“I should read my New Yorker,” said Gita Mehta, wife of Knopf czar Sonny. She was resplendent in red and gold robes beside her husband in the screening room at the Tribeca Grand Hotel on Monday night for a viewing of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.
The evening’s hostess, Diane von Furstenberg, was two rows down. That day, a profile of Ms. von Furstenberg had appeared in The New Yorker. “Are you pleased with it?” Ms. Mehta asked.
Ms. von Furstenberg shrugged coolly.
Lauren Bush arrived with David Lauren, Gemma Ward with Jessica Gomes, Celerie Kemble and Boykin Curry, and a towering André Leon Talley.
“Hey, what do you think this is?” Mr. Talley said to Fran Lebowitz, who held onto a flap of his charcoal-gray cape to inspect it and would not let go. “This is not a fashion show.”
Lights out. Salman Rushdie moved not an inch throughout the film’s 123 minutes, save to draw his ear closer to the lips of his wife, Padma Lakshmi Rushdie, when at the 30th minute or so, she whispered, “It’s great.”
“So far,” Mr. Rushdie whispered back.
The film follows Marie Antoinette from her teenage beginnings as an Austrian noble wedded off to the French Dauphin to keep peace between the two countries. Such an upheaval—she hadn’t a choice but to become a literal party queen. Wonderful segments of Bacchic excess set to rock music. “Ooh, keef!” whispered Ms. Mehta at the sight of a pipe being passed from mouth to mouth.
Near the halfway mark, Ms. Lebowitz, on her way back from the ladies’ room, tripped up the aisle with a mild thud. Half an hour after that, Ms. Rushdie discreetly flicked a light on her wristwatch. Mr. Mehta unwrapped a candy and popped it into his mouth.
The group later reconvened at Ms. von Furstenberg’s for dinner. “I thought there was too much champagne,” said Barry Diller of the onscreen action. “But I liked it.”
“We were there!” said Rufus Albemarle, the earl. His ancestor back in the day served as British ambassador to Louis XIV’s Versailles. Lucky for him, he got out before the plebes started wigging out.
Guests dined at four long, whitewashed picnic tables. There was a back lounge with a stocked bar, of which not many made use. When she’d finished her meal, Ms. von Furstenberg made the rounds, thanking her friends for coming, generally catching up. She squeezed in with Mr. Albemarle, Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, two young architects who are designing Ms. von Furstenberg’s new headquarters. A lengthy, hushed conversation ensued. Across the table, Ike Ude, the expressive, Nigerian-born editor of aRude magazine, whipped out a camera. “Diane! Diane!” he called to her. She did not hear. “Diane,” Mr. Albemarle said and nudged her gently. Ms. von Furstenberg turned, looking distracted, but once she saw the camera, she tossed her hair and smiled.
Later, she posed with Mr. Ude. A friend lurked behind. “Ne me touche pas!” she snapped at him.
“I just love that time period,” said the philanthropist Anne Bass. “Even though everyone knows the ending, I can remember staying up late into the night to finish a wonderful biography of Marie Antoinette.” Ms. Coppola’s interpretation, she said, offered uncommon insights: “Marry the man that you love.”
Last week, the designer Vivienne Westwood used her Fashion Week currency to host a screening at Soho House of Robert Redford and Michael Apted’s 1992 documentary Incident at Oglala.
These days the flamboyant style icon, now 65, is passionate about the case of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of killing two F.B.I. agents during a 1975 shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
“He is innocent. It’s a fact. And he’s been sitting in jail for 30 years now,” said Ms. Westwood. She became convinced of Mr. Peltier’s innocence after a “Belgian man” wrote her a letter last year. She said she plans to use Peltier-related imagery for her spring fashion line.
She is working on a petition. So far she’s already signed up the likes of Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney.
Ms. Westwood was very radical chic in black pumps and a white “dentist-inspired” jumpsuit-type garment. One of her designer tees, emblazoned with the word “LIBERTY,” showed from between her lapels. Her hair was a fiery henna. A little blue pin in the shape of a man’s genitals with wings adorned her collar.
“Isn’t it great? I designed the flying penis as a sort of symbol. It stands for freedom,” said Ms. Westwood.
At around 8:30, after delivering a heartfelt introduction to Incident to the 20 or so people scattered about the screening room, Ms. Westwood made a quick tour of the reception room, which was packed—hello? open bar!—with an odd mix of models, fashion types, transvestites, publicists and a handful of Leonard Peltier diehards.
Michael Kuzma, Mr. Peltier’s lawyer, gave the hostess his cell phone so that his client could convey his appreciation from the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Penn. Ms. Westwood said that Mr. Peltier’s phone voice was “earnest” and “very matter-of-fact.”
A model approached to express what a fan she was and to reminisce about old times. “I was in one of your shows,” gushed the towering brunette. “Do you remember me? You tied a bow around my neck just before sending me down the runway?” Ms. Westwood did not remember.
Ms. Westwood went up on the rooftop patio for a cigarette. There was a cool breeze.
