The scene outside the Mandarin Oriental hotel at the Time Warner Center Tuesday night was something akin to a paparazzi stakeout. Or guerrilla fashion shoot. Tall, lithe things in sweeping, sparkling gowns were pressed up against the entrance’s marble façade as a barrage of cameras and iPhones went off.
“Who are they?” asked one passerby.
“They dress like they think they’re important,” sniped another woman, in typical blasé New York fashion.
Well, turns out they were semi-important: it was an almost unrecognizable Crystal Renn (with her bleached out eyebrows and blonde hair, she looked like a younger, less goth Kristen McMenamy) and Coco Rocha, showing off their Zac Posen frocks.
“Please move away,” said a security person. “They don’t want their photographs taken.”
It actually seemed like they did considering all their preening, but whatever. It was the night of New Yorkers for Children’s annual New Year’s in April: A Fool’s Fete gala, this year sponsored by designer CD Greene Inc. And as Marjorie Gubelmann put it when I finally reached the hotel’s Ballroom, site of the real event, “This is a pose off.”
There sure were a lot of people dressed to attract the roving photographers. One blonde girl wore a paisley printed top and skirt exposing significant midriff real estate (no, the theme was not Moroccan chic. Yes, I think she was looking for some attention). But who was going to pay notice when half the ladies seemed to be covered in enough crystals to perform a New Age reading?
“If you see a sparkle, it’s a CD Greene gown,” quipped Lydia Fenet, herself showing off a dazzling version. Indeed the designer had outfitted the evening’s chairs in his shiny creations. Though another designer managed to attract attention less for what she was wearing than what she wasn’t: namely, shoes. Erin Fetherston posed barefoot with her date and two other fellows.
“It’s for International One Day Without Shoes,” she explained of the Toms shoes charity, which raises awareness of impoverished children by asking people to spend a day barefoot. “If the children can’t afford shoes, we won’t wear them.”
Well, they will when the cameras aren’t looking, as she slipped back into her nude pumps minutes later.
Soon aggressive servers were ushering us to our seats, at votive lit tables with centerpieces of white cherry blossom bouquets.
Honorary chair Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos shared tips on visiting Columbia with Veronica Webb and her beau Chris del Gatto while Selita Ebanks and her dining companion discussed portion control (this while the Victoria’s Secret Angel inhaled her goat cheese salad, bread and butter and steak—life just isn’t fair). And Alina Cho, in a Swan Lake worthy ball-gown thanked god for her aisle seat.
“I’m sitting side-saddle,” she said.
It proved a little cumbersome for dancing afterwards, but she handled it with aplomb as others snuck around the dance floor and out the door.
“The first time I came, I was here until 2 am,” said one girl. “This time I know better.”
Photos: Sherly Rabbani & Josephine Solimene