Flawless Friendships

You wonder: Are these friendships real? Moving between social events, work appointments, charity boards, school cocktail parties, and ladies luncheons—are these women that you meet on the New York social circuit genuine? You may think that you connected, shared a few laughs, and perhaps even vacation in the same places or attend the same spin class. You search for that bond and common denominator so you can make a connection. Friendships can be funny in New York. There are many different types to navigate. So yes, it is a tough town, and finding a true friend can be challenging—but when you find it, you must recognize its uniqueness. They become your sister, your family, your support system, and true confidant. They are the ones who make you laugh uncontrollably, listen when you complain, and always have your back (never talking behind it). There are many women to admire or aspire to in New York, especially for their dedication to their friends. These women are real, confident, and know the importance of supporting other women. The kindness and the support they have for each other is enviable. These women are dynamos—strong, but stronger together.

Aerin Lauder and Lauren duPont met in the ’90s during Milan Fashion Week. Aerin was working at Estée Lauder and Lauren was an editor at Vogue magazine. They were both covering the fashion shows for work while staying at the Grand Hotel in Milan. “Aerin always had the nicest hotel room, so that’s where we would hang out after dinners and whenever we had a free moment. I think that is when we really got to know each other,” says Lauren. The two began working together at Estée Lauder in 2006 on various projects and have been working together ever since. They are both strikingly stylish and have an eye for beauty. They are usually spotted in the front row of every fashion show, comparing notes on the collections. Aerin is the CEO and founder of Aerin, Inc., and Lauren is the creative consultant for the brand. They are glamorous and timeless, not trendy. They have learned to work together and travel together. Lauren describes their friendship as “a gift that keeps getting better every year we spend together.” Their journey is founded on trust and respect for each other as professionals and mothers. A day does not go by without checking in. “Aerin is a phone person,” Lauren says, “which I love. I speak to Aerin probably five or six times a day. I speak to her more than my husband.”

Aerin Lauder and Lauren Dupont at a party for Elle in 2007
Aerin Lauder and Lauren Dupont in Positano, Italy

Veronica Swanson Beard and Allison Aston never thought they would find new friendship in their mid-30s and late 20s. They initially met through a mutual friend who suggested they get their children together. Eventually, play dates led to a suggested dinner date with husbands. When the couples entered the restaurant, their husbands immediately embraced each other. Jay and Jamie had known each other from summer camp days at Wild Goose. They have since enjoyed years of travel, dinners, and sports together. They love playing tennis as couples and always keep score. They eventually collaborated in business, with Allison as head of all partnerships and events and Veronica as founder and CEO of her eponymous clothing line, Veronica Beard, which she started with her sister-in-law, Veronica Miele Beard. Due to their shared passion and confidence, one might guess that maintaining a work/friendship balance could pose a challenge. But they have figured it out. They rely on their mutual admiration to work through any issues that should arise. The friendship is still young, but the two friends and colleagues realize they are more powerful together than they are apart.

Allison Aston and Veronica Beard
 Veronica Beard and Allison Aston

Mary Kathryn Navab and Ashley McDermott share a unique history and fortitude. These women met when they were 17 year olds at Southern Methodist University in Texas. Although they were not sorority sisters, they were roommates in summer school. Mary Kathryn remembers, “We cried after college on the steps of the sorority house, thinking we would never see each other again.” Surprisingly, they did connect again—they both ventured to New York City, where they found careers, husbands, and had children. They have shared years of fun and funny stories from their youth. Today they live directly across the street from each other in Southampton, Long Island. They are very similar—stunning blondes with lots of confidence and creativity. They both are known for their warm hospitality and having the best dinner parties in Manhattan. Ashley is a published author, mother of three, and married to Jeff McDermott. Mary Kathryn worked in finance before starting a family of three children with her husband, Alex Navab. They were bridesmaids in each others’ weddings. Both women lead busy lives of work, kids, charities, and exotic travel to places like Cuba, Cabo, Acapulco, Anguilla, London, and Paris. Neither ever seems to sit still, but they always find time to be together.

Ashley McDermott (left) and Mary Kathryn Navab (right)

I feel blessed to know each of these women and to have shared special memories and adventures with all of them. I cherish, respect, and trust them. As a designer for Blair Husain Jewelry, I appreciate the rarity of the gemstones I select, just like the friends I choose. Sometimes you may jump into a friendship too quickly or gravitate to the color of a stone for a new setting, simply because of the sparkle. These friendships and stones sometimes appear like the ones you want, but may not possess the real strength and endurance you need to have real lasting value. And an exquisite stone—like a friendship—never loses its value.

These pairs of friends move around New York, Southampton, Locust Valley, and Palm Beach. They have incredible marriages, children, and careers. But the possession of immeasurable value that they all share lies in the way that they are loyal to, supportive of, and respectful of other women—especially their friends. People cultivate numerous relationships throughout their lives, and hopefully learn from each experience. True friends are rare, valuable, and timeless (and fun to go out with, like your favorite piece of jewelry). So when you find a real one, appreciate it. Know that it is rare, will always need work, and will be the envy of all.