Maxim’s was the place to be on May 6th when Warner Brothers, Margaret O’Connor (MarCon Communications), Dr. Michael O’Meara and ReachMail hosted one of the hottest Gatsby parties in town. With Gatsby fever raging for months, this invitation was coveted among the see-and-be-seen crowd and besides being a blockbuster film, Margaret had another reason for producing this event: Being a fellow Aussie like director Baz Luhrmann, she was keen to present this movie since most of the filming takes place in her native Australia! The invitation requested guests dress in Gatsby attire with the added enticement of prizes for the most Gatsby-esque. (And it didn’t take much to encourage attendees to channel their best “Daisy” and “Jay” attire either!) Before the start of the film, Deputy Consul General of Australia in Chicago Lorenzo Strano said he hoped the beautiful scenery would entice everyone to visit Australia. Next, Bill Zwecker and Chaz Ebert introduced the film. Chaz said “The Great Gatsby” was a favorite film and book of her late husband Roger’s and he had been eagerly awaiting the film and he was “so jazzed” to see Baz Luhrmann’s version. She added that the last page of the book had been recited at their wedding. Bill said that he, too, was looking forward to Baz’s interpretation and that he had run into Mia Farrow (who played the part of Daisy Buchanan in the 1974 version) in Connecticut a couple weeks earlier. After the film, guests headed over to Maxim’s, located in Chicago’s Gold Coast and once the hot spot for celebrities and the posh set back in its heyday. With its striking plush red velvet and mahogany décor, Maxim’s was the perfect backdrop for this lavish Gatsby-themed party. At the entrance, under the canopied walkway, a blue 1931 Ford Phaeton replica, belonging to Mamie Walton and given to her at Maxim’s on her 50th birthday, was parked alongside a lemon yellow 1947 Lincoln convertible (somewhat reminiscent of Jay Gatsby’s yellow Rolls Royce). Having their photos taken with the cars were men of style Michel Desjardins, Pierre Desy, Paul Iacono and William Holdeman, all wearing pastel suits and looking every bit the part of a 1920’s GQ fashion spread. Models dressed in ’20s attire draped themselves languorously beside the classic cars in a fashion installation created by Kate Johnson Artistry. Others channeling Gatsby style included Mamie Walton, Margey Teller, Dr. Kathleen Albrecht, Laurie Davis, Jan Melk, Joan Colmar, Hazel Barr and couples John Donohue & Julianne Glatz, Katie and Jason Mclenaghan, Kevin & Janine Larson and Stanley Paul & niece Joanie Legittino. Inside, music from the Stanley Paul 1920’s Theatre Collection mixed in with Jay-Z’s film soundtrack played while Gatsby-style attired guests table-hopped and chatted about Luhrmann’s dazzling 3-D epic which captured the glamour, opulence and indulgent lifestyle of the era. Prosecco, served in keepsake flutes embossed with the Gatsby logo, flowed while servers wearing black flapper fringed dresses and sequined headpieces circulated with St. Claire vodka cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Models dressed in the theme of the night took pictures with guests throughout the evening and attendees took home gift bags filled with items from the sponsors that included everything from Warner Brothers’ water bottles and martini shakers to iPad and iPhone covers and screen wipes. Prizes for “Best Gatsby Attire” included Gatsby beach bags, the book, soundtrack and more. For the film’s official opening at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15th, there was a glittering red carpet premier. Director Luhrmann found it only fitting to premier the film first in Cannes since F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first draft of “The Great Gatsby” was completed on the French Riviera. (An extravagant Australian premier is set for May 22nd.) Others guests seen in the crowd included Jacqui O’Neil, Dr. Michael O’Meara, Chicago Bear Henry Melton, former Bear James “Big Cat” Williams, Greg & Lily Gulik, Mary Sleger & John Murphy, Steve Traxler, Paul Iacono, Jesus Salgueiro, Sean Eshaghy, JP Anderson, Diane Primo, Kelli Zink, Melissa & Brian Babcock, Toni Canada, Johanna Cook, Bunky Cushing, Rachel DeMarte, Michel Desjardins, Pierre Desy, Susanna Negovan, Nina Mariano, Andrea Schwartz, Sherrill Bodine, Julie Darling, Amy Wimer, Debi Lily, Sheryl Dyer, Deborah Brown (soon to be married!), Mary Ann Rose & Heinz Kern, Dr. Joaquin Brieva & Jennifer Sutton, Joey Majumdar, Andrea and Dr. Mimis Cohen, Michael Judge, Mark Roscoe and Sheila Dorman. Maxim’s backstory: This legendary hotspot opened in 1963 and quickly became the gathering spot for celebrities and Chicago’s elite. The striking décor was an exact replica of the famous Parisian restaurant and throughout the years Maxim’s has been used in other films – there is an extended sequence in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” and Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard’s characters travel back in time to the Belle Époque and have dinner together at Maxim’s in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” (Photos by Jon Recana and Alex Riemann.)
