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Oz Fest

Australia Week 2009 Commences With a Fashionable Fête at Urban Zen

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Donna Karan, Russell James, and Gaby Karan de Felice   
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The Aussies are coming! Wearing flip-flops! (More on that in a minute.) To kick off the nationwide Australia Week 2009, Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Jackman, hosted the Thursday night opening of Nomad Two Worlds, an exhibit of black-and-white photographs by native son Russell James at Donna Karan's Urban Zen gallery and boutique on New York City's Greenwich Street.

Local fashion names, including Nicole Miller and Iman, mixed with the Australian consul general and other official types over cocktails. The theme of the evening was reconciliation, in tune with last year's unprecedented move by the Australian government to apologize to indigenous residents for past injustices. Harder to embrace, perhaps, was the artist of the hour's unseasonable choice of footwear. "Your toes must be cold," noted a concerned Anna Wintour. But the flip-flop-favoring James seemed anything but self-conscious as he described the "spiritual" outback shoot. It was enough to make Karan envious. "I love Australia. I was supposed to go on this trip, and I could kick my butt for not going," she griped. She had an excuse, though: "I was in Ethiopia at the time."

James, meanwhile, went into some serious detail about what it's like to rough it down under. "We slept in something called a swag. It's literally a piece of canvas," he explained. "The entire thing zips up over your head; you're in a cocoon. The blankets never come out of it—it's a very intimate thing, like your socks or your underwear."

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