stunning decade creams Gucci's 85th, by Patty Huntington
- 4th October 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald)
Patty Huntington reports from Milan's fashion week.
don't get me wrong. It's not that the Gucci party
wasn't nice. It was very nice. A series of elegant,
ivy and bay leaf-lined black/transparent marquees
had been erected on some vacant block or park in Milan's
Via Melegari last Wednesday night to create a mini
Gucci world. The R&B artist John Legend performed.
The service was impeccable. People "got down"
nicely but not naughtily.
music was nice but not good, although it was
definitely better than the music at Armani's One Night
Only bash on the previous Thursday in London, after
Beyonce, Bryan Ferry and 50 Cent left the stage. Some
flicked through the nice new tome that has been produced
to mark the company's 85th birthday a book
which, in spite of its distinctive post-1996 advertising
imagery, seemed somewhat bereft of Tom Ford. That
seemed strange given that Ford was the creative who
put the brand back on the map after it had ventured
off-road. Perhaps what the Gucci party really needed
following night's John Richmond party, by contrast,
wasn't nice at all. It was packed. It was sweaty.
It was rude, It was loud.
to put too fine a point on it, it rocked.
let me just backtrack a little. I had been invited
to the party by Adil, a London-based DJ who I had
originally met on the previous Friday at the afterparty
for Boy George's B-Rude label at London's Met Bar.
Met Bar is located inside the swank Metropolitan Hotel,
which is owned by the chic, and terribly cashed-up,
Singaporean Christina Ong. Adil is the Met Bar's music
director, who books the venue's music talent. He was
also going to be DJ-ing at Richmond's show and after-party.
chatting, it emerged that Adil already knew one Australian,
funnily enough, Sydney jeweller Sarina Suriano.
had also been able to partially placate me after I
had been led by another Met Bar acquaintance
a London editor for Tatler Asia, Michelle Roberts
into the Boy George "sweet factory"
that was tucked inside the hotel's lobby shop.
a Boy George party signature, the sweet factory was
essentially one entire shop wall that had been converted
into a lolly showcase: shelf upon shelf containing
baskets of jelly babies, marshmallows and other confections.
scoffing a half dozen cola jelly babies, I was suddenly
gripped by a terrible realisation. What if Boy George
had slipped some acid into the sweets as a special
party favour for guests?
been the victim of a similar spiking at the Melbourne
Cup marquee of a far bigger brand than B-Rude, I wasn't
keen for a repeat performance not with a plane
to Milan to catch in the early AM at any rate.
assured me that Mrs Ong would never be a party to
anything like that inside her hotel.
canvassed a second opinion via SMS with someone who
isn't on Ong's payroll but who knows a party
favour when he sees one.
unlikely unless it's a private party for a select
few," came the immediate response. I calmed down.
helped moreover ID something that had been bugging
me for the past fortnight, ever since I first heard
it at seemingly every second show in New York and
then again in London. It seemed to be, at one point,
the theme tune of the SS07 season. But noone had been
able to tell me exactly what it was. Not Adil. Not
even Matthew Stone one of London's hottest
DJs who I had met at a party on the Monday
night and to whom I found myself, somewhat awkwardly,
whistling and singing the song. But to no avail.
I was coming up the stairs from the Met Bar bathroom
however, I heard whistling. It was THE song. I rushed
out, grabbed Adil and demanded he grill the DJ as
to its origins. As it emerged, the song is called
Young Folks, from Swedish outfit Peter, Bjorn and
there I was, almost one week later in Milan, standing
outside the Rotunda della Besana, a 17th century former
church and cemetery. I had already been inside the
venue that afternoon for the John Richmond show and
the afterparty was in the same place. Richmond was
of course part of London's 1980s new generation fashion
boom and one half of a stellar hybrid label called
Richmond Cornejo. I still have a black Lycra, cyclist-inspired
Richmond Cornejo microdress. For some reason I've
never been able to throw it out. Cornejo took off
to New York where she runs a label called Zero Maria
Cornejo. Ten years ago Richmond hooked up with Italian
manufacturer and distributor Saverio Moschillo, hence
the decade birthday bash.
