and see your friends as well as learn something.”

“Double awareness,” added Ms. Gerschel. “About the art and the settlement house.”

When it was suggested the young ladies sounded rather traditional–and pretty square–Ms. de Ocampo proposed that the trio were post-feminist feminists. “We are lucky to be able to call ourselves [that] because of the women who have paved the way before us,” she said. “All choices, motherhood, career, being feminine, are available to us.”

“O.K., I’ll admit it,” said Ms. Lindemann, who worked as a prosecutor in District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s office in her early years after New York University Law School. “I’m a clotheshorse and that’s O.K.”

Lots of laughs.

Ms. Gerschel, the youngest of the three women, made her own admission. She favors Oscar de la Renta, in whose public relations office she was employed for nearly two years. Ms. Lindemann, who wore a black Gucci sweater and Donna Karan pants, likes Christian Lacroix for evening. Ms. de Ocampo, who wore a black Gucci men’s-style shirt over a pair of black leggings, likes evening clothes made by Bill Blass and Badgley Mischka.

Asked which women inspire her, Ms. Lindemann cited Diane Sawyer “because she is intelligent, because she is feminine but also as strong as any man would hope to be.”

In terms of stylish women, Ms. Gerschel said she thought Catherine Deneuve was “remarkable.” Ms. de Ocampo said, “It’s Chessy Rayner. She just didn’t go out and buy expensive things.”

Is Hillary Rodham Clinton a role model?

“No comment,” they answered in near unison.

“Isn’t that sad?” said Ms. de Ocampo.

Ms. Gerschel described herself as a C-Span junkie, but said that affairs in Washington haven’t yet had a real impact on their social set.

“So far, there have been some hot debates at the dinner table,” said Ms. Lindemann, “but in New York, Wall Street influences mood much more than Washington.”

“Go to a dinner party when it’s a bad day on the Street,” added Ms. de Ocampo, “and you feel it big-time.”

Billy’s List: Quiz time!

1. Egads! Who provided the 100 pens used by the United States Senate to sign the oath book that incorrectly read “Untied State Senator”?

a. Tiffany & Company.

b. Parker.

c. Montblanc.

2. The new Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, caused a media fashion-flash recently when he went for a new wardrobe to:

a. Irv’s Men’s Clothing and Shoes in suburban Chicago.

b. Bloomingdale’s Brioni boutique.

c. Alfred Dunhill.

3. “Gucci Gulch” is:

a. George Plimpton’s nickname for Ira Rennert’s property in Sagaponack, L.I.

b. Representative Dale Bumpers’ name for the lobbyist-filled hallway leading to the Senate Finance Committee hearing room.

c. a punk band out of Los Angeles.

Answers: (1) b; (2) a; (3) b.

The Good Girls of New York’s Junior Establishment