President Bill Clinton stood between two tables at last night’s amfAR gala at Cipriani Wall Street, and his renowned magnetism — unfettered by age or that new-ish slim physique — created a bottleneck of rubber-necking party-goers at the center of the ballroom. He was there to receive an award for his work in AIDS prevention, and none of the other luminaries there that night matched his aura.
“President Clinton,” Diane von Furstenberg said as she accepted her award. “Still our hottest president.” It was the most applauded line of her speech.
The Observer caught President Clinton as he made his way back to his table, where he sat next to Chelsea and her husband Marc Mezvinsky (who, despite the clamoring tabloids, looked very much together). His figure is such that the nickname “Bubba” seems inappropriate at this point, but apart from that his gait and composure were as vigorous as ever.
“I like amfAr — a lot,” the president told The Observer, his iconic Arkansas accent holding true. “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. It’s a very serious operation. Over the years my foundation has worked more closely with them. I really do like ’em.”
As Chelsea rested her hand on her father’s shoulder, we got to talking about the night’s entertainment: Stevie Wonder, Sir Elton John, Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight, onstage together for the first time in 23 years to perform “That’s What Friends Are For.” Mr. President, we asked rhetorically, is the show going to be good?
“I hope!” he said.
We weren’t the only one to humbly shake the president’s hand for the first time. Blake Lively had the pleasure of meeting him as well. We caught up with the “Gossip Girl” star — or rather, because it’s Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld’s muse and thereby countess in the high court of Chanel. After the performance, we spotted Ms. Lively standing in a flowery dress by herself, arms rested at her side, looking for something or someone that had momentarily blended into the tapestry of opulence that is Cipriani.
She lit up when we asked about the show.
“Oh, my gosh, it was incredible!” Ms. Lively said to The Observer, her sparkling eyes and smile belying any notion that she was not, if fact, ecstatic. “Elton John, Bill Clinton, Stevie Wonder, and, you know, the cause is incredible, you know, to see so many people come out and to hear all the work that so many people have done for AIDS and how many advancements we’ve made, it’s incredible. And just because we’ve made advancements doesn’t mean we have to stop.”
We asked if she had met President Clinton, because we were imagining what it would be like to have the two of them together.
And what was the conversation like?
“I just said, uh… — I mean, we didn’t have much to chat about.”
She did, however, have something to chat about with Kyle MacLachlan — she waltzed over to him as soon as she walked away from The Observer.
“Take care!” Lively said.