six hours after the fashion show, the gates were shut
and a large number of people had gathered outside
waiting to get in. At one point it seemed there were
several hundred people standing there. And they were
becoming increasingly agitated. Understandably, they
were pissed off that they had been invited to arrive
at a party at 11.30pm only to find themselves still
locked outside one hour later. At one point some people
near the gate started shouting loudly and it threatened
to turn ugly.
should note that these were not fashion people. They
might have been going to a fashion party but unlike
the internationals who had been populating the Milan
shows all week there were no black platforms,
opaque black tights or early adopter sack dresses.
There didn't even appear to be any skinny jeans. Instead
"good" jeans, "good" shirts, "good"
suits and some fairly non-descript women's clothing.
If this was a snapshot of Milanese youth, it struck
me how terribly conservative it was. Some wonder why
there's no revolution on Milan's runways.
through the sartorial monotony however came a troika
of non Italian supermodels. The Lilies
Cole and Donaldson and Irina Lazareanu. Cole was channelling
Lady Macbeth in a loose, full-length, strapless black
dress and both she and Lazareanu were sporting black
headbands but not Prada-style Alice bands,
rather in the er, Jimmy Hendrix vein. I had to assume
the supes were there to see Stunners International.
But more on the Stunners later.
contemplated leaving. After spending three weeks in
three cities hanging around for shows, it was the
last thing I felt like doing. Then the gates suddenly
opened, the crowd surged forward, I found myself at
the gate and eventually, inside the venue.
more people were inside on the lawns. I later heard
that some 2000 invitations had been sent out. The
Richmond/Moschilla camp must have spent a motza on
the party, which included a dinner for 300 after the
ventured inside the main room. You could hardly move
there were so many people. It was unbelievably loud.
Under the central cupola structure a swagged canopy
of lights had been suspended over a central black
this point I should just briefly backtrack again,
to something that happened in the middle of the dancefloor
at the One Night Only do in London exactly one week
beforehand. Just as I was blogging,
I received an SMS from a Sydney
publicist who I have never met:
like yr burlesque dita coverage. Bq fever has hit
Von Teese in action
was blogging and trying to concentrate. Von Teese
is the world's most famous burlesque artiste
and the wife of Marilyn Manson and I had profiled
her on two recent occasions. "Que?" was
all I could think to text back, before asking for
the publicist's email address.
enough, one week to the day after that cryptic SMS,
guess who turned out to be Richmond's VIP entertainment?
Dita Von Teese.
far the most amusing aspect of Von Teese's energetic
"Girl in a glass" performance however, was
not Von Teese but rather, the looks on the faces of
Cole, Donaldson and Lazareanu as they watched gobsmacked.
They were directly facing me on the other side of
the dancefloor and as Von Teese performed, they stared
wide-eyed at the spectacle, with the kind of embarrassed
smiles that you see at hen's nights. It was as if
they had never seen a near-naked woman in a G-string
before. This struck me as odd given the volume of
same with which the backstage area of any fashion
show is usually littered.
followed Adil to the DJ's booth which was located
at the back wall of the main room. Elevated to about
three metres via four very steep stairs which
were difficult to negotiate in a pencil skirt and
espadrille wedges let me tell you the booth
resembled a three-storey eagle's nest overlooking
the entire room and dancefloor.
arrived in the booth to discover Stunners
International in action. Yes that's actually their
name. A London-based collective of professional
male models who DJ and nightclub-promote on
the side, apparently there are five Stunners all up.
Only two had been booked that night: the tall blond,
androgynous and seemingly very sensitive
Christoffer Fagerli (whose campaign credits include
Dior Homme) and the equally tall, brunette, hyperactive
exhibitionist Wade Crescent. They are both, apparently,
Swedish. They were wearing a "uniform" of
matching skinny tuxedo trousers, braces and no shirts.
