Starry, Starry Night

Fashion Group International’s 32nd annual Night of Stars was held at Cipriani Wall Street last evening. Sponsored by Lord & Taylor with support from Hearst, Givaudan, LIM College and Arcade Beauty, the black tie dinner and awards ceremony was preceded by cocktails, and included musical performances by jazz musician Brian Newman and singer songwriter Tori Kelly.

Simon Doonan

Once again, it was hosted by Simon Doonan, who entertained the guests (which included Meryl Streep, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Linda Fargo, Tory Burch, Stefano Tonchi, Angela Missoni, Diane Kruger, Allison Williams, Leonard Lauder, Katie Holmes),  with his signature irreverent, off the wall observations during a dinner of scallop salad, Rack of Lamb, and Chilean Sea Bass.

Glenda Bailey

He had everyone laughing out loud when he said that when Margaret Hayes initially told him the theme was “The Revolutionaries”, he thought she had gone mad, thinking that she was referring to the Che Gueveras and Marxes of fashion. But then he ‘got’ it, and upon research, he learned that all the honorees showed early signs of being revolutionaries in their past and went on to explain (“When Alber Elbaz was in grade school, he trimmed his uniform with grosgrain and doused himself in Arpege”).

Anh Duong & Hamish Bowles

This popular event certainly lived up to its name, as the stars (star VIP guests, star honorees, and star presenters) were certainly out in force. And let’s face it; you can’t get much bigger than the legendary Academy Award winning actress Meryl Streep or the multi-talented Justin Timberlake for that matter, both of whom were on hand and provided some of the best and most entertaining moments of the evening with their Oscar worthy performances. One even serenaded us (and no, it wasn’t Justin).

Stefano Tonchi & Tabitha Simmons

Meryl, dressed in a chic white Lanvin dress, received a thunderous standing ovation when, at the end of the night, she went on stage to present the Superstar Award to Lanvin’s creative director Alber Elbaz. She got everyone laughing talking about how, in that “beautiful dress by Alber”, she had to go into the kitchen and open up a can of liver and salmon to serve dinner to her hungry cat.

Jonathan Anderson and Julia Nobis

“Poetry in motion” is how she described his designs, and then she began to sing a few bars from Johnny Pillotson 1960s “Poetry in Motion”. “Alber is a poet and a mensch”. “When I wear the dress, I still feel like me, but a good version of myself. And when I take it off, it falls on the chair with a sigh. There’s no punishment in wearing Alber. It’s all about being comfortable with yourself.” “I know little of fashion. I don’t know how I got in that movie” (this got a lot of laughs). But fashion speaks to me. I studied costume design so I’m a real nightmare to work with because I have so many ideas. He just makes me feel lovely. It’s the beauty of his lines. The drop and the drape. His talent is breathtaking”.

Linda Fargo

Alber’s speech, which ended the night (it was about 10:45), was heartfelt and impassioned, just like his designs. With Meryl standing behind him, he explained that he had told Fashion Group’s Marylou Luther during Paris Fashion Week, that he needed an “extension” for his speech because he couldn’t do it within the “5 minute” time slot. He said he didn’t like the word revolution and preferred evolution. He spoke about our high tech world, how it’s changing everything, and said he was addicted to Instagram.

He talked about his love of movies and popcorn, and the dreams they enable him to have. “Films make me dream and laugh”. “Dreams make us go forward. Dreams make me go forward”. “We’re living in a smart world. Today we have too much information.” “I’m not against high tech, but it has to be mixed with beauty.” For him, it’s all about striking that balance, and about figuring out “what women need and what women want.” “I prefer to whisper than to speak loud.” He ended by thanking everyone who works with him at Lanvin. “I’m only the conductor of Lanvin”, he offered.

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel

Justin Timberlake is hands down one of the coolest cats on the planet in my opinion (he made my 2015 Best Dressed List). The showman and style icon, credited for “bringing sexy back”, was the recipient of the Lord & Taylor Fashion Oracle Award, which was presented to him by designer Neil Barrett. But not before Tori Kelly went on stage with a show stopping rendition of Justin’s hit, “Suit and Tie”.

Katie Holmes

It was so good in fact, he actually said it was better than his own version. He admitted he did not write a speech because “I’m a musician and musicians never prepare for anything”. But he did have a list, and he was hysterical. He said that when Margaret Hayes told him he was receiving the Award, all he heard was the word ‘Oracle’, not Lord & Taylor, and said to himself, “I ‘m a fucking oracle?” He admitted he watches too much Matrix.

Neil Barrett

There was no denying that the evening was all about Alber. Before presenting the Brand Heritage Award to Bulgari, Glenda Bailey said, “Alber is the star of the evening- an entire galaxy!” She then recounted that Richard Burton had once observed that “the only Italian world Liz Taylor knew was Bulgari.” And when Roger Vivier’s creative director Bruno Frisoni received his Fashion Star Award from Katie Holmes (who said his “kindness matches his brilliance”), he gave a shout out to fellow honoree Alber: “You are a special man Alber and I’m happy I can call you my friend. This is such a special moment tonight because of Alber.”

John Demsey & Alina Cho

John Demsey gave the Beauty Star Award to Estee Lauder’s Karyn Khoury (“Estee Lauder was the first revolutionary in the beauty industry” she noted). Peter Harris gave the Interior Design Award to George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg of Yabu Pushelberg (Glenn, having fun, shouted out, “Margaret is a swell dame”). Andrew Morgan gave Eileen Fisher the Sustainability Award and praised her for “her profound sense of humility”. Eileen said her dream is to be “100% sustainable”.

Jason Wu & Diane Kruger

Jason Wu received his Fashion Star prize from gorgeous and always well turned out Diane Kruger, who explained that even though she considers herself to be fashion savvy, like most of us, she had really not known about Jason Wu until Michele Obama “made history” wearing his gown at the Inaugural Ball in 2008. Jason, who said he was “buying dolls on Ebay” prior to becoming a fashion designer, first met Margaret Hayes 7 years ago when he won Fashion Group’s Rising Star Award. “Margaret adopted me before adopting Asians was fashionable” he joked. Fellow Fashion Star honoree Jonathan Anderson received his award from the model Julia Nobis (“I never had to make a speech before. At a time when fashion is moving at the speed of boredom, collaborations are even more important. Man cannot do it alone” he said, and the thanked LVMH).

Jimmy Choo founder Tamara Mellon handed Pinterest’s Evan Sharp the first ever Technology Innovation prize. “Girls” star Allison Williams gave eBay’s Marcelle Parrish the Retail Trailblazer award. Lew Frankfort awarded Karen Harvey the Humanitarian Award.

The evening ended just before 11PM and upon leaving, each guest was handed a good looking leather Christian Lacroix tote bag filled with goodies. While alas, it didn’t include a pair of Roger Vivier pumps, a Bulgari watch, or a fabulous frock by Lanvin, Jason Wu, or Jonathan Anderson (who designs for both JW Anderson and Lowe), there was a Lord & Taylor gift certificate, an Ebay gift card, a bottle of Pinot Grigio, a box of Godiva chocolates, an Eileen Fisher bag, and Tom Ford’s Noir eau de toilette among other things.

Lookonline’s Marilyn Kirschner with Elbaz
Photo: Lieba Nesis

And on a final note, thankfully, the New York Mets clinched the division title on Wednesday night, so I didn’t have to miss most of what would have been game 5 last night. Go Mets!

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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