NEW YORK — The line snaked around the block as invited guests waited patiently to help Brooks Brothers celebrate its 185th anniversary last week.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that NBC’s Katie Couric was co-host of the event, along with Brooks owner Claudio Del Vecchio. The celebration benefited the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance, a cause championed by Couric, whose husband, Jay Monahan, died of the disease.
It even drew New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who proclaimed it Brooks Brothers Day in the city.
Brooks created a special tie and scarf for the event, with 20 percent of the proceeds earmarked for the charity. Couric dressed up a man-tailored blue pinstriped pantsuit by using the tie as a belt.
Jazz great Wynton Marsalis performed at the party, and the store transformed its selling floors into distinct dining experiences with specialties from six restaurants — Aureole, Michael Jordan’s, Blue Smoke, 21, Nathan’s and Noche — offered to the 1,800 guests. While munching on hot dogs, spare ribs or white chocolate mousse, partygoers viewed the historic installations on each floor, which were designed to bring to life the retailer’s newly published historic epic: Generations of Style.
Addressing the crowd, Del Vecchio sang the praises of “an American institution that would come to define the classic American style of dress.” Privately, he said the party was really for the employees of Brooks Brothers. “Look at their faces and how proud they are. This is their day. Nothing else is important; it’s just marketing.”