And they looked like they were having fun, hooting
it up as they spun the decks. Considering that modelling
is about the only profession in the world where women
outearn men, I say good luck to them.
one point Cole entered the booth and for a moment
I thought she was about to make some Von Teese moves
on Crescent. No such luck they just enjoyed
a bit of brief fullbody frottage, like two stick insects
brittily greeting each other. Cole and her model mates
then disappeared, presumably to get some beauty sleep
in before the Friday shows.
night kicked on. Richmond popped in and out of the
booth with a microphone in hand. Next thing he was
down on the stage asking people to clear the area.
At one point he reverted to his punk adolescence and
pushed someone straight off the stage.
Von Teese emerged to commence another striptease.
As she began however, something distracted me: Stunners
International started taking off their own clothes
directly in front of me.
were changing out of their uniforms and into their
regular jeans and T-shirts. The Stunners had clocked
off. But they didn't go downstairs and join the party.
Instead they hung around the DJ booth. As became increasingly
obvious to all concerned, that was where the real
party was that night.
played Young Folks apparently now his fave
new track. We all got down. It was getting funkier
and hotter by the minute. I wondered precisely how
I was going to file a news story at 7am the following
this point a black man with dreadlocks and a small
entourage arrived in the booth. Someone handed Adil
a CD and the black dude, a microphone. I was told
his name was Julio. I'd never heard of him and figured,
he was some crap Italian rapper. Although Richmond
must have invited him to the party apparently it was
news to Adil that anyone would be performing like
black dude sang to a couple of tracks from the steps
of the DJ booth. Then a terribly familiar track came
on, the room went off and I suddenly came to my senses.
wasn't Julio, it was Coolio.
he was mouthing off to Gangsta's Paradise in Milan.
you're definitely in a gangster's paradise,"
I felt like telling him.
cameraman who had been following Richmond around for
most of the evening came up into the booth and started
filming Coolio, filming Richmond and filming both
of them singing to the crowd.
quit singing and yes, you guessed it, stayed put in
the DJ booth. The booth's population now consisted
of a delinquent-turned-rap star, two models-turned-DJs,
a DJ-turned DJ-wrangler, a journalist-turned-blogger,
Richmond, the cameraman and a few sundry hangers on.
diminutive woman in a nude-coloured satin bustier
and unattractive black bootleg flares climbed into
the booth and started boogying with Coolio, thrusting
her ample and quite unsolicited bottom
against him right in front of me.
copped a quick feel of the merchandise.
said to Coolio, [pointing to an attractive black woman
in a long dress sitting on the upper stairs] "Isn't
that your woman over there?"
shrugged his shoulders and replied, "I don't
want it I just like to know that it's there."
I couldn't help Coolio with his booty predicament
because I was about to have my own proposition to
suddenly started furiously gesticulating towards me,
then back to himself and Fagerli. He did it a few
times and mouthed a few words. I was pretty sure I
had gotten the gist of it but just for the purposes
of clarity I asked him to confirm, and from memory
no less than two times.
proposal was exactly what I had suspected: a Stunners
International menage a trois.
head reeled back in laughter.
a little bit too Gonzo," I replied.
politely declining of course, I'll never know whether
Fagerli had any inkling that he was being included
in Crescent's deal. Or whether in fact, "Would
you like to bonk two musically-endowed male Swedish
supermodels?" was merely a rhetorical question
in no need of a sensible answer.
music bopped on. The temperature rose. The DJ booth
continued to go off. I looked at Adil and he looked
at me. We both seemed to be thinking, "What the
hell is going on?"
that point, I discovered the long-haired cameraman
who had been filming Richmond all night, madly dancing
on the booth's middle podium, to my immediate left.
Still with camera in hand, he turned it around so
that the lens faced his head and started filming himself
head-banging to the music, with hair swooshing up
this is definitely Spinal Tap," I thought to
suddenly the lights came up. The music stopped. The
magic evaporated. It wasn't Last Drinks, but Outta
There pronto folks. The Stunners, Adil and I walked
outside into a melee of taxis and removal trucks that
were dismantling the venue and went our separate ways
in the cool, autumn Milanese morning.
never look at that Richmond Cornejo microdress in
the same light again.