“America is the biggest problem facing the world right now,” Ms. Westwood said. “If you want to cure the world’s problems, I think the first thing we have to do is stop America.” She said that the U.S. is spreading a culture of violence, greed and hatred across the globe. Also: wiping out well-loved, altruistic princesses from time to time.
“I’m convinced the C.I.A. was responsible for Diana’s death.”
Whyever would they want to take out the Princess of Wales?
“Because she was so loved and so powerful and she wanted to change things.”
She said she planned to petition President Bush directly for the release of Mr. Peltier. She isn’t a fan. “Well, if I were in the same room with him, I wouldn’t try to shoot him, but I certainly wouldn’t care if someone else did. I wouldn’t care at all.”
Another model came over to speak with Ms. Westwood. “I feel like I’ve been watching your career forever,” said the girl, also tall, of course, but with a blond crew cut. “I just wanted to say how much I admire you and appreciate your work.”
Had the young lady seen the movie about Mr. Peltier? “No,” she said. “It looked a little heavy for my taste.”
The Last Fashion Story
“This is my first show—I haven’t had a chance to go anywhere, I’ve been too busy doing my own show,” said home-fashion madame Martha Stewart.
She was waiting patiently for the lights to dim at the Cynthia Rowley show in Gotham Hall last Thursday.
There was a waiting line of no fewer than five reporters snaked in front of her. The photographers were popping.
“I’m anxious to see Cynthia’s collection, based on the home, based on wicker,” Ms. Stewart said. “Did you know that today? Yeah, wicker! She should have had wicker chairs.” She gave a look of conspiratorial closeness. “Ha, ha! I’m not criticizing! But then I look around and I want to find all the wicker.
“But she did give us a lovely boxed lunch, a basket lunch, which I thought is pretty nice,” Ms. Stewart allowed.
Jaime King was talking real estate with a man on the catwalk. “In L.A. I kept my apartment, just so I didn’t feel like I was going to go into shock or something, you know?” she said. “Like you feel like you have a place to come back to …. ”
“Yah, yah, yah, totally, totally, exactly!” said the interlocutor. “Yeah, my friend just did the same thing. She has two kids and they kept their house in Long Island, and now I think they’re going to sell it. They moved out of their apartment in New York.”
Ms. King, an actress, is intimate with the world of fashion. Her successful teenage career as a model dovetailed into a debilitating heroin addiction, which she finally kicked after her boyfriend, fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti (Mario’s kid brother), OD’d on the stuff in 1997.
“I was at the Vanity Fair party,” Ms. King said about her activities the night before. “I live in L.A., Beverly Hills.” Is it a joy? “I love it.” Which street? “I don’t want to say, ’cause I don’t want people to know.”
“I just flew in yesterday from California,” said Zoe Saldana. “I’ve been hectic and I’m unfortunate to be missing Fashion Week, but work is work.” Her new film, Haven, with Orlando Bloom, was premiering. “I’m very picky, and I have a series of designers that I stick to for a long period of time, and I sort of create a very loyal bond. Because it has to do with respect. Besides Cynthia—Bill Blass, Rebecca Taylor. So far, those are the ones I’ve been using this year.”
Don’t call Thelma Golden a clotheshorse. “I would hope I’d be known as an art lover or a connoisseur,” the starry-eyed curator said, front row. “I am a complete tourist in the Fashion Week thing. I just go to a few shows—of friends, designers that I love and admire as artists, like Cynthia Rowley, like Tracy Reese, like Peter Som. And it’s fun because it’s not my world. I mean, all these people are working and I’m just here. This is my lunch hour today.”
She took a bite out of her prosciutto-and-ricotta-filled tortilla, which the Rowley people had served.
“I think Lance is happier now, in some respects,” ’N Sync heartthrob JC Chasez said. His former bandmate Lance Bass recently clarified his sexuality to the world. (“I’m Gay,” blared People’s Aug. 7 cover line over a picture of Mr. Bass wearing a blue dress shirt and his best “This is me!” face.)
Mr. Chasez was hanging tough with some bros around midnight at Marquee in the middle of last week; it was L.A.-based boutique Satine’s turn to throw a Fashion Week party. The former boy-band member, now 30, had come from the Bagley Mischka show. He enjoys fashion and thinks this Fashion Week was particularly “well-executed.”
Back on Mr. Bass: “You know, now he can go on with his life and not have to deal with people asking the question all the time,” said Mr. Chasez, who wore a pair of green plaid pants deftly tempered by a conservative gray Hugo Boss cardigan over a white oxford and black tie—Windsor knot, extra fat. “So I guess it’s a good thing in that way.”
He was full of qualifiers like that. Mr. Chasez was appalled by the insensitive and relentless behavior of the media that forced Mr. Bass’ hand.
In his coming-out article, Mr. Bass, 27, said that he had decided to speak out because the rumors “were really were starting to affect my daily life. Now it feels like it’s on my terms.”
