Ivana Trump’s New York – The New York Times

In the more is more New York of the 1980s and 1990s, when Ivana Trump was at the height of her powers, “social media” consisted of party pages and gossip columns, and the best way to get a name was to come out. A lot.

Ivana is out.

“She certainly knew how to get into the papers,” said author George Rush, who along with his wife, Joanna Molloy, wrote the New York Daily News gossip column Rush & Molloy from 1995 to 2010.

Ivana was at every major New York event, smiling alongside the richest, most famous, and most powerful people in town.

Arm in arm with Estée Lauder at Lincoln Center. Sitting next to Luciano Pavarotti for dinner at the Central Park Boathouse. Laughing with Jackie Mason, regaling Michael Douglas with stories, being carried like a bride by Fabio, shaking hands with Don King.

Her dresses, jewelry and hair were shiny and comically oversized, even by ’80s standards: a long metallic pink dress encrusted with crystals, adorned with a peplum and matching stole – draped acres of fabric over one shoulder, finished with a stiff bead and a jeweled choker as icing on the cake.

“She was definitely part of the fabric of New York City’s uptown and downtown nightlife scene,” said Michael Musto, the former Village Voice nightlife columnist.

If you had a voracious appetite for magazines and tabloids, Mrs. Trump, whose death at 73 was announced on Thursday, was everywhere. She was both larger than life and also one of many Manhattan characters who were your neighbors.

While driving down FDR Drive in a taxi, you may have briefly spotted the yacht called Trump Princess, anchored at the Water Club.

“I would call her the bold one with the bold name,” said Patrick McMullan, the photographer and columnist who has taken thousands of images over his 30-year career covering New York’s nightlife. “I covered that scene and I mean, I saw Ivana every night. She loved being photographed.

The circus. Stone. Frog. Where there were cameras and rich people, there she was.

“Donald never showed much interest in so-called New York society,” said Bob Colacello, the author and social commentator who wrote a 1992 Vanity Fair cover story about Ivana. “But Ivana really wanted to be part of the whole social scene. So she began to take a more active role in philanthropy, which is the path New Yorkers have always taken to become part of the establishment.

If you grew up in New York, certain names were familiar to you because they were also mansions, museums, streets or neighborhoods: Hamilton, Bloomingdale’s, Hewitt, Cooper, Vanderbilt, Astor. But the name Trump was new, sporting garish gold lettering on a building, rather than etched in turn-of-the-century stone.

Maybe at first Ivana was too flashy, too hungry, too new for the old-timer crowd. But she burst in. “I remember going to the Kentucky Derby once, and Marylou Whitney invited her on his plane,” Mr Rush said, referring to Marie Louise Whitney, wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney. “The Whitneys were certainly as good a name as you could wish for.”

Mr Colacello said: “One of the things Donald and Ivana had most in common was that they both loved publicity. They both wanted to be famous. Somehow they wanted to be famous more than they wanted to be rich.

That said, there was evidence that while Ivana played hard, she also worked hard: “Ivana became a businesswoman,” Colacello said. “She ran Atlantic City. She ran the Plaza Hotel. She was like a general, barking orders, and she liked it, and she was good at it.

After all the charity events, galas and dinner parties, it was the news of the divorce that pushed Ivana — who was absolutely on a first-name basis with New York — from the party page to the cover. There were cringe-worthy puns (“Ivana best deal”), but also some friendly allies.

“I liked him, his buoyancy, his good humor and his nimble navigation through New York’s social rapids,” Mr. Rush said. “And his resilience. Her ability to survive this marriage – and to remake herself.

She was often seen with gossip columnist Liz Smith and, dressed in Barbie rose on the cover of october 1990 from New York magazine, she appeared as a Zsa Zsa Gabor in character from “Green Acres” – or even Patsy Stone from “Absolutely Fabulous” – deeply shallow but seriously fun, fluttering, flipping all gold.

While her ex-husband has become something of a local villain, Ivana took on the role of the gay divorcee – dating younger men, skiing in St. Moritz, boating in St. Tropez, an appearance in the film “The First Wives Club”.

“She has become almost a feminist icon,” Mr. Colacello said. “She was fun. She was funny. She was hot and she was a little twisted.

And she kept going out, for decades.

“She came to a party I was having at Lucky Cheng’s, which was a street food restaurant,” Mr Musto said. He said Ivana was not only “lovely,” but generous: When a guest admired her jewelry — from the Ivana Trump collection, naturally — Ivana took her necklace off and put it back on abroad. “Of course, I don’t think it was worth millions,” Musto said. “But stay.”

Mr Musto added that although he didn’t know much about Ivana’s personal politics, he admired her for ‘surviving The Donald in style’. And she was always welcome at downtown parties: “Believe me, the drag queens were thrilled to see her, because some of them regularly dressed like her.”

Once in a while, if you went out too, you’d see her, in a glitzy ensemble, hair lacquered. She and her lavish bun were often seated at the right table at fundraising lunches and front row at fashion shows.

Some will remember her as filled with the kind of exhilaration enjoyed by any wealthy single mother living in New York.

“She believed in society with a capital S, but she was very down to earth,” Mr. Colacello said. Her ex-husband spent four years in Washington, DC, then moved to Florida; Ivana remained in New York, an Upper East Sider until the end.

One of the last photographs of Ivana to appear in the tabloids was taken long after her glamorous heyday. But she was there in 2018, wearing a leopard print jacket as she was buy street meat from a vendor on East 64th Street.

Mr. Colacello laughed. “I mean, she probably befriended the guy.”

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