RSVIP: Women's Wear Daily Toasts 100th Anniversary at Cipriani 42nd Street
The drama began that morning at 5:30 a.m., when a 40-ton semi braked at the New York venue to unload original art by John Galliano. After much head-scratching, the elephantine signed canvas-cum-ballgown had to be removed from the stretcher and rolled to make it fit through the doors of the palatial former bank building. Lord knows how the Jeep Grand Wagoneer with faux wooden paneling, auction item lot 22202, with black watch seats designed by Tommy Hilfiger, rolled inside.
But by 6:00 p.m., a forest of fall foliage had taken its place in tall vases papered with the pages of WWD. And the vintage Jeep was parked at the center of a half-acre carpet. A shower of umbrellas decorated with a decoupage of fashion news cascaded down from the 80-foot-high ceiling.
Men and women in white linen jackets soon began taking coats and yet another crisp team passed hors d'oeuvres: croque-monsieur, porcini in phyllo, American caviar, crab canapé, and later, coffee mini éclairs.
Time to air smooch models, stars, and a hundred fashion designers: Iman; tsunami-surviver Petra Nemcova in a cerulean Marchesa number with poufy shoulders; Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, in a black tux and floppy bow tie; Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler in skinny pants; Narciso Rodriguez, Calvin Klein's Francisco Costa; Ralph Lauren in a black turtleneck; Thakoon; Tommy Hilfiger; YSL's Stefano Pilati wearing a dramatic white scarf; Vera Wang, Nancy and Henry Kissinger; Gossip Girl's Jessica Szohr and Martha Stewart.
The broadly beamed baronial hall was also festooned with dresses provided by the designers that were to be auctioned on Charitybuzz.com.
"It is fabulous," announced Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, right. "WWD means everything to me . . . a nail-biting few hours waiting for that review to come out online. It usually comes out while we're having dinner after our show."
"It's a big deal to me," agreed designer Tory Burch. "It's the first thing I read every morning. Yes, we've had covers. And that really does translate into sales."
"It's about everything that's happened in fashion in the last 100 years," explained WWD scribe Rosemary Feitelberg, dress by J. Mendel.
"It's like a time capsule, seeing all the faces in American fashion right here, my whole generation," says former J. Mendel designer Bibhu Mohapatra, nearby.
The din quieted as supermodel Karen Elson, left, in a shoulder-free red gown, sang a breathless, Marilyn Monroe-style "Happy Birthday to You" beside a giant slice of cake.
"It's the good news and the bad news," offered Fern Mallis of the eponymous fashion-consulting firm. "Some days you love the paper; other days you can't wait to throw it out. Everybody in this industry showed up here tonight, because they all want 'Women's Wear' to acknowledge them. It's remarkable in this day and age of 8 billion blogs that WWD still gets the story first."
The wall opening the party was papered with historic WWD covers, such as the one for March 31, 1989, "Oscar Fright," on which Demi Moore wears lace biker shorts to the Oscars. Yikes! Yard after yard of covers punning on frivolous trends are punctuated with jolting news. For July 19, 1999, "Paradise Lost," there is an image of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and her husband, John Kennedy, Jr., after their plane was tragically lost en route to Martha's Vineyard. The issue for July 16, 1997, "Death of a Designer," was a farewell to Gianni Versace after the beloved designer was gunned down in Miami Beach.
On their way out, guests were handed a biblical 320-page edition of WWD, which notably included a lexicon of famous bon mots coined by the periodical over the decades: "Beautiful People," "Jackie O," "Walker," and "Hot Pants," among others. The issue ends with items available online at Charitybuzz.com for the WWD 100th Anniversary Auction through November 18 benefiting causes selected by the designers.
Lots on display at Cipriani included an ethereal pleated gown by Alberta Ferretti, minimum bid $1,500; a distinctive Burberry trench coat with leather sleeves; a Chanel jacket with cuffs and bag; a Dolce and Gabbana dress and shoes; an Armani Privé evening dress, estimated value $56, 493; a Gucci bamboo bag in silver; a Navajo-style sweater dress by Ralph Lauren; a Prada chandelier outfit worn by Rita Wilson to the Emmy Awards; and the Tommy Hilfiger designed WWD@100 Wagoneer, estimated value $35,000.
When everyone of note had left, lights on, music off, Courtney Love appeared, one breast nearly tumbling out the side of her Marchesa dress. "I'm all wrapped up like a present," she said, after briefly referencing her new shark vibrator and then WWD's big day. "Here's my bow."