“This is a tough crowd to touch,” said director Baz Luhrmann, straining to take in the swell of fashion and society folk filing into Brasserie 8 1/2 following a special screening of “Moulin Rouge” Tuesday night. “I think we touched them. Not a lot — but a little. Cannes’s going to seem easy by comparison.”
If the high kicks of the can-can and the splendor of Catherine Martin’s Belle Epoque costumery weren’t enough to lure the multitudes, there was also the opportunity to catch Nicole Kidman in her first appearance post-Tom — and a chance to bid on a few very serious dresses at the auction during dinner, which was hosted by Kidman and Anna Wintour and benefited the CFDA-Vogue Initiative for AIDS.
With a handful of red-blooded billionaires in the room, the auction began to feel more like a cock fight. Donald Trump duked it out with Kidman over the Helmut Lang until Harvey Weinstein outbid him. In the end, Barry Diller snapped up the dress for $24,000. Meanwhile, the fishtail Oscar de la Renta was anybody’s game.
“It’s made to order, Andre,” the auctioneer reminded a tempted Leon Talley. The crowd also included the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, a newly shorn Olivier Theyskens and Manolo Blahnik, who all flew in for a first glimpse of the film.
“I’m really into that whole high-tech romance thing,” said Galliano.
“I’m going to have to see it 10 times,” added Gaultier. “There were so many ideas in one movie.”
As the party began to thin out, Kidman still had the auction — which raised $118,500 — on her mind.
“Mmmph!” she sniffed, clenching her fists. “I really wanted that Helmut. But he did say he’d make me another one.”
As Kidman and the rest raced to Lotus, Grace Jones closed out the party.
“They were going to use ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ in the movie,” she said, “but the scene got cut. I guess it’s the thought that counts.”