Saturday, January 19, 2008

I MET MARC JACOBS! The Full Story on the Party Celebrating the Opening of his New Bucktown Boutique!

Last night, Marc & Co. swooped into town for a 700-person sit-down dinner dance celebrating the opening of the new Marc by Marc Jacobs boutique on North Ave. in Bucktown. It's a very Armitage-Avenue-looking outpost, but perhaps I am biased because I used to live down the street and lament the area's de-gritification. Anyway, back to me and Marc and the moonlight ...

The party went down on the third floor of a raw loft space near the five-points intersection, the kind of space marked at streetlevel by a single metal door and a single thick-necked, earpiece-wearing sentry. I wore my copper-satin accented sparkly knit Just Cavali dress because the invitation called for a dress code of "glitter and glamour." The crowd only half complied, but everyone gets a bit of a pass because the weather was so damn cold. The invitation instructed that it was to be a sit-down affair, starting promptly at 8 pm -- which came and went with nary a salad. But no matter, everyone was having fun, mingling and hoping that soon St. Marc would be there. And then, he was.

No ceremony surrounded his arrival -- no announcement, none of the pomp that could be expected to swirl around one of today's most influential designers. He just sort of walked in the door and surveyed the scene. The PR rep hustled to his side and brought him to one of the circular tables in the center of the room, all of which were identically decked with large rhinestones, votives and wooden airplane toys. A few other people appeared to clasp his hand and shoulder, then they disappeared. And suddenly, Marc was alone at the table. I lept into action. I was not going to have a repeat of the Rowley incident, where I stood feet away from a Major Designer and did not budge!

I ambled over to Mssr. Jacobs, extended my hand and said, "Welcome to Chicago!" He reflexively took my hand, which I clasped again with my other hand. His eyes wandered around the room and his hand stayed limp in mine. "Hey" he responded vaguely. Undeterred, I chirped "Cold enough for ya?" He looked at me -- right ... at ... me --- and became at once a real, animated person. "I know! I just got off a plane and I can't even deal!" I sure hope he meant that he couldn't deal with the cold weather, and my goofy, fear-infused enthusiasm wasn't the offense. Here's what he looked like: slim, small-boned, taut, close-cropped hair, beautiful eyes, earlobe bling, tan, midnight-blue slim-fitting suit with a touch of sheen.

And then, it was over.

Word was out that Marc was In the House, and I could see people coming. I said, "Well, welcome and thanks for everything," and speedwalked back to my table.

The rest of the party was nice, we decided it was like a big ole fancy wedding, minus any sort of announcement, program, agenda or otherwise. Bizarre but not unwelcome. Met lots of nice people (shout out to the women of Tangerine!), enjoyed the company of my lovely dinner companion, the ever-stylish and fashion renaissance woman Heather Kenny, and gobbled up every morsel placed in front of me: balsamic-drizzled salad with blue cheese followed by fish on a bed of couscous and with a chunky Mediterranean tomato sauce, then a trio of miniature desserts: a leaf-shaped butter cookie dipped in green tea white chocolate (superb), a small shortbread tart (tasteless) and a demitasse cup filled with orange-infused chocolate mousse (divine!) topped with a sliver of what appeared to be a clementine peel. Perhaps not. Pacing was a bit erratic, but the Voss water was flowing and Champagne (OK, Segura Viudas Cava) came often enough, and life was good.

I collected lots of interesting gossip tidbits including: Marc flew in about 200 people from NYC for the event, putting them up at the James and the Penninsula (guess which venue Marc was staying at!); for the opening of the store, he staffed it entirely with male models, also from NYC (they were leaving today); and the entire store was assembled in just four days.

Then the event wound down and it was time to descend to the second floor for The Disco, complete with a top-shelf open bar and Perry Ferrell spinning the tunes. Yes, the very same Perry, of Janes Addiction/Lollapalooza fame, sort of looked like Marc Jacobs with bad skin. Truly uncanny. (Gossip alert: I heard he was donating his time & talent because he was a Friend of Marc.) I wondered first whether they could swap Hedi Silmane suits, but then I couldn't help wondering why the music he was playing was such crap. OK, not crap, just ... ordinary. Gay disco standards mixed with 80s standards like White Lines. Yes, Funkytown was played. By Perry Ferrell. I was a bit disappointed. But only a bit - the entire evening was like a fairy tale, especially since Marc and I shared such a bonding moment. I should have hit him up for an invitation to his show, since my NY Fashion Week dance card is still pretty empty. Maybe next time. Marc. Maybe next time.

Swag-o-meter: Medium. Lots of yummy food and fabulous people watching more than made up for allowing guests to leave empty-handed. That said, Marc's party was a benefit. He has a long track record of loaning his talents and marketing pull to design and sell T-shirts to benefit worthwhile causes like the HRC, and last night was all about Common Threads, a terrific local organization that puts kids in the kitchen and teaches about nutrition and cultural heritage through food. Viva Marc -- an excellent choice. The short-sleeved grey Ts were $35, and yours truly bought one. They came in a cool Marc Jacobs Chicago tote that was also stuffed with a giant American Flag towel that gave me sort of the Ralph Lauren heebie jeebies, but had the address of the Damen Ave boutique emblazoned across the back in the signature Copperplate font, so guess which side I'll be displaying poolside! So, not a bad deal for a mere $35 -- I actually wish I would have bought more. So despite the fair-to-middlin swag factor, the value-added factor was high. Nice ROI for me, yo!

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