Tiffany & Co. jewels sparkled at the recent Chicago screening of “The Great Gatsby” when they rolled out the red carpet on May 15th to host an exclusive screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center. More than 100 by-invite-only guests attended the 1920’s Jazz Age-themed cocktail party and movie premier with Tiffany designs taking center stage as models showcased pieces that appear in the film. Many of the jewels are from Tiffany & Co.’s famed 2013 Blue Book Collection. Featured statement pieces from the Collection included The Savoy, a diamond and freshwater cultured pearl headpiece with detachable brooch and a brilliant necklace featuring a 49.59 carat emerald-cut aquamarine. A jazz quartet set the stage for the event while guests sipped signature cocktails, including “The Daisy” and “Red Berry Mint Julep.” Passed hors d’oeuvres included griddled buckwheat blinis with American sturgeon caviar presented by Blue Plate Catering. As the lights dimmed, guests were handed boxes of truffle salted and caramel drizzled popcorn to enjoy while they watched the fabulous show! Congrats to Tiffany’s for making a wonderful movie even more visually delightful with your awesome bling! :) (Photos by Mila Samokhina...see more pics here!)
It was a night filled with fashion...but not the kind you are used to seeing on a runway: No my friend, this was the 79th annual School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) “The Walk,” arguably the most creative and innovative fashion show of its kind in the country! More than 90 design students from SAIC filled the 90-foot runway with the most awe-inspiring, futuristic designs I’ve ever seen. Everything from clear plastic blazers to headgear resembling something Princess Leia would wear, it was a head-spinning evening for sure in Millennium Park on May 3rd! The Legend of Fashion honor went to sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, award- winning designers/creators of the Rodarte line which they founded in 2005. Their beautiful fashions are worn by First Lady Michelle Obama, Kiera Knightly, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Kirsten Dunst, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Dakota Fanning, Scarlett Johansson and Reese Witherspoon to name a few and The New Yorker calls the sisters “the most celebrated American designers working today.” Philanthropist Melissa Sage Fadim was honored with the first ever Heart of Fashion award. Even though the runway fashions were to-die-for, the 500+ attendees could’ve taken a turn on their own runways! I always love this event because the fashions are usually as innovative on the guests as they are on the models! This year’s stand-outs included Ellen Sandor (who looked chic wearing a student-designed cape), Azeeza Kahn (who looks great in anything all the time), Laura Kofoid (whose outfit was colorfully creative), Quintin Primo III (who was wearing a Mick Jagger-inspired jacket) and Tommy Walton (a “Check, Please!” host contender who always makes a fashion statement). Other notables included Creatures of the Wind’s Shane Gabier, Chris Peters and Michael Walls, Todd and Sylvie Ricketts, Ikram and Josh Goldman, Nina Ricci artistic director Peter Copping, AJ Johnson, Kim and David DeJesus, Elle magazine’s Anne Slowey, Paper magazine’s editorial director Mickey Boardman, designer Maria Pinto, Ebony’s editor-in-chief Amy Dubois Barnett, and Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra. The evening raised $400,000 for SAIC – great to see the future of fashion is alive and well in Chicago with the students of SAIC! (To see ALL pics by Sara Condo and Chasitie Neal, please click here!)
Congrats to 25-year-old Raquel Pomplun for winning the Playboy Playmate of the Year title as the first Mexican-American centerfold! Fellow Playmate Dianne Chandler attended this year’s PMOY party at the Mansion in LA on May 16th and shared the story with me: For many of the luncheon guests, the day began with a trolley ride from UCLA’s parking lot. This is usually the case with Hef’s parties since those fine folks in Holmby Hills frown on having cars parked on their multi-million dollar manicured lawns. Dianne says she was helped from the trolley by an exceptionally handsome Latino man whose muscles sent her into a temporary swoon. The luncheon was held on the front lawn under a lavishly decorated tent in shades of Playmate pink and white. Chandeliers were twinkling and the day was a typical gorgeous, sunny California dream. One of the drinks offered was a non-alcoholic cucumber/water concoction (How I miss the old days...I don’t recall any non-alcoholic drinks even offered in the ‘70s!) Dianne insists it was “delightfully refreshing” so I’ll have to take her word on this. Cooper Hefner spoke first and introduced his dad, who was dapper in a white suit and seated with his lovely new wife Crystal Harris. (Hef recently gifted Crystal with a $4-million home on Sunset Strip.) He introduced Raquel, noting that she was chosen by the magazine’s readers, editors, photographers and the PR department of Playboy. He presented her with a check for $100K and a year’s lease on a red Jaguar F-Style convertible. (It’s good to be PMOY these days: The checks have increased tenfold since the days when I was a PM!) Raquel, a biochemistry major and a classically trained ballerina, had a 103-degree temperature when she shot her pics. If this layout was Raquel on a “bad day,” I can’t imagine what her photos would’ve looked like had she been feeling well! Married at age 22 to Alejandro Pomplun, she submitted her photos via Playboy’s website with her husband’s blessing. She said posing nude “made me more confident and less obsessive about little things. I learned to appreciate my body a little bit more. Not a little bit more. I appreciate it, period.” At the end of the day, a group photo photo was arranged by handsome and beloved Playmate promotions director, James Gonis. There were Playmates in attendance from all generations and Dianne was thrilled that Hef remembered her from her centerfold days. (They were both alums of the University of Illinois.) All past Playmates are invited to Hef’s parties and it’s always a thrill to connect with old friends. Dianne was one of the few Playmates who was also a Playboy Bunny: A hometown girl from Berwyn who now lives in Atlanta, she was September 1966 Playmate. Her gatefold was shot by the legendary lensman Pompeo Posar (who also shot Patti McGuire’s beautiful layouts). Congrats to Raquel and I’m not surprised about Hef's memory: He might be growing older but he always remembers the ladies who brought him to the party! The wonderful video below was created by fellow Playmate Miss May 2010 Kassie Logsdon, who captured the afternoon perfectly!
