An American in Paris

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Marvin Traub, the former chairman of Bloomingdale's. But I freely admit that the driving force behind my race against the clock to get to his book party was the fact that it was held at the residence of Craig Stapleton, the American ambassador to France. Swanky, eh?

The party ended at 8 p.m. and I was checking my watch and hyperventilating in traffic because I wanted to be able to sip champagne and nibble an hors d'oeuvre or two in the historical rooms of the residence.

I arrived at about 7:30 and passed through the metal detector. I was expecting more security, but a nod to the guards and a flash of an e-mailed copy of the invitation was enough to get me in the door. The place is a study in high ceilings, gilding and photographs of assorted Bush family members. There is even a rather large photo of a stiff-looking George W. Bush in one of the rooms that reminds me of the kind of picture that might come with the frame. Nothing much personal about it.

There were multiple bars serving champagne and tasty hors d'oeuvres, including chocolate petit fours topped with edible gold leaf. I grabbed a couple of napkins embossed with "United States of America" and stuffed them into my bag. After all, how often do you get to go to the Ambassador's pad? I was tempted to try and find the bathroom and check out the medicine cabinet. (Just kidding.)

As I was leaving, I received a copy of Traub's book, which is called "Like No Other Career." Since leaving Bloomie's, Traub has created an investment group, served as a consultant and generally been a wise man in the fashion business. In return for getting to snoop around the Ambassador's residence, I promise to read the book.

By Robin Givhan |  October 3, 2008; 8:10 AM ET Paris
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