By  on April 26, 2007

NEW YORK — Nicole Miller marked the 25th anniversary of her business at the Chinatown Bresserie here with celebrity pals and a pitch for planet Earth.

Longtime friends like Candace Bushnell, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Shalom Harlow, Michelle Hicks, Mary Boone and Jay McInerney helped the designer celebrate at a family-style dinner for 200. Cindy Crawford buzzed by around midnight for the after party.

Bud Konheim, one of Miller's biggest fans — who just happens to be her chief executive officer — made light of the quarter-century milestone, joking that Miller was miffed because the party invitations should have been for her 25th birthday. Without missing a beat, he led guests in singing "Happy Birthday" to her.

After words of thanks, Miller shared her concerns about the environment and told guests that a donation had been made to Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization that works to safeguard the Hudson River, its tributaries and the New York City watershed. Kennedy is the group's chief prosecuting attorney. The designer also sent each guest home with Colorado Blue Spruce and Austrian Pine trees to plant, saying, "Make sure you take one. We don't want those trees to go to waste."

Before giving his own environmental talk, Kennedy recalled how ideal weather conditions once got the best of Miller and some friends who had agreed to meet at Miller's then-summer house near the Shelter Island, N.Y., ferry landing before attending a wedding.

"We all had our wedding clothes on, but it was a beautiful day,'' he said. "We all wound up going waterskiing. I really fell in love with Nicole and [her husband] Kim [Taipale] that day."

Kennedy also revealed that he was an early proponent of the skinny tie trend. For years, Kennedy said he bought regular ties and paid a seamstress in Mount Kisco, N.Y., $10 to make each one narrow. "I really felt vindicated because Kim has one on tonight....Now I can go buy them in Nicole's store."

But Kennedy wasn't all jokes and jibes. "This is an industry, by its nature, that can be frivolous, you know, because that's what style is about." Despite feigned jeers from the crowd, he continued, "Nicole has style, but she also knows to differentiate between style and things that are enduring."Earlier, Harlow said she and Miller had kept in touch partly because of the designer's ecofriendly ways. About 10 or 12 years ago, Harlow shot a Nicole Miller campaign with Mario Sorrenti. "Nicole had this fleece made of recycled soda bottles and it was the first time I had ever heard of any designer doing anything recyclable or environmentally friendly,'' she said. "At the time, I didn't know that you could do such things and I liked that she was motivated to do it."

Zac Posen, once a Miller intern, talked about practices he picked up a decade ago. "I perfected her signature — not for checks, for prints," he said. Posen said he also illustrated and sketched wild designs that he planted on Miller's desk each night. "At the end of each week, she would go through them with me. She was so nurturing in that way. Unbelievable."

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