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Sometimes the whole designer-celebrity connection is tenuous at best, but once in a while there’s more synergy than you’d expect. Stella McCartney and Kate Hudson have such a tight bond that when the designer called to ask what the actress would be wearing to present her an award at the Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars benefit on Thursday night, the response, “Your suit,” was sufficient enough that McCartney turned up wearing a trench in the exact same black taffeta fabric.

“We didn’t mean to, but I guess great minds think alike,” said McCartney, whose noticeable pregnancy merited the same kind of press attention as the presence of superstar honoree Giorgio Armani (whose dates were Michelle Pfeiffer, Martin Scorsese and Usher).

There were some other deceptively strange bedfellows in the crowd — Julie Andrews turned out to honor Target (which sponsored a production of “The Boyfriend” she directed in Sag Harbor) and Gretchen Mol presented to architect Billie Tsien (who is Mol’s mother-in-law). But the most outrageous pairing belonged to Marc Jacobs, who invited Lil’ Kim as his escort, disguising her in a conservative red dress complete with ruffles. She looked downright respectable. That is, until she opened her mouth and let out a squeal as she presented to “my friend, Marc.”

“When he’s in heaven, he’ll be sewing my clothes,” she said.

As absurd as Lil’ Kim can be, you have to give her props for embracing the fashion world with such enthusiasm.

“I think I was born in Bloomingdale’s or something,” she said after the awards. “Seriously, my mom has worked in every department store there is.”

Jacobs, who, according to the rapper, does a “mean Lil’ Kim impersonation,” returned the compliment: “What I admire most about creative people is having something to say and being fearless about saying it.” Ingrid Sischy also does a good impersonation, but that of a chicken, specifically one belonging to Helmut Lang, whom she introduced by reading a note from his pets (Lang owns 13 chickens and one rooster). “Cheep, cheep, cheep. Cock-a-doodle-doo,” Sischy sang, which was apparently payback for the time Lang stood up the CFDA and left Sischy to accept an award on his behalf.

This story first appeared in the November 1, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Armani’s camp of celebrities kept to themselves for most of the night, although Pfeiffer and Scorsese delivered a touching introduction to the designer. Pfeiffer recalled how Armani had contacted her after “Scarface.” “He saw that film as a ‘fashion moment,’ while I was thinking that, because I had starved myself for six months, he figured I could fit into sample sizes,” she said.

Seated between the designer and the actress, Usher discovered his head was spinning from the experience. Asked about a startling diamond pin he wore in the shape of a single quill, he had to make a call on his cell phone to find out it was from Fred Leighton. “You can’t imagine the conversation that’s going on between acting and fashion,” he said, ducking out for a moment. “I’m looking forward to using some of what I’m learning here tonight. Fashion is something that artists naturally evolve into. Acting is a priority for me right now — and making sure I’m in the right place at the right time.”
— Eric Wilson

FORD ON THE ROAD: If the Hollywood thing doesn’t work out for Tom Ford, he might consider running for office. He showed the poise of a consummate politician at the sold-out book signing in Beverly Hills for his signature tome at Barneys New York Thursday night, scrawling his John Hancock on books, Gucci handbags and YSL platforms; shaking hands and making small talk with gaga fans, even posing with a baby for snapshots by camera-phone.

And despite a dinner party at one of his favorite local haunts, La Dolce Vita, with about 60 of his famous friends and hosted by GQ editor in chief Jim Nelson, Ford stayed beyond the two-hour scheduled event at Barneys in order to meet with every last one of the 600-plus visitors. “It wouldn’t be right otherwise,” Ford said later as he nursed a vodka tonic on the rocks. “They bought the book and waited so long.”

Indeed, they began lining up as early as noon, some six hours before Ford’s prompt arrival. “Who knew?” asked a shocked Julie Gilhart, Barneys vice president and fashion director, as she scanned the scene. The Wilshire store was wiped out of its 400 regular-edition tomes within 90 minutes of the event starting at $350 a pop. More than one store rep mumbled buyers hadn’t realized the potential and could’ve sold twice that number.

Ford dashed over to the party just as the majority of his pals — Heather Graham and Chris Weitz, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Bruce Weber, Paul Jasmin, Brigette Romanek, Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shaye Smith, and Kate Bosworth and her mother, Patty Bosworth — sauntered in. There was already a Tom — as in Hanks — on hand, not to mention Stevie Wonder.

“What is he doing here?” gasped a happily surprised Tracee Ellis Ross when Wonder, who she’s known since she was a child, entered with his wife, Kai Morris, who was abuzz about her new fashion line.

Ford loves turning his circle on to quirky places like La Dolce Vita. Another haunt of his is Diaghilev, a Russian hideaway complete with live harp and a questionable crowd. And certainly no one is more cool old school than Robert Evans, who had Gina Gershon’s ear for a stretch — or was it the other way around?

More than one guest wondered aloud whether the steak-and-martini m.o. of the Italian restaurant was going to send vegan Alicia Silverstone running. It didn’t. Nor did the cigarettes Lisa Eisner kept threatening to burn brightly. The two women were, along with Ford, among the last of the two dozen guests to leave the party well after 1 a.m.
— Rose Apodaca Jones

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