Rachel Hunter

<STRONG>CELEBRATING MANOLO AND PALS</STRONG>: <STRONG>Manolo Blahnik</STRONG>, <STRONG>Linda Evangelista</STRONG>, <STRONG>Jay-Z</STRONG> and <STRONG>Mariah Carey</STRONG> were among the attendees at The Black Alumni of Pratt's 14th annual...

CELEBRATING MANOLO AND PALS: Manolo Blahnik, Linda Evangelista, Jay-Z and Mariah Carey were among the attendees at The Black Alumni of Pratt’s 14th annual “Celebration of the Creative Spirit” benefit dinner on Friday night at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Blahnik, who received the Pinnacle in Art & Design Award from supermodel friend and fan Evangelista, helped welcome the next generation of designers — literally. During the cocktail hour, the famous shoe designer was flocked by a hoard of female Pratt design students. One audacious young lady in particular approached the designer, declaring she wanted to be “just like him,” and then handed Blahnik her portfolio of designs — which he eagerly reviewed. Perhaps the commotion took some of the spotlight off the designer, who admitted he doesn’t love being the center of attention. “I don’t like these occasions. I’m feeling neurotic and in a state.”

QUINTESSENTIALLY HOLLYWOOD: Hollywood may be notoriously casual even when it comes to red-carpet affairs, but that didn’t keep friends of Ben Elliot from ribbing him for apparently being so underdressed in his tailored Dunhill suit and rainbow-speckled tie at Wednesday night’s party to launch the Los Angeles outpost of Quintessentially, the concierge service he cofounded in London five years ago. Pal Jeff Klein, owner of the Argyle Hotel, opened the entire lounge and pool area to the packed party, cohosted by Asprey, Jaguar and Bon Badir Jets. “As if I always go around in white tails,” Elliot mused loudly over the DJ mix of all Brit rock hits (although he is the nephew of Camilla Parker Bowles). His London friends at the party — who included Tamara Mellon, Rachel Hunter and expat actors Alex Kingston and Vinnie Jones — may need to get used to seeing their perfectly natty chum in more local wares. With the opening of the new office near the CBS studios on Fairfax, Elliot has decided to spend half his living time in Los Angeles, and the other, in New York.

This story first appeared in the May 10, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

SWITCHING CAMPS: After rounding up the social set to help Gilles Mendel establish himself beyond his Madison Avenue digs, Lauren Davis is moving on to Carolina Herrera. As of June 1, she will be vice president of communications for Carolina Herrera New York, reporting to Mario Grauso, president of Puig Fashion. In her new gig, she will handle editorial, celebrities and special events.

VALLEY GIRLS: Hostesses Allison Sarofim, Alexandra Lind Rose and Olivia Chantecaille helped Alvin Valley ring up $257,000 in sales at his first trunk show last week at Barna in the Giraffe Hotel in New York. Guests included Annie Churchill, BJ Blum, Joelle O’Reilly Hyland, Elizabeth Loomis, Janice Savitt, Susan Shin and Diane Vaughn.

En route to lunch with her husband to celebrate their third anniversary, Tinsley Mortimer stopped by long enough to order an $11,385 reversible mink jacket trimmed with leather and feathers. It’s customary for third anniversary gifts to be made with leather, she explained. Rena Sindi called the organizers as she was leaving the Central Park Conservancy luncheon to ask them to hold off on packing up until she got there. Once she got to the Giraffe, she picked up two of the day’s bestsellers — a tiered chantilly lace gown in emerald at $4,335 and a multilayered pleated chiffon halter gown at $7,425. The third hot item was a $1,595 hand-beaded top.

Next month, Vanessa Getty will do the honors for Valley, hosting a luncheon in San Francisco.

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