“It’s unfortunate that he found himself in a position where he felt obligated to tell the world about his sexuality,” said Mr. Chasez. Mr. Chasez tabloid-famously dated Eva Longoria.
“He was being probed, you know,” Mr. Chasez said. “That’s not right. What happens in your bedroom is your business and no one else’s.”
Career-wise, Mr. Chasez was eager to promote his as-of-yet-untitled solo album, which comes out early next year, and his new single, called “Until Yesterday,” which officially drops, as they say, on Oct. 30. The song, he told reporters earlier this month, is about dealing with “your girlfriend getting knocked up with another man’s baby.”
Genny on the Block
On Thursday, Sept. 14, The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story, penned by chief fashion writer Teri Agins, about Genevieve Jones, who, the article purported, ascended through utterly mystified means to the status of fashion “It” girl.
There was nothing damning about the piece—disregarding, of course, its very premise—except for the revelation that Ms. Jones, fresh-faced and bouncy, is not, as she claimed to be, 27, but 31.
The next day, Women’s Wear Daily reported that Ms. Jones had fled New York for the relative calm of Baton Rouge, where she grew up. No reports on when she is expected back.
The Transom ran into Ms. Jones back in May, at the Whitney Contemporaries Art Party.
She was wearing a dress that matched the silvery sequins that were strewn all over the floor. “I’m wearing Calvin Klein,” she told us. “Francisco”—Costa, the label’s designer—“picked it out for me. So, I love it. I love it. I’m not giving it back.”
Was it on loan? “No, yah,” she said, cryptically. “They lent it to me, but they gave me a lot of stuff, so it’s O.K.”
Well, the fashion world does love you, Ms. Jones. She looked away with a shy roll of the eyes.
“I am very grateful,” she said. “I don’t take anything for granted. I feel lucky and I’m grateful.”
Word games! She was asked: “I think a party like this is great because young, fashionable, successful people can get together and do what? Finish the sentence.”
“Get together and rage!” She laughed. “Crash! Party! In the truest sense of the word, in, like, 1980’s style.”
Wait, 80’s style? How old were you in the 80’s—like, 3?
“No, I’m 27,” she, apparently, lied. “I’m old. I was precocious since I was, like, 4 and thought I was, like, 30,” she said. “I’m from here, but I grew up in Louisiana. And it was a really great environment. Not, like, as bad as you think. My dad’s from Wales; my mom’s from Trinidad. So, I mean, I still had a really eclectic cultural upbringing, you know. The whole thing was surreal …. But, you know, my parents always said, ‘Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself!’”
What did she think of the matrix of high fashion and high society?
“Yah, no, I don’t get caught up,” she said. “I mean, you see me out, you see me dressed up, that’s what I really love to do. You know, the group that people clump me into, I don’t even know those girls. Like, I do my thing, I bring my posse with me and I just have fun. And, you know, I’m happy that I get attention because I make a slight effort, sort of.”
“But fashion’s always been my thing. It’s a great excuse to just get dressed up and have a great time. It’s a great atmosphere. They put a lot of work into the parties—all the drinks are free, there’s food. So I have canapé for my dinner two or three nights a week. And, like, it’s just nice: My parents can open up a magazine and see my face, and I don’t care because I don’t read them”—the magazines—“but they”—her parents—“call me and let me know what I’m in and it’s sweet for them, because they’re in Louisiana and they’re, like, old. They’re retired; they’re old.”
And what kind of contemporary art does she enjoy?
“You know what, actually, I love paintings. Because they tell a story and you can look at them and think whatever you want and make your own interpretation.” Her voice was high and dreamy. “Like hold onto something and have something of your own, even if it may have a completely different meaning to the actual artist’s. But, it’s nice to have, you know, an expression. I know that term is already used, but it’s used with reason. It’s a form of expression and it’s nice.”
That day, Thursday, May 11, a friend had set up Ms. Jones on a blind date. “This really cool guy and I’m happy all day,” she said. “We just walked around.”
She’s been linked to the artist Francesco Clemente. Who was this unnamed suitor? “Kim,” she said. “He’s black with a big afro and a big beard.”
The matchmaker was in Ms. Jones’ entourage, and at this point he made a jab. “Well, he’s a little beard,” he said.
“Shut up!” said Ms. Jones. “He’s not anybody famous. I don’t date guys that are famous. And I don’t date society guys either.”
“I mean, I can’t imagine what the excuse is for a guy to come out to one of these parties. I know why I come: I’m a girl. A party like this one doesn’t count because it’s cool. I would bring all my boys here.”
What’s the best thing about this party?
“You know, I could say something really cool, but honestly, I think like the sequins on the floor is the most genius idea. Me and my girlfriend had so much fun—we put it all over our face and, like, took photographs with it. So, I hope they come out nice.”
She’d been saying hi to so many that evening, but someone seemingly especially dear crossed her path and she lunged for her. “Heyyyy,” she said. “Oh, my God, it’s been like 20 billion years!”