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The sky was the limit Thursday night when Qatar Airways threw a bash at Jazz at Lincoln Center to promote its new service between capital city Doha and New York. Hedge fund billionaires, celebs and jet-setting socials were treated to bowls of caviar, cases of Dom Pérignon, a lively 45-minute performance by Diana Ross (complete with costume change) and freebie iPod nanos emblazoned with the airline’s logo. So what if few of the guests even knew where Qatar is?
“We almost went there once,” claimed Peter Sarsgaard.
“No, we almost went to Dubai,” his fiancée Maggie Gyllenhaal corrected him.
“Close enough, right?” Sarsgaard answered.
Kind of — Qatar (pronounced “cutter” if you’re a Brit, “ka-tar” if you’re American) juts out into the Persian Gulf on a peninsula about 250 miles west of Dubai. But regardless of geography, guests found it worth their while to feign some interest in the locale. As Chloë Sevigny put it, “It’s always good to get in with the airlines.”
After a lobster dinner, Ross took to the stage in full sequined gowns and metallic platform shoes (“must be leftover from ‘The Wiz,'” said one guest). Her Motown hits inspired Christine and Steve Schwarzman to slow dance and Gayle King, Ann Dexter-Jones, Allison Sarofim and Julianne Moore to bop around like teenagers. The audience was so inspired that, just before stashing the Qatar Airways linen napkins in their purses as souvenirs (what, the nanos weren’t enough?), they grabbed peonies from the Colin Cowie-designed centerpieces and tossed them on stage for the diva.
The Middle East was also the hot topic downtown at the inaugural Afghan Hands benefit. The white Chelsea gallery space at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. was transformed into a bazaar — only this one was hawking such wares as red-carpet dresses worn by Jessica Biel. The charity, which provides employment for Afghani women in workshops where they create intricately embroidered shawls, was founded by Neutrogena cosmetic science expert Matin.
Claire Danes, his client, was busy picking out scarves to buy, alongside her boyfriend Hugh Dancy. “They’re great accent pieces,” said the “Evening” star, though the inclement weather had some guests using their shawls more as raincoats than accessories.
Across the pond on Tuesday, Stephen Webster unveiled his new men’s collection for De Beers, called Burning Rocks, with a night of offbeat poetry and rock music (courtesy of Mick Jones‘ aptly named band Carbon/Silicon) at London’s Bloomsbury Ballroom.
Webster gathered a crowd who included Tracey Emin, Kelly Hoppen, Amanda Wakeley, Katie Turner and punk poet John Cooper Clarke, who entertained guests with some colorful verse.
Earlier, London’s socials had warmer climes on their mind when Rena Sindi turned the Knightsbridge restaurant Mocotó into a corner of the Caribbean, complete with palm trees, mojitos and a steel band, to launch the St. Regis Resort & Residences at Temenos Anguilla. Guests Allegra and Ashley Hicks, Phoebe Philo, Max Wigram and Robert Hersov eschewed strict British dress codes for the night. “It’s all about barefoot glamour,” said Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, who hosted the event with her husband Paul, the resort’s developer. “You definitely don’t get dinner jackets in the Caribbean.”