“Claridge’s asked us to create this year’s Christmas tree, and we were delighted because London and Claridge’s are two of our favorite places, and Christmas is such a magical time,” Stefano Gabbana told Style.com last night at the annual Christmas tree unveiling at Claridge’s, an event that, for many Londoners, marks the beginning of the festive season. “To be asked was such an honor considering the great designers who have taken part before. We just hope that we have achieved our goal of bringing a bit of Italian artigianalita [artistry] to London.”
Well, they can tick that box. The beautiful ornaments that were painstakingly hand-blown, carved, and painted in an Italian workshop included pupi (wooden puppets), toy soldiers, medieval knights, and even orange, lemon, and watermelon wedges that transported us directly to a Sicilian garden. This collaboration carries on the tradition established by Claridge’s in 2009 of inviting a fashion house to dream up a tree, with Dior and Lanvin rising to the challenge at Christmases past.
Eva Herzigova, David Gandy, Poppy Delevingne, Joan Collins, and more sampled Italian canapes out of festively wrapped gift boxes and were treated to a moving tenor performance that held the entire crowd in rapt attention. “The environment they created is so very special—the atmosphere here is absolutely rich with this infusion of Italian culture,” offered Herzigova. “I think with this, the boys have outdone even themselves, if that is possible.”
Much as you’d expect, the Vanity Fair “Portraits” exhibit at LACMA is thick with legends—Katharine Hepburn, Josephine Baker, Madonna, and Princess Di are just a few of the famous subjects lensed for the magazine, and the shots of them included in the show are among its most familiar. But the legends everyone was keeping an eye on at last night’s opening party weren’t stuck in any frames. No, that was in fact Joan Collins, younger beau in tow, working her way down the LACMA carpet, followed shortly thereafter by a shockingly petite Farrah Fawcett. These people are real? Very real, according to Mario Testino. “You know, I spend so much time retouching,” explained Testino, “I become very intimate with my subjects. I know all their flaws. I know what their toes look like. Sometimes,” he added, “when I look at my photos, I can only see the parts I retouched. It’s strange.” Naturally, Testino cited his portraits of Princess Diana as his favorite among his pieces in the exhibit, and likewise naturally, he wasn’t about to divulge any information about Di’s toes. The Office star Rainn Wilson, on the other hand, was more forthcoming. Asked if he had a favorite portrait of himself, Wilson explained that a while back, he’d done a series of photos for Entertainment Weekly where he’d dressed as various legendary television stars. Joan Collins? “No,” Wilson said. “But I did dress up as Xena, the warrior princess, with sword and breastplate and everything. And that is probably my favorite photo of myself.” But, he went on to note, there was one problem. “Now I kind of wish that whole series had been for Vanity Fair,” added Wilson. “Because that way, I’d have my freaking picture in this show!”