Last Wednesday, Cipriani Wall Street welcomed into its enormous marbled confines tuxedo-clad celebrities, AIDS activists and fashion cognoscenti for the amfAR Gala, the organization’s Fashion Week kickoff. President Bill Clinton and Diane von Furstenberg were on hand to receive awards as Alan Cumming, Blake Lively, Woody Allen, Anna Wintour, Chelsea Clinton, Liev Schreiber and countless other luminaries watched from their seats.
“I like amfAR—a lot,” President Clinton told The Observer. “It’s a very good operation, and they’ve raised more than $300 million, and they’ve made real advances in research and prevention and diagnostics. And to me it’s something that’s really important because of what I do: spreading things that work around the world.”
After dinner, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight took the stage together for a performance of “That’s What Friends Are for.” It was the first time the four had played together in 23 years.
The next night, IMG officially started fashion week with a small reception at their new CIRCA lounge with IMG’s commander in chief, Stephanie Winston Winkoff. The altitudinous Mrs. Winkoff, wearing Alexander McQueen, looked remarkably relaxed considering the marathon week facing her. She waved off the challenges of her job saying, “It’s just like a chess game.”
Later than evening, GQ rented out the Ace Hotel to throw a bash for Fashion Week’s young men’s designers. Runway enthusiast Kanye West showed toward the end and rolled through the crowd with a posse of Kid Cudi, Diplo and a slew of bodyguards. On the other side of the room—across from the platform centerpiece upon which male models stood clothed in the celebrated threads—GQ editor Jim Nelson was engaged in a powwow with Tommy Hilfiger and Jessica Alba.
“There’s a lot of great young talent,” Mr. Hilfiger told The Observer. “It’s amazing. And I love the Ace.”
“I love the aesthetic of this place,” Mr. Nelson chimed in. “It kind of fits the spirit of what we were going after—a moment and a movement when designers are really going back to heritage and tradition, but modernizing them, and that’s kind of what the Ace is.”
Then we turned to Jessica Alba, who seemed to be distracted by the models on the makeshift stage. “There’s lots of men here!” Ms. Alba laughed. “And it’s so cool to be able to talk to Tommy.” The actress and designer looked at each other and smiled.
Continuing our Fashion Week prowl, we found ourselves at Indochine with Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld’s friends and family to celebrate the opening night of his exhibition for RETNA, the L.A.-based graffiti artist. Because so few were invited, people really let their hair down, and it wasn’t long before everyone was dancing on tables and smoking surreptitious cigarettes. Even Vladimir’s mother and the ex-editor of French Vogue, Carine Roitfeld, got into the spirit, pointing and laughing with her friends. Filmmaker Jamie Johnson caught up with old friend Amanda Hearst, and Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill flew in from England. Watching the 6-foot-7 bearded younger son of the Duke of Marlborough lean over to kiss diminutive star Mary-Kate Olsen was like watching a palm tree kiss a pixie.
On Saturday, our first stop was to Nepalese designer Prabal Gurung’s after-party at Mr. H, the nightlife spot at the Mondrian Soho. The new club is oartly owned by former Bungalow 8 doorman Armin Amiri. One retainer from the Bungalow days is Disco—the gargantuan bouncer who controls admission with an iron fist inside a velvet glove. Prabal, in his signature white T-shirt was dancing like a wild thing to DJ Mia Moretti’s tunes while former president’s daughter Barbara Bush spoke in hushed owned tones to a marketing executive from American Express.
Finally, it was time to head to the Boom Boom Room atop the Standard. The club was packed to the gills with Zac Posen’s chain-smoking guests. The ubiquitous Kanye West poked his head in through a wall of bodyguards and models, and both Olson twins sat by the window with a disheveled and confused-looking Jared Leto. Mr. Posen sat on a rail above the scene he’d helped orchestrate, unfazed.
“I need to be in my studio, draping women,” he said, giving a thumbs-up to someone across the room. He explained happily that he was waiting on a shipment of exotic skins. The Observer asked Mr. Posen if he remembered talking to us briefly, more than a year ago, at an event for Patti Smith at the Robert Miller Gallery. He waved his hand as if to say, “Of course.” He then turned to the crowd, swelling far past capacity, all there for him.
Cick for Pictures from the Best Parties of Fashion Week 2011