LOS ANGELES — “I’m as nervous as a teenager,” admitted Gucci’s Frida Giannini Wednesday night at the dinner and runway show to benefit Children’s Action Network and Westside Children’s Center. The lithe designer stood in the driveway of the new Bel-Air mansion of Michael and Eva Chow, designed by Mr. Chow himself.
“It took four years to build, though tonight’s event certainly helped push things along,” said Eva Chow. Just days after the Chows moved in, the Gucci team converged on the property to construct a replica of the Milan runway in their backyard. Co-hosts Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Adrien Brody, Charlize Theron and Jessica Capshaw helped snare a crowd that included Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Emmy Rossum, Jessica Biel, Zooey Deschanel, Elisha Cuthbert, Patrick Dempsey, Laura Dern, Melissa George, Evangeline Lilly, Alicia Keys, Drew Barrymore, Eve, Topher Grace and Serena Williams.
As Gucci-clad guests filtered through the cavernous limestone galleries and into the candlelit dining room, many stopped to ogle the art collection. “There’s a Basquiat at one end of the room and a Schnabel at the other, not bad,” marveled Capshaw.
Wonders didn’t cease throughout the five hour-plus long evening. “Is that Trish Goff? Cool!” exclaimed Jimmy Fallon during the show. Grammy winners Stevie Wonder, Keys and Eve made late appearances, but no one wanted to upstage Ben Harper, who performed an acoustic set on the roof. “One more! One more!” trilled Jeremy Piven, who was like a kid in a candy store amid all the ladies (he zeroed in on a tipsy Lynn Collins by night’s end).
Giannini, meanwhile, watched Harper’s performance with tears in her eyes. “This was the first CD my husband ever bought me,” she said. “To see all these beautiful celebrities so natural and so sincere is something I’ll never forget.”
Earlier in the week, another designer hit town when Donna Karan made her first official West Coast appearance in a dozen years at Tuesday’s benefit luncheon at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus for the Step Up Women’s Network. After lunch and a runway presentation of the spring 2006 collection, Karan found herself plucking pieces off a nearby rack for guests like Lisa Eisner, Tracey Ross, Mimi Rogers, Carol Bayer Sager and Step Up founder Kaye Popofsky Kramer.
Karan’s pal Teri Hatcher, whom the designer dressed for the 2004 Golden Globes, admitted to a girl crush: “I love how she can come up with gowns that are glamorous, edgy and feminine — that’s not an easy combination to achieve and Donna does it better than anyone.”