The New York City French bistro and downtown hotspot Balthazar was transformed into haven of Hollywood and art world VIPs on Monday, June 13. Passersby who happened to be in SoHo and were lucky enough to stumble upon the 15th annual Tribeca Festival artists dinner, hosted by Chanel, hung around the carpet constructed in front of the restaurant, hoping to catch a glimpse of Robert DeNiro, Penélope Cruz, Whitney Peak, Gracie Abrams, Jemima Kirke, and Andrew Garfield.
The attendance of such A-list names makes sense for a house like Chanel, which dresses its roster of celebrity friends and family for red carpet events during awards season and beyond, but also because a devotion to the arts has been baked into the label’s ethos since Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel founded the brand in 1910. At that time, she surrounded herself with the leading artists of her era, drawing inspiration from the likes of Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau, and Pablo Picasso.
In 2022, that devotion translates to a yearly soirée that not only celebrates the filmmakers participating in the esteemed festival, but the artists who galvanize those auteurs. This year, Chanel tapped the curator Racquel Chevremont to put together a list of artists for the Artist Award Program; Hank Willis Thomas, Ming Smith, Nina Chanel Abney, and more donated works of original art to various filmmakers. Chevremont chose a theme that paid homage to Kendrick Lamar’s hit single “Alright.”
“It’s always a little complicated when you’re asking artists to donate work,” Chevremont told W before heading into Balthazar for dinner. “But when Tribeca Festival reached out to me and said they wanted to do something special, something of the moment, which makes a statement, I thought, You know what? There are so many artists who are cinephiles—and the independent filmmakers at Tribeca are artists, too, and not what you think of when someone says ‘Hollywood.’”
But of course, this is Chanel we’re talking about—and the brand’s list of Hollywood heavyweights is nothing to scoff at. As a result, the restaurant resembled something of a high school cafeteria of cliqued-up popular kids. There were the young starlets: Sadie Sink, Havana Rose Liu, Chase Sui Wonders, Myha’la Herrold, and Amandla Stenberg; Vanity Fair’s Radhika Jones and Samira Nasr from Harper’s Bazaar headed up the prestige media crew; impossibly chic Francophiles like Rebecca Dayan and model Vivienne Rohner; and the seasoned professionals—Kyle MacLachlan, Andie MacDowell, and DeNiro, who sat next to his son Julian at dinner. Garfield and Dianna Agron, meanwhile, put their heads together for most of the night, locked in conversation with one another.
Cruz shimmied into a red leather booth to take pictures with DeNiro, who gamely leaned into frame with the Parallel Mothers star. Dressed in a pink Chanel summer dress with a hot pink purse to match (not to mention a ring in the shape of the very same purse), the actress, who stars in the Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn film Official Competition that premiered at the Tribeca Festival, told W she felt it was a “privilege” to be able to gather in person after “what we went through for so long.”
“Still, I cannot say that without remembering what other places in the world are going through right now,” she added. “But I feel grateful to bring a movie that we did during Covid, which we had to stop for six months—and that’s a long time. We thought maybe it would fall apart [at the time,] since we were one month away from finishing. Now, we’re able to bring our movie everywhere, around the world.”
Cruz has notably been taking on more indie roles in Spanish-speaking films of late, prioritizing spending time with her husband, actor Javier Bardem, and children in their home base of Madrid. When asked what it’s like to navigate the emotions of living with a spouse who is in the middle of working on a movie, the actress said, “It’s never the same.
“But for me, all that changed once I had children. I used to think that the more I suffered, the better the performance was going to be. But once I had my kids, I decided to work more with my imagination and less by forcing anything from my real life. In my 20s or in my 30s, before I was a mother, I would force a little bit my personal traumatic experiences. Now, I feel like that doesn’t necessarily make the result better—but it does make your life more healthy to separate fiction and reality.”