“I hate doing this. This is like my hell,” said Gwen Stefani as she presented an award at the Fashion Group International’s annual Night of Stars. “I don’t want to say a lot because I’m about to throw up now.”
Luckily, many of the guests were slightly less miserable about being at Cipriani Wall Street for the Thursday night gala, including Iman, Michael Stipe, James Franco, Dita Von Teese and the woman to whom Stefani was presenting, Coty’s Catherine Walsh.
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The parade of celebrities was there to help dole out prizes to their fashion-designer pals, with whom many also had nonsartorial projects in the pipeline. “I’m here for my friend,” said Jon Bon Jovi before presenting the Humanitarian Award to Kenneth Cole, with whom he is opening an affordable housing complex in Newark, N.J., on Dec. 9. “It’s great to be able to be here for him.
“Mary J. Blige also was there to give payback to fashion award winner Frida Giannini of Gucci. “Frida came with me today to open the first Mary J. Blige Center for Women in Yonkers, N.Y.,” she said. “She came with me to my hometown. It was really emotional. I cried.”
The evening’s theme, “The Storytellers,” had everyone musing about what it meant—from Vera Wang, who said her fashion shows are “short stories—told in nine minutes,” to Evan Rachel Wood, who said of her garnet-colored Gucci gown: “It’s saying that I dyed my hair brown, so I can wear red again,” said the former redhead.
And thankfully for everyone involved, the number of awards was cut from last year’s 13 to 11, even though the speechifying didn’t start until after the complete three-course meal of lobster salad, lamb chops and sorbet was served.
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Most speeches were fairly short and sweet, including that of Dior—jewelry designer Victoire de Castellane. “I’d like to thank the women who wear my jewelry as well as the men who buy it,” she said.
Diesel’s Renzo Rosso had a Roberto Benigni moment at the podium, thanking the entire country for his corporate leadership award. “I love USA. USA is my dream,” he said.
Paula Wallace of the Savannah College of Art and Design received the Sustainability award, Clodagh got the Architecture award and the Bravo channel was tapped for the 2009 Lord & Taylor Fashion Oracle Award.
Oscar de la Renta, who was dubbed the evening’s Superstar, brought his family, including Eliza Bolen and his son, Moises, along for the moment. “I am lucky because I have been given the opportunity to do what I love most, which is designing clothes and designing for women the best that I can. This is an extraordinary industry,” he said from the podium. Offstage, he said, “We have to do everything we can to live life the very best we can—that way we can always love and laugh.”
Von Teese was thrilled to be able to present to milliner Stephen Jones. “I can’t believe they are going to let me speak. They never let me do that,” said the burlesque dancer, before bestowing upon Jones a crown of his own design. “I was getting an award, so I didn’t have many choices,” he explained later. “A tiara is a bit feminine.”
Iman could have easily picked up “crowd favorite” for her speech introducing fashion award winner Michael Kors, which had everyone in stitches. “Thank you, Vera Wang, Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar de la Renta and all the other designers who told me, ‘Oh my god, you look more beautiful and younger than ever.’ But ladies, don’t kid—getting older is a b–ch,” she said. Happily for her, “[Kors’] stories speak to a jet-set lifestyle where everyone is sun-kissed—check—superchic—check, check—and full of confidence—triple check,” she said, to much laughter.
The evening wrapped up before 11 o’clock. “Oscar is hosting the after party—at the Le Sexy J’Adore,” announced host Simon Doonan. “Good night.”