Sunday evening was not a night for floral prints. Rather, guests including Ashley Olsen, Loulou de la Falaise, Eva Mendes, Leighton Meester, Jared Leto, Natasha Bedingfield and Cynthia Nixon donned their chicest, most minimal greige to honor Calvin Klein’s 40th anniversary at an enormous $5 million bash at the Highline in Manhattan. “Calvin does clean lines and it’s simple,” said Naomi Watts in a body-hugging black number. “I never want to be overwhelmed by a dress.”
“I’m a minimalist,” said Claire Danes, echoing the brand’s mantra. “It’s the quickest way from A to B.”
Halle Berry has been reconnecting with the brand since her “sweetheart [Gabriel Aubry] is ‘Mr. Calvin Klein’ right now,” she said. “It’s clean and classic, and I’ve become more of a minimalist as I’ve gotten older.” But enough about her, she went on, what about her model beau, who appears in the Calvin Klein ad campaign? “It’s really his night. I’m just his date,” she said.
Partygoers, meanwhile, were treated to a preview of the Highline project, which had been transformed into what felt like a serene, lantern-lit pier. “It feels like you can walk right into the Hudson River,” said Kevin Bacon.
Hundreds of white rose bushes lined the walkway, and the fragrance was so overwhelming that some guests wondered if additional rose scent had been pumped through the air. “This is more an art installation than a party,” noted one observer.
Funny he should mention, because there was a deliberate installation on display: James Turrell’s “Two Blues” light exhibit, which was hard to find and puzzling to more than a few partygoers. “I am a perceptionalist,” Turrell said rather cryptically. “I work with perception, and try to do it without too many extraneous things.”
Fortunately, the mood shifted from artistic reverence to energetic revelry once singer Estelle started her surprise set, and began it with a clever tribute: “Start spreading the news,” she crooned, “this Calvin Klein suit is here to stay.”
She was referring to the 40-year Calvin Klein legacy, but this particular affair, produced meticulously by KCD Inc., felt very much like a celebration of Calvin: The Francisco Costa Years. His camp was well represented by celebs like Mendes, Aubry, Olsen and Djimon Hounsou, but where were the Calvin friends from years past — Kate Moss, Mark Wahlberg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Christy Turlington and Natalia Vodianova? Neither co-founder — Klein and his estranged former business partner Barry Schwartz — was there. Schwartz was off buying horses and Kelly Klein was legitimately ill. “I had my dress ready and everything,” she said the following day.
“We never billed it as a retrospective of the past 40 years,” explained a Calvin Klein spokesman. “It was always going to be about the vision of the future. We aren’t a backward looking brand.”
But Brooke Shields, who appeared in a notorious 1980 denim ad and now stars in “Lipstick Jungle,” was there, and wearing Calvin Klein jeans, blouse, jacket and even underwear to boot. Still, even after a few decades, her relationship with the label has changed, too. It’s no longer true that nothing gets between her and her Calvins. “I’ve had two kids,” said the actress. “You fill in the blanks.”
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