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“I am pleased to tell you we have come to the last award of the evening,” said Kerry Washington, before presenting Jean Paul Gaultier with the Superstar prize at Thursday’s Fashion Group International Night of Stars, which honored industry “rulebreakers.”
Pleased indeed — and she wasn’t the only one. The more than four-hour event held at Cipriani 42nd Street dragged on, with a lengthy dinner service and even lengthier speeches (though the award for media was skipped, because honoree Steven Klein bowed out of the evening altogether for prior commitments).
Honoree Patricia Wexler regaled the crowd with tales of when she was age five as if she were in an infomercial; Jennifer Hudson, who introduced honoree André Leon Talley, may have been better off had she sung her remarks, and as for Calvin Tsao, who presented the architecture award to an absent Zaha Hadid, who knows what he was talking about. Poor — or actually very rich — Sandy Weill seemed to forget he was no longer barking in the boardroom as he presented an award to Josie Natori, admonishing Stefano Tonchi with, “Will you be quiet and listen. I’m talking to you.”
“He basically built Citigroup,” said Bergdorf Goodman’s Jim Gold of Weill. “He’s probably used to people listening to him.”
At times the event seemed like a commercial for Barneys New York, what with inductee Howard Socol, introducer Julie Gilhart, and emcee Simon Doonan, who declared this year’s gala “green, sustainable beyond belief.”
Loud applause greeted Alber Elbaz’s award, but he wasn’t about to let all the attention go to his head: “Success, if you smell it, is just fabulous. But don’t drink it, it’ll really kill you.”
Other fashion award winners were Rick Owens, Hussein Chalayan and Tomas Maier of Bottega Veneta, who drew wild cheers and claps when he accepted his award — as much for the brevity of his speech as for the honor. Gaultier seemed to be one of the few to pick up on the room’s vibe: “I will keep it short otherwise I will be a ballbreaker and not a rulebreaker.”
Across town, Bono was getting an honor of his own at the Hammerstein Ballroom, where he brought his wife and kids to accept an award from Keep a Child Alive for his work fighting AIDS in Africa. After the two-and-a-half-hour concert, Sheryl Crow, record honcho Jimmy Iovine, and Washington headed upstairs, where Amy Sacco had built a replica of Bungalow 8. Even with all the celebs, the party’s most dramatic moment was an encounter between Salman Rushdie and his ex-wife Padma Lakshmi. Lakshmi saw him at the after party and threw her arms around him. Minutes later, she walked away, sobbing. A couple of friends consoled her, and she returned to Rushdie. They began kissing, then separated again. “They are not back together,” said one person who knows both of them. “But she misses him.”
Earlier in the day, Donna Karan hosted a ladies lunch at Christie’s, where speaker Hal Rubenstein served his audience the day’s headlines — in terms they could relate to. “California is burning…gas prices cost more than a manicure…and your children’s idols visit rehab more times than you have the Golden Door,” he said, before stressing the importance of Karan’s fashion in today’s world to a group that included Jennifer Creel, Tory Burch, Kelly Bensimon and Caryn Zucker.
On Wednesday night, Marisa Tomei and Ethan Hawke screened their film “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” with the Cinema Society. Regarding her explicit love scene with co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tomei laughed, “I hadn’t done anything like that before. Phil and I thought that it was really weird.”
Meanwhile, an eclectic group of art collectors, actresses and socials trekked to Hunt Slonem’s studio for a party Coach threw celebrating Slonem’s new book “Pleasure Palaces: The Art and Homes of Hunt Slonem.” For Julianne Moore, the evening was a reunion of sorts. “Jeff [Slonim] and I went to homecoming together in high school,” she said, referring to Slonem’s brother, a writer and party reporter. “And the next time I saw him was on a press line.”