During New York Fashion Week, it is all too normal to receive a text message saying, “lol this is running so behind schedule” just moments before a show is about to start.
But on the night after fashion week—a night typically reserved for catching up on a jam-packed DVR, resting your heel-atrophied feet, and, you know, sleep—hearing those words is a bit of psychological warfare.
That is, unless, the event at hand is Rihanna’s annual Diamond Ball, a major, star-studded gala to benefitting the singer’s Clara Lionel Foundation, which works to support impoverished communities across the globe with healthcare and education. Now in its third iteration, the black tie affair has previously been held in California, leaving anticipation for the New York debut at a palpable high. Of course, the promise of an intimate comedy set by Dave Chappelle, performances by Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris, and, oh yeah, Rihanna, didn’t hurt the excitement.
But first, we wait. The event’s cocktail “hour” stretched well into the two-and-a-half hour range, a wait made to feel all that longer as a swarm of security guards locked each individual’s cell phones in a technologically-secured neoprene pouch—rumor had it the precaution was not for RiRi’s sake, but rather Chappelle not wanting the audience to record his set—forcing attendees to actually—gasp!—mingle with each other.
Luckily, there was plenty of cocktails—literally, everywhere you turned, a tuxedo-clad waiter was ready to offer you a new one—to make that social interaction go down a bit smoother among the likes of Emily Ratajkowski, Cardi B, L’il Kim, Victor Cruz, Trevor Noah and Rihanna-beloved designers Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior and Jacquie Aiche.
Rihanna herself finally took the stage around 9 p.m., welcoming the crowd to a chorus of cheers. She may have been late, but this was still Rihanna. “Thank you to each and everyone of you for being here,” she said. “I’m thrilled to bring the Diamond Ball to New York City, and thrilled to bring everyone closer to the mission and the people at the heart of it all… We are investing in the future, and helping to improve the quality of life for young people and their families around the globe. I hope that as you hear about what we are doing and what we plan to do, you too will be inspired to join our mission. And, of course, I hope the more you drink, the more inspired you’ll be to donate money.”
It was a tactic that seemingly worked. After Chappelle ran through a lengthy-set that touched upon everything from Donald Trump to ritual sacrifice (a nod to the event’s all-white, candle-lit decor), the comedian returned to the stage to help auction off a series of enticing lots, including a trip to the Maldives, a wall-sized painting by Retna, which Chapelle ended up purchasing himself for $180,000, and a 15L Nebuchadnezzar bottle of Champagne Armand de Brignac's Rosé, signed by Jay-Z. It was then that Chappelle called attention to a late-comer, who had snuck in sometime during the main course—Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter had arrived, with wife Beyoncé in tow. The duo stayed mysteriously obscured throughout the course of the evening, despite many craned necks and laps around the room hoping otherwise.
Luckily, there was another A-List latecomer plenty visible: Leonardo DiCaprio posted up a table near the entrance. In typical Leo form, his table was filled with a number of model types. However, for this occasion, he had left his newsboy cap behind, adhering to the evening’s very fancy dress code in a formal tux. Apparently, even Oscar winners don’t want to piss off Rihanna.
All that attention to audience was quickly diverted, however, as Lamar took to the stage just before midnight. “Y’all don’t want to miss this,” announced Rihanna. “Ladies and gentleman, get close, get drunk, it’s Kendrick Lamar.”
The singer took her own advice, rushing to the front of the stage, where she danced to the rapper’s set, glass of Champagne firmly in hand.
But lest you forget whose event this was, RiRi whipped out her cell phone—which had all been mercifully unlocked at this point in the evening—turning her back to the stage to get a good selfie with Lamar in the background. As she worked her angles, her phone case glittered in the night.
Apparently, she may be a bad girl—in fact, the case said it pink cursive letters—but even Rihanna lives in fear of the dreaded cracked iPhone screen.
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