At Tina Brown’s girl-power extravaganza last night, Women in the World 2011, hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Diane Von Furstenberg named her female role model as Rebecca Lolosoli, a woman credited with creating a girls-only village in Kenya.
“I met Rebecca two years ago,” said Ms. Von Furstenburg. “She came to visit me. She told me all about her. She told me how she had to flee her village. So I told her, I have a village too, on the fourth floor.”
Evidently, the designer invited Ms. Lolosoli for some fun in the studio, making jewelery that would later be shown on the spring catwalk and sold in stores. Lolosoli, who was in attendance at the conference, didn’t seem to be having that much fun on the night. The Observer later overheard her throwing a tantrum to her staff-minder, saying she wanted to skip dinner and conversation with Bill Clinton in favor of a night in her hotel room with the remote control.
Elsewhere, air kisses and smoke-blowing abounded. Fresh off the Newsweek-Daily Beast merger, Ms. Brown was all smiles and adjectives: “We’ve assembled so many free-thinking firebrands, social revolutionaries, outside agitators, dangerous rabble-rousers in this theatre tonight that I think we have to take out a whole different insurance policy.”
Substance arrived in the form of Wajeha H. Al-Huwaider, Saudi journalist, and Dalia Ziada, Egyptian author, who talked up a storm on women’s issues in the Middle East.
“Tomorrow is a big day for Saudi Arabia, ” said Ms. Al-Huwaider. “For tomorrow’s protests, they told women to come in the front row because Saudis don’t attack women. We are to protect the men in the back.”
“We never thought it would turn into something so big,” said Ms. Ziada of the Egyptian revolution. “We just decided to go to the streets on Jan. 25 to give the police a hard day.” When they had won, “Our colleagues, the men who had stood beside us the day before, told us ‘go back to your home'; it’s not right to talk about women’s rights now.”
Ms. Brown managed to fit in a gibe at MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who recently pieced together a documentary on Bill Clinton, entitled President of the World. Calling it a “puff piece,” she asked the former president: “Where was he when you needed him?”
Perhaps her sour grapes are the result of being scooped. The release of her book, “The Clinton Chronicles” has been delayed indefinitely while she saves the world one major media take-over at a time.
kclarke [at] observer.com