The Substance of Style

Photography by Harry Benson

Real style comes from within. When someone has character, passion, and a generous spirit, their inner light shines through brighter than diamonds. The seven remarkable women we pay homage to in this year’s “The Substance of Style” possess such a light. Chic and charitable, these ladies dedicate their lives to helping others and improving their communities. As always, we photographed them in simple white shirts—because it’s what’s inside that matters.


Audrey Gruss
Hope for Depression Research Foundation

Audrey Gruss, as Founder and Chair of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, had the courage and vision to form the Depression Task Force, an advanced collaboration of neuroscientists to find new and better treatments for depression and its related mood disorders. “Depression is the number one reason for disability worldwide. At HDRF, we are working tirelessly every day to address one of humanity’s greatest challenges.” She and her husband Martin are founders of the New York Hospital Weill Greenberg Center and donated the Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart & Stroke Center at Southampton Hospital. 

Jacqueline Desmarais
The Metropolitan Opera

Jacqueline Desmarais is one of the Metropolitan Opera’s longtime managing directors. She was awarded a Légion d’honneur for her philanthropy by French President Nicholas Sarkosy, who told her: “The world of opera owes a great deal to you.” When asked about her passion for opera, Desmarais said, “As far as I can remember, I have always loved music. It brings so much joy into my life and it makes me want to share my passion with others. It is such a privilege for me to be a Managing Director of the Board of the Metropolitan Opera. Not only am I being part of the greatest opera house in the world, but it gives me the opportunity to make a difference in the development of my favorite art form. Music can be so completely magical! It can affect our education, our emotions, our energy, our memory and it even has a great healing power. As Nietzche said, ‘Without music, life would be a mistake.’”

Pauline Baker Pitt
Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach

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Pauline Baker Pitt is a dedicated Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League supporter and board member, who chairs their Annual Christmas Ball. In 2000, Pitt became a director for the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, and has recently been named its Chairman. “I am very honored to become Chairman of the board of The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach. Our goal moving forward is to raise funds from town residents to oversee the improvement and beautification of the Northern entry to Palm Beach, meaning Bradley Park and Main Street.”

Edith McBean
African Parks Foundation, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya, Panthera, Rainforest Trust

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A long time advocate for conservation, Edith McBean has channeled her passion into active leadership positions for more than three decades. “Because our planet faces severe challenges to the environment and the animals we share the globe with, I have devoted my life to saving wild animals and the wild places they need to survive. I care deeply about these issues, and have been a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ conservationist for many years. I sit on four conservation boards that specialize in anti-poaching efforts to save elephants and rhinos, working with local communities and conservationists to save apex predators like tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards and the habitats they need to survive and, hopefully, thrive.” 

Mary McDonnell Davidson
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

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Mary McDonnell Davidson joined the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center more than 15 years ago and has been a part of many aspects of the society, “but my heart belongs to the Dream Team.” Davidson is the Chairman of the “Dream Team,” a small group of anonymous donors within the Society who grant wishes to patients. “There is nothing more meaningful than receiving a note from a patient saying that we had made something possible for them and, for a brief moment, they forgot all of their troubles.”

Michele Kessler
Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society

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Michelle Kessler is a trustee at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and on the President’s Advisory Council at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Nationally, I am on the Board of FAPE (Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies), and on the Board of the Ayenda Foundation (which builds schools in Afghanistan). In Palm Beach, I am the Chairman of the Board of the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society, and the Town of Palm Beach United Way.”

Dani Moore* 2M1A95 28 cropDani Moore
Town of Palm Beach United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County

Danielle (Dani) Hickox Moore was raised to love Palm Beach by her mother, former Mayor Lesly Smith, and works hard to give back to that community as a Town Council member. Moore is also a member of the Town of Palm Beach United Way executive committee and board of trustees; and a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County executive committee. She is also a recipient of Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Women of Distinction award. “I’ve lived here my whole life. I have a deep history here. I’m well aware of everything that’s happened in the past, but I can look toward the future.”