FASHION’S FORCE FIELD

Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Only in a galaxy far, far away could the makeup of this fashion awards show have seemed plausible.
The Fashion Group International’s annual Night of Stars is generally known to be one of the industry’s more intimate affairs, but Tuesday night’s event went beyond the cosmopolitan, even the global for that matter, and into the universe by putting the stars together in a manner that seemed to defy the constellations.
At one table the worlds of film, television and fashion were intertwined between Academy Award winning director George Lucas, Lisa Ling and Star Jones from ABC’s chat-fest “The View” and eveningwear designer Pamela Dennis. At another, Tom Ford held court between Sophie Dahl and Charlize Theron, while Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas paid homage to the Fendi sisters at another.
Their astronomy provided for some unusual table talk, as Jones demonstrated the capabilities of her new e-mailing Palm Pilot and mobile phone/MP3 player to Lucas, the man behind the “Star Wars” series, who was himself more intrigued by the dynamics of her program.
“How did your boyfriend react when you talked about dating on television?” Lucas asked Ling, referring to the open discussions the anchors have about their personal lives on the air.
“You mean my ex-boyfriend?” Ling replied, then talked about a new interest who had recently agreed to dine with her mother to impress her.
“Do you mind if I ask what your status is now?” Ling asked Lucas.
“I’m single, why do you ask?” he replied.
“Because I think you’d be perfect for my mother,” she said.
It wasn’t exactly what Lucas was after. Rather, the director said he was pleased to be awarded the recognition for the painstaking design efforts that go into the creation of characters, wardrobes and even planetary ethos in each of the “Star Wars” films, something he said his colleagues in Hollywood have overlooked.
Lucas was among the five “star” honorees this year, along with Silvia Fendi for accessories design, Burberry’s Roberto Menichetti for apparel, Bill Cunningham for his photographic journalism for The New York Times and architect David Rockwell.
Ford received FGI’s “superstar” award for his work as creative director of Gucci Group, while Saks Fifth Avenue and its president, Christina Johnson, received the humanitarian award and Avon Products and its president, Andrea Jung, received a “stargazer” award.
“The Fashion Group was very important to me as a young designer in the Eighties,” Ford said before the dinner. “It was before the Internet, and magazines didn’t run very many runway shots then, so we used to go to the Fashion Group’s trend presentations where you could see slides from all over the world.”
Things have changed a bit for Ford, but, he said, “I’m not sure I’m a superstar.” Of course, during his time in New York, while casting his first Yves Saint Laurent collection ad campaign, the designer has had to avoid his new Fifth Avenue Gucci store during operating hours.
“It’s hard for me to go in the store when it’s open,” he said. “There’s a lot of customers who want to say hello.”
As for the ad campaign, Ford said that Kim Peers, a 21-year-old Belgian native who made her debut in the New York shows, will star alongside an as yet uncast male model. Sophie Dahl, meanwhile, made her debut as the face and body of YSL’s Opium fragrance in September.
“I was thrilled they asked me to do that,” Dahl said. “And I knew that the nudity bit was the deal from the beginning.”
Theron, another of Ford’s tablemates, said she adores Gucci, “because it’s feminine and designed for women. Gucci makes women look like we have bodies. Tom’s a human being. He’s very sensitive and charming, and on top of that, he’s a great designer.”
Zeta-Jones was there to support Fendi, decked out in “head-to-toe Fendi,” she said, wearing a black gown modeled this month by Alek Wek from the spring runway show; although the $275,000 necklace of 144 carats’ worth of table-cut Indian diamonds set in yellow gold that she was wearing came from Fred Leighton.
“I’m a die-hard Fendi handbag user and abuser,” she said. “I started out with a petite croissant, the kind you can fit your lipstick into, and then it was on to the baguette. Now, I have progressed to the mama baguette.”
That would be a custom-made blue and peach canvas Fendi diaper bag, made in honor of the birth of her son with Douglas three months ago.
“When I take my son in Central Park, these days, women stop, they coo, then their eyes go to my Fendi diaper bag,” she said. “All the other women look at me with envy.”
Carla Fendi, accepting on behalf of her niece, Silvia Fendi, who is design director for accessories, said the award marked a milestone in the family history.
“Our father told us when we were little that the Fendi name would be famous some day,” she said. “We asked him why, and he said, ‘I don’t know, but it’s a good name.”‘
Stella Tennant wore a Junya Watanabe gown to the event, though her allegiance was with Burberry, where she designs a small collection of children’s wear.
“It’s been an interesting project for me,” she said. “I didn’t realize before how long it took to actually make a single item.”
Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, presented Menichetti’s award, creating an analogy from her adolescence in England, when “Burberry was respected at the same level as the Queen Mother….Then three years ago, Rose Marie Bravo took the helm of Burberry and things have really changed. Forget bulky mass and endless drizzle, now there are motocross jackets and suddenly it’s Prince William.”
Cunningham received the warmest reception of the evening — even Ford said the photographer was the event’s real “superstar.” In a written address from Brooke Astor, he was lauded for a “smile that makes a person feel extraordinary, whether they are or not.”
But back in the ongoing chat between Ling and Lucas, who had just finished filming the fifth film in the “Star Wars” series, the focus turned to an odd splint the director was wearing on his index finger. Turns out he had snapped a tendon while pulling on his socks recently, and will have to wear the cast for two months.
“I keep telling him he should come up with a more dramatic story,” said Sophia Coppola, who was presenting Lucas with his award. “Tell them you were saving someone’s life in a helicopter, or something.”
“No, that was Harrison Ford,” Lucas said. “I’m not Harrison.”
By the time Star Jones asked about the injury, Lucas had his story straight.
“I was directing,” he said. “You know, directors are always pointing, and I just pointed too hard.”

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