The art of parties and beyond

Sep. 7, 2005: With a half-mast American flag fluttering crisply overhead in honor of Katrina victims, a Russian fairytale unfolded at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Roustam Tariko, the dynamic Richard Branson-like tycoon who founded the upscale Russian Standard Company, pulled out all the stops and then some for the U.S. launch of Imperia, his newest premium vodka. After a JFK-like security shake-down at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, a primped and pulled, suited and stilted crowd was ferried to Liberty Island. There, along a candelabra-lit path and under the Lady herself, martinis and cosmos were immediately proffered—as it should be, always—while iced Caspian Sea caviar atop blinis could be scarfed down just steps away. Farther along the path, on a lawn facing the Manhattan cityscape, 100 Persian rugs were laid out, each with a silver platter of still more vodka and caviar, plus oversized red cushions of which more than a few found their way on the return ferry before migrating to Bungalow 8. (Okay, it was us, but it wasn't only us, and Amy Sacco made us do it.) This was all just the prelude to a full buffet of roasted sturgeon, suckling pig, beef stroganoff and other protein-rich savories. Among those cutting in line for the gourmet grub were, besides us, Dazed & Confused's Jefferson Hack, Damon Dash, Proenza Schouler's Jack McCullough, Donna Karan, Fred Schneider, David LaChapelle, Michael Hilfiger and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, there with a photographer in tow, Gigi Stoll, documenting Carine's daughter for a French Vogue story. Bellydancers, minstrels and fortunetellers snaked through the 1700 hundred or so guests, as did a healthy number of rangers and SWAT officers, when, out of nowhere, a massive fireworks display exploded in the night sky, searing it for a good twenty minutes. Among those oohing and aahing and gurgling were, besides us, celebrity snipper Sally Hershberger, jewelry designer and semi-professional partier Waris, As Four and the evening's two hostesses, Helena Christensen and Natalia Vodianova, the latter accepting a $200,000 donation from Tariko for Naked Heart Foundation, the charity she formed last year to help underprivileged Russian children. Of course, plenty of other models were mugging in force, including Maria Carla Boscono, Haylynn Cohen, Jacquetta Wheeler, Lily Cole and everyone's favorite Siberian, Irina Pantaeva. All the while, floating quietly in the water was a small barge mysteriously equipped with mics, a keyboard and drums emblazoned with interlocking Ds. Some racked their brains to recall which doubtlessly Italian label would so brazenly mimic the Chanel logo (Dsquared? Dolce?), but those who dutifully read the program knew what was in store, a special performance by none other than Duran Duran. Long-in-the-tooth but still foppishly long-haired, the British supergroup rocked the New York supergroup, playing not just the host's personal request, What Happens Tomorrow, but a broad selection of songs new and old. Before long, with the vertical light beam of the World Trade Center site as their backdrop, DD busted out Say a Prayer, a Hint favorite, if only for the lyric and our longtime motto: "Some might call it a one-night stand, but we can call it paradise." And we did.

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