Drawing a good crowd has never been an issue for Stella McCartney. It’s in the gene pool. Among those gathered Thursday at Alice Tully Hall to see her honored with the Women’s Leadership Award from the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund were Drew Barrymore, Seth Meyers, Woody Harrelson, Jeff Koons, François-Henri Pinault, Marco Bizzarri, Natalia Vodianova, Kate Upton and her boyfriend Justin Verlander; Lorne Michaels, Yoko Ono, and of course, Sir Paul McCartney and his wife Nancy Shevell. Co-hosted by Hearst Corp., the event raised $1.6 million for Lincoln Center’s 10 resident institutions, including Juilliard, the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. McCartney’s famous friends who couldn’t make it left video tributes, a mix of the heartfelt and humorous begun by Bono: “Stella reached out to a humble male model from the north side of Dublin, a man — a boy — who’d almost given up on his dreams. Yes, I’m talking about me.” Then there were Chrissie Hynde, Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Amy Poehler, Quincy Jones, Doris Day and Chelsea Handler, who joked about how the “vagina part” of her many Stella McCartney pants was prone to rip and said she was too cheap to pay for a plane ticket to New York.
Just kidding! Handler was actually on site at Alice Tully as an emcee of sorts, with nothing but nice things to say about her girl Stella, but some cheap shots for others present and not. “You probably know him better as Lane Bryant founder and lead model,” she said, zinging Harvey Weinstein. To introducing Stella: “I would say break a leg but I don’t want to insult Heather Mills.”
This story first appeared in the November 17, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Was the Friars Club also sponsoring the evening?
Act Two featured Jerry Seinfeld “in conversation” with McCartney. Pairing a fashion designer with a celebrity looks to be the template for this event going forward. Jessica Chastain interviewed Karl Lagerfeld on stage at last year’s gala.
Seinfeld is clearly used to headlining. “Now let’s get to fashion, which is really a subject that interests me,” he deadpanned after opening with a plug for his show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” “My first question about fashion is, ‘What’s the difference what anybody wears, anyway?’” With that, real fashion queries were off the table as Seinfeld let his classic comedy of the mundane dominate the line of questioning, asking hard-hitting questions, such as how McCartney feels about men in extremely interesting socks (she’s not a fan), and why models look so angry. “They storm down that runway like, ‘When I get to the end of this runway, I’m going to give this audience a piece of my mind,’” he said. “Then they stop and glare at us — ‘go to hell with you’ — and then they walk back.”
That drew a “boooo” from improbable heckler and proud smiler Vodianova. “We often smile, at Stella’s shows especially,” she said.
McCartney rolled with the punches. “It wasn’t too serious, which is so nice,” she said at dinner following the interview. “I mean, Jerry is the ultimate professional over there, but I was a little nervous because it’s not really my thing to be honored.” Or roasted.
“We used to be friends with the Seinfelds,” said Sir Paul, taking the stage to present his daughter with the Women’s Leadership Award. “But after tonight, I’m not so sure.”
Ending the entertainment portion of the evening on a more earnest note was Dhani Harrison, son of George, performing Wings’ “Live and Let Die” alongside the SugarTones and students from Juilliard. In tribute to his “big sister,” Harrison tried to have a custom bass drum with Stella emblazoned across it in pink made, but it was delayed in Memphis due to a manhole explosion in front of a FedEx. He DIY’d his own with pink tape.
After that, Stella’s “weird gang” — Harrelson talking Hawaiian property with Olivia Harrison; Ono opposite Cathy Horyn; Luke Evans sandwiched between Helena Christensen and Justine Koons — dined on three courses of vegetarian — not vegan — cuisine. Anyone in need of a lesson on the difference could ask Harrelson, who declined the first course. The tart had dairy.