Last night, just as Madison Avenue began to swell with eager fashionistas and fashionistos for Fashion’s Night Out, The Observer ducked out of the crowded street and into the Valentino boutique. Yes, there was the extravaganza at Bergdorf’s and the trick-or-treat carnival down in Soho, but that didn’t matter. At Valentino, it was karaoke night.
As soon as we arrived, we ran into Carlos Souza, famed jeweler and vice president of PR for the legendary fashion house, who asked us if we were planning to sing. We quickly declined, but had to ask, why karaoke in the first place?
“Karaoke is so popular,” said Mr. Souza, in his charming Brazilian accent. “It really brings people together and puts them in a good mood”.
But, of course, there was more to it than that. It turns out that Valentino himself has a penchant for karaoke. When Anne Hathaway — or “Annie,” as Mr. Souza calls her — visited Valentino on his boat in Capri this summer, she brought him a karaoke machine as a gift, and Valentino became enthralled.
“During the holidays, people were looking around, asking ‘Where is Valentino?’ He was alone in the salon singing karaoke by himself!”
And since the Stiller Foundation, Ben Stiller’s charity organization, emphasizes the education and welfare of children, they decided to make it a family karaoke night. Indeed, family was prevalent at the boutique, as parents and their children (from babies to adults) joined together over drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
On display was the Valentino “T-Shirt Couture for the Stiller Foundation” signature T-Shirt, a nude stretch jersey with lace detail, made for both women and young girls. Half of the t-shirt’s sales will go to the Stiller Foundation.
Finally, after a few glasses of champagne, the invitees were ready to sing.
“What’s up what’s up?” boomed Tracy Morgan, our Master of Ceremonies for the evening, over the loudspeaker. “You know what karaoke stands for? In Japanese, it means the real singer’s not here yet.”
Mr. Morgan did a great job of hyping up the crowd before introducing Mr. Souza, who sang “The Girl from Ipanema” with a teenage girl in braces and facepaint. While they sang, we took the opportunity to catch up with Vogue social editor Chloe Malle (a former Observer writer) who was waiting for her mom, Candice Bergen, to arrive.
“I feel like [Fashion Week] is the real hurricane that everyone has to get ready for,” Ms. Malle said. Everyone’s like ‘Are you ready for next week?’ You have to batten down the hatches.”
So how has she prepared for the storm ahead? “I tried to sleep for 48 hours. Now I’m good to go.”
Bergen then arrived, sharply dressed in a black flared-leg pantsuit with a FNO t-shirt to match her daughter’s. “I have to wear it,” said Malle, “and my mother wanted one because they’re very soft.”
So with their matching outfits, The Observer wondered, could we expect them to sing a duet?
Ms. Malle was enthusiastic about singing, Ms. Bergen less so. “I’m going to try very hard not to,” Ms. Bergen said with a grin. So Ms. Malle was to sing on behalf of the family, and she decided to go with Aretha Franklin. “It’s unspecified which song yet, but I said any number would be appropriate. It’s far too bold but that’s never stopped me before.”
Some minutes later, Malle stepped behind the microphone and belted out “Respect.”
Around then, Valentino himself made a brief appearance.
Unfortunately, he didn’t sing.
We weren’t disappointed, though. Former Fugees member Pras showed up, and joined Morgan at the karaoke machine to sing “Killing Me Softly” and “Ghetto Superstar.” Pras rapped his verses while Mr. Morgan sung the chorus. The 30 Rock star mis-sung some of the words, but hey, the guy does a great Mya impression! The audience, both the parents and their teenagers, sang along.
Suddenly, Natalie Cole arrived, surprising everyone, and sang “Unfortgettable” for the crowd.
But amidst all the karaoke fun, Ben Stiller was nowhere to be seen. He and wife Christine Taylor arrived just as the party was coming to an end, and were instantly swarmed by photographers.
Morgan left his emcee duties to come say hello. By now, his navy sweater had come off, and he had soaked through his undershirt with sweat.
Hors d’oeuvres were gone and the guests began to clear out. As we made to leave — other parties, of course — Mr. Souza grabbed us.
“Write that it was the funniest party ever,” he said.
We think he meant ‘funnest.’ We’re still not sure — his accent, as we said, was a bit strong. But either way, Mr. Souza was right. Karaoke does bring people together.