The Katz Meow
Who is that stylish philanthropist with the model’s good looks who recently completed her tenure as vice chairman of the Kennedy Center’s National Committee for the Performing Arts? That one—the tireless supporter of so many charities including downtown LA’s Dream Center? She’s Kelly Fisher Katz.
Our CATHERINE WILLIAMS caught up with Kelly in hubby Martin Katz’s Jewel Suite at the Towers at the New York Palace Hotel.
I spot Kelly Fisher Katz across the living room of the Martin Katz Jewel Suite at the Towers at the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan. As she glides across the room to greet me (and yes, she glides), I am reminded of why I’m so fond of her. Kelly is one of those rare women who commands attention without demanding it; unfailingly elegant but not without spunk. She’s the fiercely loyal friend who always has your back.
“I’m working today, so I’m doing a casual day,” she says, explaining her jeans. Her look of jeans, a Chanel jacket, Alaia walking shoes, and a Birkin slung across her arm is nonetheless photo ready. Kelly insists on a glass of wine as we tour the suite. As part of a $140-million renovation of the New York Palace Hotel, Kelly’s husband, famed jewelry designer Martin Katz, was chosen to design the lavish three-story jewel-themed suite. Martin’s brilliant designs are on display everywhere, but the breathtaking interior design is Kelly’s.
As we settle onto a sapphire-blue sofa, it occurs to me that Kelly could easily add ‘sought-after interior designer’ to her already full résumé. “It was a labor of love. We designed everything from the artwork to some of the furniture. Every book I chose is something that Martin is passionate about. Everything reflects the idea of luxurious jewels. When you rent the suite, you live amongst a million dollars worth of jewels.”
The Jewel Suite marks the first interior design project for Martin and Kelly, though since winning the prestigious Gold Key award in 2014 for Best Suite, they have had numerous offers to design other hotels, a bar, and even a private plane. “We have to figure out how much we can do. We’re a small team and we are really in the jewelry business. Now I’m into the interior design world. It’s like a new career, which is exciting.”
Scheduling is the key. Between traveling for her own career as a spokesperson and voiceover artist, and for her husband’s business, Kelly’s plate is full. But there is always time to indulge her love of fashion. “I love Chanel. I was very blessed to be invited to the couture show in January when Karl Lagerfeld turned the Grand Palais into a brasserie. Oh, my goodness, it was just incredible!” She gushes about Alexander McQueen, Alaia, and her penchant for collecting Hermès bags. And of course, Tom Ford. “I think he’s a genius and so multi-talented. The man does everything well.” But she is quick to add, “Talking about designers can sound so over the top. I am not always that fancy girl. I really love being in jeans and a t-shirt. That’s my comfort level too.”
Beyond her impeccable style, attention must be paid to Kelly’s role as a driven philanthropist. “I get the most satisfaction from helping people and doing my charity work.” She’s a champion for arts education, and I sense her frustration with the lack of artistic opportunities for children. “We don’t have a budget for arts educators in the state of California.” It’s a problem she has worked tirelessly to remedy. Kelly spent years on the board of PS Arts in Los Angeles and just completed her tenure as vice chairman of the Kennedy Center’s National Committee for the Performing Arts, which works to fund and create arts education projects for children. “We want to make sure that every child can be exposed to the arts at some level. You never know how they will be inspired. They could go to a ballet once, be inspired, and it follows them through their life and they wind up in a career in the arts. It’s really all about educating children.”
Kelly is also an ardent supporter of the Dream Center in downtown LA. And she isn’t just writing checks. She’s a hands-on participant, counseling drug- and alcohol-addicted men and supporting human-trafficking victims. As she shares several stories of lives that were utterly transformed by the Dream Center, her enthusiasm is contagious. “You can’t help but be moved if you go there; it’s a phenomenal place.”
Her compassion and commitment are refreshingly genuine, and seem to bring her own charmed life into focus. “I’m so grateful for my health and my family. And I have the most wonderful friends. We count our blessings whenever we’re together. We talk about it, we acknowledge it. I think if you can get a good group of friends who become your family, that’s a big blessing.” I couldn’t agree more.