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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Facts of Life Ball

Kendall Herbst goes behind-the-scenes of the world's most festive cause célèbre...

An eclectic, electric mix of personalities, from red-carpet regulars Sharon Stone and Kim Cattrall to the flamboyant fringe of the fashion world, converged on Vienna this past Saturday for the 16th annual Life Ball. Having never been, I jumped at the chance to take a chartered plane from New York to the Austrian capital with a posse of celebs and press, joining thousands of others from all over the world. Our mission was the same: to raise money and awareness for the HIV/AIDS benefit—and have a few shiggles while doing it.

Agent Provocateur's Joe Corre, Linda Evangelista

Many others donated their time, like make-up artist Billy B., responsible for glossing, rouging and blotting over 170 models in an Agent Provocateur lingerie fashion show (with a little help from his team). I chatted with him as he applied fire-engine lipstick to Lily Cole, who skipped the resort shows to be here. "I had to decline last year," he lamented, "because I was working on Pink's I'm Not Dead project. I really regretted that. So I emailed the right people this year, saying I would just come along to help however I could. And they ended up putting me in charge of the whole show's make-up. The inspiration is Helmut's Newton's girls. It's very hard, very graphic, almost militant. What's sexier than that?" Cole chimed in from the make-up chair, black quilted Chanel bag strewn at her feet. "It's my first Life Ball. I decided to come because it's a good cause." What would she wear down the runway? "Oh, a big sack dress," she deadpanned, before taking a Q-tip from Billy B. and fixing her own lips. "No, no, it's Agent Provocateur, of course, so I'm in a black corset thing."

Later, Sharon Stone opened the ceremony with an emotional speech, imploring the audience to fight homophobia on all fronts. "It matters if you stand up for your friend, your co-worker; it matters if you stand up for yourself," she commanded. When the applause died down, thigh-highed models pounded the runway dressed as bikers, street-walkers and other assorted dominatrices. At one point, Amanda Lepore descended from the ceiling, singing the official Life Ball song, The Life. "I love to sing," she said, "but it's a little hard because you have to remember the lyrics."

Backstage, rapper Eve cooed, "Lingerie just makes you feel good. Even if you're in sweats, if you have a cute bra or thong on underneath, you're like damn." Nearby, Lydia Hearst slipped into her outfit for the show: a wide-brimmed hat, a long blonde wig, black lacy underwear and pasties. "It's a little cold," she confessed, "But if I didn't like what I was doing, what would be the point?"

In good news for fans of sequins and glitter, I later caught up with Heatherette designer Traver Rains, who dispelled the rumors of a creative breakup with Richie Rich. "Not true, just media gossip," he sighed, adjusting his omnipresent cowboy hat. "What can you do?"

Party-goers were still filtering out at 5:30. "Best party ever!" shouted one tipsy reveler before stumbling headfirst into a bush. As his friends picked him up, he sputtered, "I'm drunk on champagne and good vibes." And so it was: good vibes, heartfelt volunteer efforts and record-setting contributions (netting the largest total to date: €1.4 million) proved once again what a ball life can be.

Lydia Hearst


Markus Schenkenberg & partiers

Terence Koh

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Kendall Herbst on her great day with a Great Dane...

After logging over fifty blue-chip runways (Balenciaga, Miu Miu, Burberry, Chanel, etc.) at the fall collections and nabbing editorials in Harper's Bazaar (June), W (April), Italian Vogue (March, plus the cover in February), 20-year-old Danish model Agnete Hegelund is breathing the rarefied air her 5'9 stature affords her. Curious about the view up there, I tagged along with the blonde beanpole—and Hint's Model Mania obsession for December—one day last week.

9:00 am: Agnete's alarm clock wakes her up in the midtown model apartment where she's temporarily crashing while she's in town. Seven other girls are also bunking there at the moment, so it's a full house. After getting up, she has breakfast by herself, or in her words: "took some yogurt with a cut banana." She slings on her Miu Miu bag (she needs a smaller one so her arm "won't go twice as long as the other") and heads out on errands.

12:00 pm: Agnete takes the subway down to Ford, her agency. We're introduced, and I learn how to properly say her name: Ow-ned He-lund. "Yeah, it's an unusual name, even in Denmark," she reassures me. "People always ask if I have a nickname or something easier. But that would be Aggy, and that's already taken." She then reviews the month's options (industry term for work that could pan out, but doesn't always), after which her agents take her shopping for a Blackberry; she chooses sparkly red. Back at the agency, her agents spend a while getting the phone hooked up while I take the opportunity to ask her about herself. She still lives in Denmark and wants to study medicine after modeling because both of her parents are eye doctors—plus she's a whiz at math and science. "I didn't think it was ever that hard," she tells me, "I like that you have a problem and you have to solve it. It's fun. If I thought history was fun, I'd probably be good at that, but I don't." What does she think is fun? Last week she went to her first Knicks game. "I'm not so sure about the rules, but we got to relax in this private lounge where we could have whatever we wanted. So I like basketball when I get to watch it like that, for sure."

4:00 pm: Agnete and I are off to her first appointment of the day, at Katy Barker agency in the West Village. But first, a pit stop at Starbucks—she's a bit of a coffee nut, as I'll come to see. With a skinny, tall cup in hand (how very fitting), she and I head to the L train. Underground, people stare at the ethereal beauty hovering a foot above me.

4:45 pm: Agnete dips into the Katy Barker agency and chats with a photographer about the weather and her life back in Denmark. She reemerges on the windy street just fifteen minutes later. "It went well," she tells me. "We talked, and he took a few pictures with his digital camera. But you don't know what they're looking at you for, so you never know."

5:00 pm: We hurry to grab a cab because she has to get to a meeting with Terry Richardson before 5:30. Not surprisingly, it takes Agnete, in a short dress and ankle boots, all of four seconds to hail a taxi on Seventh Avenue. Moments later she rushes into the photographer's office on Bowery and meets the man behind the famous instamatic and oversized glasses. They banter a bit, take a few photos and she's out the door by 5:43. "Easy, breezy," she sighs. And so ends her work day.

6:15 pm: With her appointments over, what does Agnete do? She walks to a Starbucks, of course, to meet up with another Danish model. The two will soon meet other friends for dinner and then hit up Ryan McGinley's gallery opening in Soho, along with a flood of other downtowners. But she won't be out too late; she has a Bloomingdales shoot in the early morning.

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