Sometimes the gap between London and New York seems infinitely wide. The charity auction scene in NYC, so firmly established and often the model of decorum—and can we say, often quite dull—would not have known what had hit it when confronted by the frequently hilarious and very drunken antics in London last night. Whoever thinks the British are civilized is sorely mistaken. It was like one of those Gossip Girl auction set pieces, taken over by a hard drinking and older version of the cast of Saved by the Bell.
Christie’s auction house in Mayfair was the site of the Children in Need auction. It featured numerous re-fashionings of that charity’s iconic figurehead, Pudsey Bear, by many of the top designers and houses in the fashion world. The stylist and editor in chief of Love magazine, Katie Grand, who curated the event, had ensured that the bears turned out in force. She is, as she would readily admit herself, quite bossy, which proves extremely useful in the mustering of such an event. “It’s really like doing a show!” she said backstage, perfecting the bear running order with their celebrity handlers, each of whom was attired according to the bear’s provenance. That is apart from Sibling’s showgirl, Cara Delevingne (above left) who decided to just dress as a bear herself.
The day before, Grand had mused, “I don’t really know rich people who do this sort of thing. I bloody hope they come.” She had nothing to worry about, they turned out in force. And were on the phones.
Backstage, the gaggle of models, actresses, fashion designers, WAGs (like Abbey Crouch, who did the honors for Norton & Sons, left), and the odd photographer and sports star wrangled with their bears. “It’s bigger than me, this thing!” the petite actress Jaime Winstone said of her Fendi bear. The statuesque Jodie Kidd struggled with the weight of her gigantic suede Smythson bear, made even more difficult by the folds of caftan she had been attired in. Liberty Ross, meanwhile, became so attached to her Loewe bear she started a bidding war for it when she got onstage.
Chloë Moretz (above, right) gave one of the best sells of the evening with her Versace bear: “He’s quite high maintenance. And Audrey, Donatella’s dog, has some issues with him. He had to go.” And Kristen McMenamy’s coruscating and brilliantly unhinged performance with her McQueen bear: supermodel sashaying, the screeching “There are children in need, you know!” and the accosting of one phone bidder who hung up on the model. “I actually thought it was a man when I got on that phone,” said McMenamy, left, afterward. “I said ‘I’ll go out on a date with you,’ but it was a woman and she got offended! That’s improv for you.” (John Waters, give this woman a part.) There was also Marc Jacobs in disbelief at how much his Louis Vuitton bear was selling for: £20,000. And the finale to the event was the footballer Peter Crouch’s robot dance, the voguing of designer Giles Deacon, and the disco turn of the auctioneer, Hugh Edmeades—the international director of auctioneering, no less—with the staff of Christie’s looking on agog.
The online auction, featuring Nicolas Ghesquière’s bear creations for Balenciaga, continues at www.designerpudsey.co.uk.