The Holiday Swirl

End-of-year shebangs for ACRIA and Zac Posen


Crystal Renn, Dita Von Teese, Zac Posen, John Demsey, and Uma Thurman   
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Bruce Weber and Francisco Costa joined Donna Karan at her Urban Zen Center last night for the 18th annual ACRIA dinner, an event that many New Yorkers count as a highlight of the holiday season. This year's festivities were made even more special by the presence of four-time Grammy winner Jessye Norman, who brought the crowd to their feet with her touching speech for the late socialite and philanthropist Judy Peabody. "Boy, I sure wish Jessye Norman was reading my speech," said Darren Star, creator of Sex and the City and Melrose Place, who was honoring former In Style editor in chief, Martha Nelson.

"Never in my history of going to ACRIA events have I seen the room get as silent as they did when Jessye spoke," reported artist Ross Bleckner. But not to worry, the noise levels went up quickly as dessert and more wine arrived at the tables. While some guests went off to check on the status of their Paddle8 auction bids (works by Bleckner, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Ed Ruscha were just some of the gems up for grabs), Karan remained seated with her tablemates Calvin Klein and daughter Gabby Karan DeFelice. "I'm telling you, art has the answer," she said, referring to ACRIA's impressive fundraising efforts to fight AIDS. "Art, AIDS, and answer. I'm creating a new version of AA!"

Uptown, Estée Lauder group president John Demsey turned his walls into a gallery for a colorful installation of Donald Robertson (a.k.a. @DonaldDrawbertson)'s fashion drawings before heading over to Mr. Chow, where MAC Cosmetics celebrated Zac Posen's Pre-Fall collection and what the designer called his "short, but maybe a little bit long, time in fashion." The beauty giant has been working Posen's backstage for more than a decade. "I've been so happy to be part of his journey from child star to star. He always had a persona that was bigger than the beginning," said Demsey. Despite presenting Pre-Fall just last week, Posen said he began draping Fall on Tuesday and plans to continue through Christmas. "It's actually my quiet, magical elf time. To drape and be in quiet on those few days, I love it. I have my dress form, my fabric, my music, and my muses that come visit me." Many of those muses—Uma Thurman, Crystal Renn, Pat Cleveland, and Dita Von Teese included—were on hand, and all were wearing his gowns, of course. "Everything is made for curves, everything is made for glamour," said Von Teese of Posen's aesthetic as she puffed on a Swarovski Crystal-covered e-cigarette. After tables were shoved aside, Cleveland and her daughter, Anna, started the dance party—disappearing in a dramatic swirl of ruby- and teal-colored fabric as the designer spun them right round.

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