On Tuesday night, Dakota Fanning couldn’t get out a full sentence.
To be fair, it wasn’t entirely her fault. The actress had just entered Café Clover in the West Village when the dinner bell rang. To punctuate the point, a handsome waiter materialized to usher her to her dinner seat. “Oh,” she said, startled. “Thank you…” she said politely.
Attempt number two was equally unsuccessful; the actress had uttered no less than three words, speaking to a reporter, when an iPhone flew out of a nearby attendee’s hand, landing squarely on Fanning’s foot. A pause to examine any damage done — all good. “Inappropriate question!” Fanning’s manager cracked, covering up the blunder with some good old publicist humor.
The question at hand was rather simple: what had drawn Fanning to the dinner? The official purpose of the meal was to mark the launch of the H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection and Conscious Commerce’s new pop-up store in the fast-fashion giant’s Times Square flagship. “When you hear about brands like H&M, which is so accessible, opening up and doing a collaboration with a sustainable fashion, it’s very exciting,” Fanning said, once she was able to. “Fashion and clothing are about feeling good, and it helps you feel better when you know it comes from a good place.”
Nearby, Olivia Wilde, co-owner of Conscious Commerce and cohost for the evening, maneuvered around the packed dining room in a maxidress from the collection, greeting guests — fiancé Jason Sudeikis, whom she planted one on when he arrived, and others she greeted slightly less warmly: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rosario Dawson, Lily Kwong, Chelsea Leyland, Alek Wek, Jennifer Fisher and Lauren Bush Lauren.
It had been a long day of press for Wilde, between her H&M collaboration and promoting “Meadowland,” her Tribeca Film Festival movie, but she showed no signs of fatigue. The actress had her spiel ready to go, delivering it in a manner that only seemed somewhat rehearsed: “I’m excited that we’re able to pair a big company like H&M with so many smaller brands that will now get the exposure and start a conversation about how we buy things. I’m feeling real good about that,” she said. Her business partner, Barbara “Babs” Burchfield, chimed in. “We’ve become the middle child in this situation,” she added. “We’re trying to get everyone to get along, which can be scary. But both businesses need each other. The small brands are excited to get exposure of H&M and H&M is so appreciative to have the swagger of these small brands.”
That socially conscious swagger was well-represented inside the dinner itself — as Wilde was quick to point out, each individually printed menu doubled as plant seeds. As in, bury the menu in soil, add water, and enjoy your new parsley or dill plant. “So sick!” exclaimed Dawson, tucking the menu away for future gardening.