By: Mary Jo Almeida-Shore
It’s like we always say: “Wherever you go, there YOU are.” So it makes perfect sense that on the biggest party night of the year, while out-of-towners flocked to the big clubs and the hottest hotels on South Beach, many seasoned partygoers opted for more intimate private affairs rather than the high-priced, big-ticket parties (not that there’s anything wrong with those), choosing to check out hotspots like the revamped, sizzling, Shelborne; party palace, LIV; and our “home away from home” Soho Beach House on any night BUT New Year’s Eve. This is not to say that we didn’t make a pit-stop at the above on our NYE Party Patrol escapade- to bring you the inside info. But we were fortunate to ring in 2012 among two of our favorite ladies, Iran Issa-Khan and Marcella Novela, who hosted concurrent, exclusive, NYE soirees, filled with guests and surprises as special as the hostesses themselves. Regardless of how you chose to celebrate, one thing’s for sure, we hope you have a terrific year wherever and whoever you are. It has definitely gotten off to a great start. Here’s the lowdown on what went down.
Iran Issa-Khan’s Circle of Fun
World renowned photographer, and inspiration, Iran Issa-Khan hosted several dozen of her closest friends, many of whom she considers family, at her expansive condo, which overlooks the ocean and all of Miami for a night of dining, dancing, sweeping views, spirits, spirited conversations and 360 degrees of fireworks, heralding the dawn of a new year.
Upon arrival to Iran’s home, we were stricken by the contrast of the stark white-on-white walls and furnishings and the bold, larger-than-life photographs of crimson flowers and brilliant seashells that seem to parallel Iran, herself, in a sense: so private on the one hand yet impossible to overlook and resist – filling any room she enters with intoxicating laughter and light. Such was the case when she greeted her guests from all over the globe on the last night of the year, in her casually elegant manner, joking and welcoming them into her living room and kitchen to put the finishing touches on the perfect meal, as La Vie en Rose played in the background.
Moments just before and after midnight, were filled with toasting on the balcony in the glare of fireworks displays from all over town followed by what can best be described as a “Circle of Fun” (think the Horah minus the bride and groom atop chairs) as guests including: Zaha Hadid, Barbara Becker, Sean Flannery, Shannon Hori, James and Julia Lin, Susie and Walid Wahab, Sam Robin, Michelle Oka Donner, Michael Leondas Kirkland, and Eduardo and Athina Marturet joined hands and danced en-circle with arms up and flowing to beautiful music from the Middle East as Iran danced in delight in the center, embracing some of her close friends, such as Walid Wahab- a fitting metaphor for her life- embraced and surrounded by friendship and love.
An Artsy New Year’s Eve at the Novelas’
Part of our post-midnight revelry took place at the gorgeous two-story, Spanish style home of attorney Daniel Novela and his stylish wife, philanthropist, Marcella. The Novelas, along with co-hosts, Alex Cohen and Lawrence Binder celebrated the New Year with many fellow art aficionados including: Alan Randolph, Steven Rodriguez, Hadley and Yannick Henriette, Susanne Birbragher, Alejandro Levy, Kathryn and Dan Mikesell, Leann Standish, Charles Daucourt, Aileen Quintana and Nicolas Stipcianos and Aaron Glickman. Guests enjoyed cocktails generously donated by OR-G Vodka, Mandarin Napoleon and Auténtico Tequila Alacrán and music by DJ Sasha Savic from Zurich. By the time we arrived, Marcella had taken control of her brand-new DJ equipment, playing some of our favorite Old-School tunes. Marcella and Daniel shared the following about their party, “We are so grateful to have such an incredible group of friends, we wouldn’t want to celebrate the New Year with anyone else.”
We can’t think of a better night to get engaged than on New Year’s Eve- a night filled with infinite promise and promises. For us, the magical moment took place on New Year’s Eve, many moons ago in a helicopter between the Twin Towers (more on this at a later date); for LeBron James and his long-time girlfriend/high school sweetheart, Savannah Brinson it was at the Vesper American Brasserie at the Shelborne among 60 friends and family members, including LeBron’s mother, Gloria James, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, Chris Bosh, Adrienne Williams (baby bump “in-show”), Jessica White, Nas, and LeBron and Savannah’s two sons LeBron Jr and Bryce during the Remy Martin V dinner.
Guests didn’t seem to mind that the dinner started 3 hours late and appetizers were still being served at 11:45 p.m. thanks to the free-flowing Remy V, which lead to one unfortunate guest losing her balance and the creation of a new catch phrase “Blame it on the REMY.” LeBron stepped away from the restaurant just before midnight to perform his countdown duties with Wade, Bosh, and hotel owners Keith Menin and Jared Galbut at the SL Nightclub hosted bash poolside then returned to the Vesper, got down on one knee and proposed to Savannah with a 7-carat diamond ring, which she tearfully accepted. Following the engagement, LeBron immediately picked up his kids and swung them around and was then surprised with a towering birthday cake, draped in Swarovski crystals and edible 18 carat gold, with “LJ” on the top. At one point, Queen Latifa, Gloria James, and LeBron James shared a quick group hug, causing a huge traffic jam and commotion.
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