Story & Photos by Lieba Nesis:
The holidays are a tough time for those of us stuck in New York and I was anxiously anticipating Victor de Souza’s invitation to a Pre-Sylvester night dinner at the Hungarian Mission located at 227 East 52nd street. The email was addressed personally to Ms. Lieba Nesis so I knew this would be an exceptional affair. Upon arriving at the brownstone at 7:30 PM I was greeted by “Her Eminence” Katalin Bogyay, the permanent representative of Hungary to the UN who looked festive and elegant in a floor length coat dress with a diamond flowered brooch and earrings. There were ladies in gowns and cocktail dresses socializing amidst UN honchos Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the UN, and Danny Danon, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations. Amidst all the splendor of the holiday decor, stood Victor de Souza’s models who were referred to as “living sculptures” serenely standing in front of white walls or paintings. De Souza is a Brazilian born designer who dresses celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman and Katy Perry. The highly structured shapes and lines of his clothing transform everyday pieces to works of art, unsurprising for someone who designed his first collection at the ripe age of 18. Victor’s ebullience coupled with his humble demeanor has made him a darling of the social set and his high octane smile has livened the living room of many Park Avenue apartments. However, de Souza is not adequately recognized for the magnificence of his collections, and that might be due to his lack of pretension which is a necessity in the fashion universe. On this evening, his designs were perfection with models in highly intricate gowns and dresses wearing masks and furs with cutouts in all the right places. The clothing was dramatic and show-stopping with meticulous attention paid to every detail of the model’s look-the shoes, jewelry and headgear were all in perfect sync. My favorite was the short haired African American model who wore a sheer armored gown with detachable sleeves-this was “Gladiator meets Diva” without any apologies. Victor is a super perfectionist and most of the evening he stood next to his creations and made sure their look was flawless.
Amidst the Hungarian hors d’oeuvres and music I bumped into an old friend from Harvard, Leah Pisar and her mother Judith. Pisar’s father, Samuel, was one of the most renowned lawyers in Paris, and his recent demise was mourned by his wife Judith Pisar who remains one of the most globally renowned socialites. After the new opera “Bonfire of the Vanities” was beautifully performed by soprano Jasmina Halimic and baritone Robert Balonek, a buffet dinner was served with Hungarian music accompaniment. As the guests departed, Judith Pisar began to dance to the melodious tunes with a gaiety that was so remarkable it had me in tears; The ability of Parisians to smile despite recent tragedies is what allows Europe to continually thrive as one of the cultural centers of the world.