If you’re in New York City on July 2nd, don’t miss the Big Apple debut of Chicago’s very own Diva Lynne Jordan! This soulful chanteuse will bring her Nina Simone show to City Winery on July 2nd. Located deep in the heart of SoHo, this gorgeous 300-seat venue is just the place for our girl to go BIG! Please share the news with your friends and buy your tickets now!! ($15 Music Only or upgrade to the five wine pairing, $30 admission)
The Women’s Board of the Lincoln Park Zoo recently held a Preview Party at Paul Stuart to kick-off this year’s festivities for Zoo Ball 2013: Wild at Heart. The cocktail party was hosted by dapper Paul Kelly (regional manager of Paul Stuart) at the chic Paul Stuart Oak Street location. Guests of honor included Zoo Ball co-chairs Charlotte Monhart, Vasiliki Weiden and Jennifer Caruso and Women’s Board president Peggy Swift White. Mark Walter (CEO of Guggenheim Partners and presenting sponsor of Zoo Ball 2013) and his wife Kimbra were also in attendance alongside Lincoln Park Zoo’s president & CEO Kevin Bell. Guests enjoyed small bites courtesy of Boutique Bites paired with Maker’s Mark cocktails and Goose Island craft beer while perusing Paul Stuart’s expansive inventory and taking in the musical styling of jazz artist Kyle Asche. The buttoned-up preview party at Paul Stuart is just a little taste of what to come at Zoo Ball 2013’s annual affair on July 12th so mark your calendars now! (For tickets and more info, please visit www.lpzooball.org.)
Fleurotica 2013 will be presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art on June 12th. Co-chaired by Deirdre Koldyke, Shauna Montgomery and Whitney Lasky this flower-filled fashion show will also include a champagne reception with small bites. The show is a unique haute couture fashion extravaganza with all of the runway designs created from a variety of flowers and greenery. (To see highlights from last year’s show, please see my Watch312 video below.) A portion of proceeds will benefit Garfield Park Conservatory’s educational programs. (For tickets – beginning at $250 – please click here!)
The Joffrey Ballet’s Auxiliary Board is hosting an unforgettable night filled with mystery and intrigue at its inaugural Joffrey Blue Masquerade Ball on June14th. The event will be located at the Joffrey Tower at 10 E. Randolph from 8 p.m. until midnight. Partygoers are encouraged to wear their favorite masks and will be treated to complimentary cocktails, delicious bites from Chicago’s top restaurants, an exciting raffle and the hot sounds of DJ Madrid! I hope you’ll join me for this exciting night benefitting The Joffrey Ballet co-chaired by John Walcher, Camille Britton and Terrence Chapell. To purchase tickets or for more info, please visit www.joffrey.org/blue. (Individual tickets are $85.)
Thanks to the Palmer House Hilton for including me as a member of its “Iron Chef” competition on May 7th. I partnered with PH Catering Director David Brandt for an event that put me clearly out of my comfort zone! Executive Chef Stephen Henry conducted the competition between the four teams. A long table was laid out with every kind of kitchen goody imaginable and each team had a few seconds to grab whatever ingredients they thought they would need to add to the “secret ingredient,” which turned out to be ground beef. My team quickly whipped up delicious blue cheese mini-burgers sautéed with mushrooms and onions. In the end (and to our surprise), the team of judges selected our team as the winners! I love this hotel and it was thrilling to take a peek behind the scenes into its gorgeous, massive kitchen area and sample its always-delicious cuisine!! Also, don’t miss longtime Palmer House PR director Ken Price’s exciting historical presentations about this legendary hotel: He knows everything there is to know about the PH and shares it with guests in thrilling detail! (For more info about the Palmer House and Ken’s lectures, please click here!)
And last but not least, a big Happy Birthday shout-out to glam girlfriends Lynn McMahan, Kristina McGrath and Korinna Isselhardt! I loved feting these beautiful- inside-and-out friends at one of our fav restaurants: RL. Happy guests included Nina Mariano, Michaela Parrillo, Jan Flanagan, Toni Canada, Dusty Stemer, Tracy Scurto and Patty Nalepa. Happy, happy birthday lovely ladies! (View more pics here!)
That’s it for this week! So happy the weather is finally cooperating for all of our outdoor activities! Until next time, have fun, use sunscreen and happy grilling!
Love, as always,
P.S. I loved this video from the “Ellen Degeneres Show” about the Abercrombie & Fitch controversy. Hope it makes you smile, too!