RSVIP: Anjelica Huston Hosts "Red Night by Marrakech" in New York
With the help of PR guru Vanessa von Bismark, on Tuesday, September 28, Mr. Hamid Addou, CEO of the Moroccan National Tourist Office, transformed Skylight Studios in New York, a behemoth, blank white space into a red-lit Moroccan kasbah. An acre of red plush carpet, striped couches, ornate lanterns, and shiny silver coffee services decorating star-shaped metal tables, added a touch of Marrakech souq or marketplace to the cocktail hour.
Countess LuAnn de Lesseps mentioned having traveled to Marrakech and Casablanca often. "My ex-husband was always entering his Aston Martin in the rally of Morocco," the Countess told Luxist. "I remember driving across the Atlas Mountains, getting sideswiped by a van, and losing a door."
Nearby, our stately hostess, Anjelica Huston, wore a shimmering red dress by Pamela Barish. "I love Morocco," she said. "Gateway to the East . . . beautiful, mysterious, romantic . . . great shopping."
"Morocco appeals to a certain sensibility," continued Huston. "It has a great history. That wonderful North African allure, the Paul Bowles story, and Isabelle Eberhart, the adventuress who traveled in the Far East."
Eberhart converted to Islam circa 1900, traveling through North Africa as a man, Si Mahmoud Essadi. But Huston, our elegant hostess, mentioned that she had always traveled in Morocco in a less adventurous fashion. "I always went under quite lavish circumstances," she said. "My father [John Huston] made a movie there in the mid 1970s called "The Man Who Would Be King," one of his very best films. Of course, it's one of the few countries in Africa that are very safe to travel in and tourist-friendly."
"She's a real Marrakech-lover," insisted Hamid Addou, who wisely claimed that he chose Huston as a hostess because "She speaks from her heart about this city."
The inspired chef for the evening, Zakia Aît Aboulahcen, hails from Dar Rhizlane, an exclusive Moorish hotel in Marrakech. And, she, too, has a famed father, one of the top luxury hotel La Mamounia's star chefs. Starters were served on a rotating platform at the center of each table: caramelized quince, candied tomatoes with almonds, and aubergine caviar. As a main course, Aboulahcen served confit of chicken with dates and dried-fruit ratatouille. And for dessert, the triumph of the meal, she topped herself with caramelized pear in a double-skewered tent of a fried pastry with ras el-hanout ice cream. Powdered tan spice dusted the plate. Yum.
Musicians beat double-sided drums and sang and chanted traditional Moroccan-inspired Gnawa music, led by Hassan Hakmoun, a beloved musician who got his start on the streets of Marrakech.
Luxist spotted designer Cynthia Rowley seated near Huston's amusing co-host, actor Alan Cumming, and Carole Kane of "Taxi" fame, wearing native Moroccan dress at her table. "I've been back many times," Huston, seated beside film director Wes Anderson, exhorted the tony crowd before a modest-sized female dancer took the stage with arms flailing. "And I urge you all to book your flight."
To that end, travel consultant Lahsen El Ahreche glad-handed with charm and passed out cards at my table for the intriguingly deluxe Oussaden Tours. Tempting, indeed.