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Beauty Inc issue 04/20/2007

Dior Beauty’s Dianne Vavra gives us an inside peek at the company’s intimate A-list dinner.

When I joined the public relations department at Dior Beauty nearly a decade ago, no one could have told me I’d be breaking bread with Charlize Theron and Sheryl Crow in one night. But with our annual Oscar week dinner at the Chateau Marmont, that’s exactly what I do.

This story first appeared in the April 20, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

It began about seven years ago as a small gathering, with agents, publicists, industry people and a few makeup artists. Right off the bat it was pretty clear I had a brilliant publicity opportunity on my hands. Even though Naomi Watts, who had graciously agreed to wear Dior makeup on the red carpet that year, was our sole A-list guest, interest from the media—and other celebrities—was immediate. Magazines asked for exclusive coverage and publicists began calling in December to solicit invites for clients. Today, I actually have to turn away VIP guests.

Keeping the essence of the dinner—intimate, informal, fun—can be tough. It’s easy for an event like this to turn into a paparazzi feeding frenzy, but our regular guests, including Emmy Rossum, Diane Kruger, Angie Harmon and Rachel Zoe, appreciate the under-the-radar feel. Only one photographer covers the event, and only during cocktails. This year, in spite of a rainy, unseasonably cold evening, our long table for 30 was packed with everyone from Mission Impossible 3 actress Maggie Q to the gorgeous Helena Christensen, who brought her beau, Jack Huston (Anjelica’s nephew).

The gals sipped martinis and actually talked beauty; when we handed out makeup cases chock-full of Dior product, they were genuinely delighted in going through their goodie bags, trading lip gloss shades and experimenting with each other at the table.

By the time the last guest left at about one a.m., I was feeling a mix of exhausted and energized. For all of this celebrity schmoozing, I still have “pinch me” moments on a regular basis (case in point: Charlize showed up early and helped me set up!). While I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything, I’m thankful that (unlike my celebrity guests) I can run to the drugstore or the park with my kids without worrying about being caught sans Rouge Dior lipstick.

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