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For the last seven months, the fashion flock has been reluctant to celebrate anything in light of the frightening economic and retail climates. During the last round of collections in February, save for a few exceptions like store opening bashes for Giorgio Armani and Matthew Williamson, parties took a nosedive with the economy. “I got really nervous about working less,” recalls Harley Viera-Newton, a popular DJ on the social circuit, who struggled to book gigs last February. “I didn’t know if people were sick of me.”
Viera-Newton wasn’t alone. “The phone wasn’t ringing,” says caterer Mary Giuliani, whose clients include Jessica Seinfeld, Carolina Herrera and Ferragamo.
This story first appeared in the September 10, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But, according to party organizers, there was no other option than to cut back. Calvin Klein dropped its semiannual bash, as did Alexander Wang and, most notably, Marc Jacobs. “When Marc pulls out, everyone follows him. It’s really bad,” Paul Sevigny told WWD at the time.
Now it appears Sevigny’s logic is working in the reverse. Jacobs is indeed hosting a party again this year with a performance by Lady Gaga (though this year, he’s cohosting with Visionaire magazine) and many others have followed suit: Wang’s affair is back on again, as is Calvin Klein’s, and Diane von Furstenberg is hosting three parties during the week including one for Amanda Brooks’ new book, “I Love Your Style,” and another for Brandaid Project’s “Masks and Mirrors” exhibit. “I am always in the mood to celebrate,” says the designer by way of explanation. Other big bashes of the week include a dinner at Monkey Bar for the much-anticipated biopic “Coco Avant Chanel,” cocktails at the MoMA cohosted by Linda Evangelista for Ron Arad, a soiree for the Olsens’ The Row at Bergdorf Goodman, and a benefit at Gucci where Mary J Blige will make an appearance. And those are apart from tonight’s numerous bashes for the citywide (and international) Fashion’s Night Out.
But many are careful to note that while parties have come back, they’re back in a different way. “People have adjusted to a new reality of life,” says Lydia Fenet, who, as director of special events for Christie’s, is organizing several marquee events for the fall, including a 125th anniversary party with Bulgari. “Over-the-top partying has been replaced with more intimate events. It’s a question of looking for strategic partnerships that help generate business instead of events that are purely for entertaining.”
As caterer Giuliani puts it, “Less steak, more pigs in a blanket.”