The art of parties and beyond

H&M, Central Park
Apr. 20, 2005: If you think "H&M live from Central Park" sounds like the must-have concert ticket of the year, that was kind of the idea. At Rumsey Field, along one of the park's small winding roads, through a complex of tents, and past a 16-foot curtain with more roses than the Rose Parade, the Swedish fast-fashion chain held a super-sized fashion show billed as the largest in New York's history and rumored to have cost $7 million. Eight hundred VIPs and 150 models descended (as did a piano later, from the ceiling) on the custom-built, temporary space as flashy projections on four giant video screens set the tone for the massive, multi-themed fall 05 collection. Looks ranged from piled-on Mongolian woolly and handcrafted American tweedy to Marie Antoinette boudoir-glam and early 80's Berlin New Romantic, all realized by H&M's head designer Margareta van den Bosch and styled by Lori Goldstein and Bill Mullen. From eyeful to mouthful (or, in our case, lapful), dinner arrived in the form of beef and lobster served in suitably Scandinavian square white trays, followed by some jamming by R&B pianist John Legend with violinist Miri Ben-Ari, then by Grammy-hoarding hip-hop superstar Kanye West, who was received by more than a few whoops. After settling back down in our comfy picnic-style benches, we began noticing something peculiar—we were hearing the identical conversation in each ear by two very different people in what we can only describe as an utter breakdown of age-gender-economic divides. On one side, H&M CEO Rolf Eriksen deadpanned to us that "the U.S. is the next big market for the company," adding, "H&M is about fashion and quality at the best price." And on the other side, model Elise Crombez squealed that she was "so happy to walk in something that the average girl can afford," adding, "You can buy it in every color and not break the bank!" Obviously, H&M's message has been received, as if anyone needed any more proof. Other fans in attendance included Maria Full Of Grace's Catalina Sandino Moreno, Helena Christensen, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas, Patricia Field, Law & Order's Mariska Hargitay, actress Piper Perabo, American Idol dropout Mario Vasquez and that designer Oprah Winfrey rescued from the clutches of obscurity. But, really, it was about the models—and there were more of them than at a used car lot (sorry, yes, we've used that line before). Most mingled with the crowd after the show, including Alek Wek, Jessica Stamm, Missy Rayder, Karen Elson and a tequila bottle-toting Erin Wasson, a pro for whom the once-every-five-years extravaganza is probably just a walk in the park.

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