On Wednesday night at the Edition hotel in Miami Beach, two competing dinners were underway not more than 20 feet from each other. In the Matador Terrace outside, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow held court for other impossibly hip, influencer types. And then, in the stuffier Matador Room inside, there was Tina Brown.
It was a bit of an unfair match. With their label Public School, Osborne and Chow are walking avatars of cool. Brown was that once too - decades ago. From the time she was a young, firecracker seductress at Oxford, beguiling Auberon Waugh and Martin Amis, to her crackling, zeitgeist-courting tenures at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, Brown “has been a celebrity since she was in college,” as the writer Hendrik Hertzberg once put it.
She is now in her ninth life in the public eye, a platinum member of the chattering class, always jetting off to this ideas festival or that yak-a-thon, constantly convening talks and conferences and panels. She was, in fact, in Miami for a ‘conversation’ with Adam Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum.
What was striking about her appearance was not that she was here, but that it was her first time during Art Basel. After all, Tina Brown follows buzz the way some people follow the spring.
“I don’t follow buzz, darling,” she protested. “I create buzz.”
Taking place side by side, neither of the dinners’ hosts knew of the other’s existence. Together they offered a kaleidoscopic portrait of the class of people that retreats to this resort town every year in the name of art and excess.
Have you heard of Tina Brown?
Osborne and Chow, in unison: “Nope.”
Have you heard of Public School?
Osborne and Chow: Creative directors at their label Public School and DKNY.
Brown: Founder of the Women in the World conference series. At work on her memoir, Media Beast. “It’s so much about the era when magazines were king. You never know something is Camelot until you’ve left it,” she said.
How long have you been coming to Art Basel Miami Beach?
Osborne and Chow: 2005. “We had a store here [Arrive Miami], and we showed José Parlá’s first exhibition at our store,” Chow said.
Brown: First time. But, she said, “I’ve been many times to the Swiss Art Basel, many, many times.”
Official excuse for dinner
Osborne and Chow: The designers were kicking off a relationship between DKNY and the New Museum by sponsoring its all-women solo exhibits in the spring. Diplomatic as ever, Osborne said the idea to link the two is rooted in the label’s history: “What Donna Karan started, empowering women, is something we love.”
Brown: “I was asked to do a dinner at Ian Schrager’s hotel. I love him and it. And I love the idea of talking to Adam Weinberg, a man of such substance and what I do is substance. As you know, I like talking to really smart people.”
Osborne and Chow: Hannah Bronfman, Maria Baibakova, Phil and Shelley Fox Aarons, Jenne Lombardo.
Brown: Ian Schrager, Glenn O’Brien, Brooke Garber Neidich, Amanda Hearst, collector Aaron Fleischman.
Resident ‘It’ girl
Osborne and Chow: Juliana Huxtable
Brown: Beth deWoody
Osborne and Chow: DKNY, natch.
Brown: “I’m wearing an Indian tunic that I found in a small store in Delhi. I’m afraid it’s no designer name.”
Time it was all over
Osborne and Chow: 9 p.m.
Brown: At least for some guests? 10 p.m., around the time the actual ‘conversation’ began.