Victoria’s Secrets: A nostalgic week

My Ostrowsky cousins Danny, Nicole & Peter in Fort Lauderdale

It was a great surprise to hear from my cousin, Peter Ostrowsky, who I grew up with, but who moved to Miami in the ‘50s that his brother, who lives in Paris and Nice, was in Miami and Peter wanted us all to meet. 

We decided to find a halfway point and Fort Lauderdale was it. Ironically, I had been at a John Catsimitidis’ breakfast last year in Fort Lauderdale and was very impressed, but I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful woman Ruchel Coetzee, who works for Douglas Elliman in their Fort Lauderdale office. When I told her I was coming for lunch to meet my cousins, she offered to take me on a tour of Fort Lauderdale. I’ve adored living in Palm Beach, but I’m a curious person, so I immediately accepted her offer!

Danny and Nicole, both accomplished retired physicists at Nice University and Peter, who is in the nursery business supplying plants to all the developers in southern Florida, were waiting at the Southport Clam Bar waterfront table when I arrived. There was a massive six story building facing our table and when I asked the waiter, he explained it’s a multi-level storage building for boats.

I also learned that Fort Lauderdale is called the “Venice of America” and I was soon to find out why. It’s a city with an endless number of canals where every home has a boat in their backyard!

Lunch passed too quickly, having caught up on decades of happenings in our lives. We grew up only a few blocks from each other in Brooklyn and spent summers together on Lake Oscawana, but as adults our families separated by great distances, which sadly meant infrequent visits. I barely know either Danny’s or Peter’s children, but reunions like our lunch reinforced the love we have for each other!

When I left them, I went downtown to meet Ruchel. I hopped into her car to get a tour of the downtown and waterfront neighborhoods.

I was enormously impressed by their theater, cultural center, museum and universities, all located downtown. Development is everywhere and the popular Brightline train now operating locally from Palm Beach to Miami goes right into Fort Lauderale’s downtown area.

Stephanie Ricatti and Nancy Argott wearing Gucci Palm Beach
Twin sisters Sally Chandler from Chanel & Nancy Argott from Gucci
Sarah de Blasio

We traveled along Las Olas Boulevard and Ruchel drove me down the endless “canal” streets. She shared with me that many people get into their boats to go for dinner, and there are even water taxis that traverse the many canals. It reminded me of Venice’s water taxis, where you can hop on and off.

Fort Lauderdale is called the Venice of America because of its canals. Photo via Getty Images

Fort Lauderdale is remarkably similar to Venice, having great restaurants and hotels, but here there are superb beaches, too. I can understand why Fort Lauderdale should be on the top of people’s list of travel destinations in southern Florida. Stay tuned for a special section featuring Fort Lauderdale!

I had met Ruchel at a party in Kara Ross’ home, where we had dinner with the designer Alvin Valley and enjoyed his fashions.

Showing off designer Alvin Valley’s handbag collection: Ramona Singer, Daniella Bradley, Pamela Morgan, Lauren Day Roberts, Pamala Wright & Kim Renk Dryer

Sitting next to me at dinner was John Yunis! My son’s name is Jon Yunis and they both were at Syracuse University at the same time — John as an undergraduate and my Jon in medical school! They never met, but my Jon got many calls asking for John Yunis, whose number was unlisted! What an amazing world!

One of the things I love about Palm Beach is its cultural life and I was delighted to attend the Norton Museum of Art gala.

When I entered the lobby, I was so happy to see my dear friends Ted Vassilev (CEO of DTR Modern Galleries) and his wife Simona.

Simona & Ted Vassilev with Michelle DeBois

We exchanged kisses and I noticed heartthrob movie star George Hamilton standing near them. I fearlessly approached him and with great warmth he shared his joy of living in Palm Beach. We chatted for a while and I got his phone number for a future interview!

Mathias Rastorfer & George Hamilton

Dear friend Jean Shafiroff was also there with her husband Martin, looking spectacular in her pink ball gown.

Jean & Martin Shafiroff

It was a collection of beautiful people donating to the museum and stunningly enhancing the art around them! What a night!

Marigay McKee & Fred Powers
Lee Frye & Allison Arrouet
Yaz & Valentin Hernandez
The Filardis from Quogue and Palm Beach