The Egghead Debutante

Hadley has been shopping here since she was a little girl, and because Constitution Day is coming up, on Sept. 17, she needed a pair of black shoes. She likes to feel put together. “Sweatpants make me feel half-asleep. Like I just rolled out of bed or something,” Hadley said. She likes Diane von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney, Catherine Malandrino, Cynthia Rowley, Marc Jacobs and J. Crew “for filling-in pieces.”

“How is my favorite debutante doing?” squealed Ms. Noel, emerging to greet her.

“For many of the important occasions in my life, I have bought Vanessa Noel shoes,” Ms. Nagel said. Including prom. “I wore this great turquoise Carlos Miele dress, with a Hermes belt I stuck around it, and I had to change into my pink very twirly Betsy Johnson prom dress in the Port-a-Potty!”

The doorbell rang and Susan Nagel walked in wearing a pink-and-white blouse, white pants and pink shoes.

The elder Ms. Nagel was raised in the South and moved to New York about 30 years ago. She would go to Studio 54 with Kathy and Rick Hilton (who are still “best of friends”), Anne Hearst, Roger de Cabrol, Cornelia Guest, Anne Eisenhower, Chappy Morris, Christine Biddle and Anthony Haden-Guest. She met her husband in a snowstorm. They were founding members of the Metropolitan Society. “We hosted Donna Karan’s first fashion show at Bergdorf Goodman, as well as some very interesting benefits on behalf of New York City arts organizations,” said Ms. Nagel, an organized woman who keeps track of her schedule the old-fashioned way. She has her date planner at home, and numerous Post-It notes in her bag with different things she has to do that day. At the bottom of her pink bag, there was a portfolio containing numerous pictures of Hadley. “There she is at prom, and here she is at the NOFA charity with Lauren Bush and Christie Brinkley,” Ms. Nagel intoned.

One of the Nagels’ favorite spots in Manhattan is the Metropolitan Club on 60th Street near Central Park. Hadley started to join her parents at the club when she was just a baby, and met her first Santa on the large, grand stairwell.

A devotee of museums, she said that the Met is her favorite. “It has something for everybody. For a more specialized experience, I would recommend the Frick, the Cloisters, the Rubin Museum and, of course, the New York Historical Society.”

Hadley took a breath. “By living in New York City you’re exposed to all sorts of resources you perhaps wouldn’t get as a teenager in other areas. There is all sorts of …” She paused for a moment, squinting. “You are always coming into contact with different cultures. The thing that is similar with everyone is that everybody is always in a rush, but yet I’ve seen tourists stop people and everybody is always so willing to be nice. I think it’s important in a city to be interested in something but always be willing to learn about and willing to try new things.”

Where would Hadley never go in this city?

“Brooklyn,” she said. “I haven’t run out of things yet to do in Manhattan.”

The Egghead Debutante