This Is What It's Like to Spend 90 Minutes Inside GQ's Grammys Party
GQ teamed with Giorgio Armani for an inaugural post-Grammys bash in Hollywood.
Vanity Fair has owned Oscar night for too many years to count by hosting the starriest bash following the Academy Awards on the movie industry's biggest night. But after the Grammy Awards there's no bash that has risen to the top of the music-biz schedule of post-awards stops. Could GQ be making a run for the crown?
The mag entered the mix Sunday night by partnering with Giorgio Armani to host its first-ever Grammys party. And like Vanity Fair, GQ offered time slots for journalists to come, cover and exit against a ticking clock. No complaints about our 11 p.m. to midnight assignment, which was ripe time to catch the well-heeled crowd smack-dab in the center of Hollywood, at the Hollywood Athletic Club, in the middle of what is always a long night and early morning for the musically gifted set.
Here's a rundown of the night, including an extra 30 minutes because we broke curfew (shhhh! don't tell!):
11:04: Upon arriving at the black velvet ropes outside the Hollywood Athletic Club, I ask one of the party reps holding an iPad who is inside. “The Kardashians,” she says, before clarifying, “Well, not Kim. And by Kardashians I mean Khloe, Kendall and Kylie…with Tyga.” Not so fast. Another voice chimes in and says the group has already moved on to another Grammy event and that Khloe is party-hopping with on-off-on- again beau French Montana.
11:05: DJ Kaskade walks down the carpet and inside the club, flanked by a pair of revelers.
11:06: Armani’s Wanda McDaniel walks from one side of Hollywood Athletic Club to the other on her cell phone, looking focused yet calm. The party is separated into an east and west wing. The east wing is the more subdued side with a photo booth, restrooms and a well-lit bar, while the west side hosted DJ A-Trak and several VIP corners with leather seating options.
11:13: Kaskade and Calvin Harris, each holding cocktails, are spotted near (where else?) the DJ booth, but these music maestros have the night off as its DJ A-Trak behind the turntables. They show their friend some love and pose for a few photos. I poll them for their favorite moments of the night, and Harris is quick to say he loved Rihanna (his onetime collaborator) while Kaskade rants about the "boring" show.
11:14: Armie Hammer and his wife, Elizabeth Chambers, walk into the party and stop in front of an eye-catching and artistic GQ logo on the back wall in front of the entrance to pose while being showered with flash bulbs and attention. Chambers puts her hand around her husband’s left butt cheek and squeezes it twice. A pretty partygoer notices and giggles, alerting her female friend standing next to her.
11:20: Fresh from arriving, I see Chadwick Boseman and say hello. The actor, who received rave reviews for his work as James Brown in Get on Up, explains that he loved tonight’s performances by Madonna and Kanye West and he also loved watching the big show from the comfort of his own home. “I’ve been to so many events lately that I wanted to relax before coming out again,” he said.
11:27: Manager Paul Nelson chats with Glee star Darren Criss.
11:34: Judith Hill, holding a glass of champagne in one hand and her cell phone in another, is spotted with a small entourage. She was part of the Grammy-winning team behind 20 Feet of Stardom, which picked up a trophy for best music film. How did it feel to win? “Amazing,” she said, before adding that her Grammy will be sent to her at a later date. As for her highlight of the telecast, Hill admits that she loved Annie Lennox. She seems less sure of what her plans are for the rest of the night. “What else is good tonight?” she asks me.
11:37: A waiter, who looks like he should be featured in a GQ spread, walks by carrying a tray of spicy tuna bites on toasted rice. I ask him what else is on the menu: cheese and beef sliders, bacon-wrapped dates and tomato flatbread.
11:47: I notice GQ editor Jim Nelson breeze past me, walking out of the restroom, holding a glass of chardonnay. I introduce myself and ask him about the party, which he explains is GQ’s entry into the Grammy-weekend party schedule. “It’s a natural partnership for us,” he says, adding that the event is a chance for the publication to toast its own awards-worthy music issue, which recognized the most influential names in the biz. The well-dressed and friendly Nelson called the process of picking the names of potential Grammy winners “a labor of love.” “You hope to hell you’re right,” he laughs. And they were. The night’s biggest winner, Sam Smith, got a prominent spread as did cover boy Pharrell, who seems to be the ultimate GQ star for his impact on style, music and culture. Speaking of impact, are GQ and Armani planting the flag for future bashes on Grammy weekend? “We’re testing the waters,” Nelson teases.
11:48: A dashing Shaun White holds court with a small group of attractive friends. Another handsome server walks by, pushing a tray of sliders, and White politely agrees to pick one up. He holds it for a few seconds before handing it to his date, a striking brunette whose face lights up when presented with the late-night snack.
11:52: Wiz Khalifa, sporting a baby pink beanie, walks in and is ambushed by photographers and iPhone-toting guests, all of whom want a pic of the rapper, who is greeted by Nelson once the crush has leveled.
11:54: After chatting with the GQ editor for a few minutes, he walks through the bash toward a back corner where Ricky Martin has been quietly holding court in a VIP section. Martin chats with Moore, the affable Roberta Armani and McDaniel while "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" blasts in the background
11:56: I say hello to White, who says he’s having a great time and introduces me to his slider-eating date, Sarah Barthel. “She’s been into the music business for a while and I’m just getting started,” says White, who is in the band Bad Things. He’s also fronting the action sports and music event Air + Style later this month in Pasadena.
11:58: Paul Nelson introduces me to actress Elena Satine of Magic City and Revenge fame. “Annie Lennox is a legend,” she tells me of her fave moment of the night. “She’s still got it — she brought the house down.”
12:03: Jason Derulo catches up with Josh Groban in the doorway of the bash.
12:07: It’s after midnight, but Criss isn’t worried. “I have a 12 p.m. call tomorrow, so I have a reason to be out late,” he laughs, adding that Grammy night delivers the chance to catch up with music-industry pals “who are either in town from New York or London, friends I only get to see once a year.”
12:16: It’s well past my cutoff time, but as I make my way to the door, I stop the best-dressed woman of the night, Janelle Monae, who has just said hello to Questlove. “I’m giving love tonight,” she says about her evening plans. “Congratulating my friends who won and just celebrating.” Up next on her agenda is Common's exclusive bash. But first: saying hello to Christina Milian.
12:21: I make my way to the door and pass Monae another time, who introduces me to an artist from New York whom she has signed to her label. “You should be writing about him!” she says; the musician is one of the best-dressed men at the bash.
12:22: For the record, I never saw any Kardashians. Nor did I spot these other notables who were making the rounds: Rita Ora, Mark Ronson, Miguel, Lil Buck, Ezra Koenig, Tinashe, Estelle, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Italo Zucchelli, GQ’s Jim Moore, Robbie Rogers, Mayer Hawthorne, William Peltz, Priyanka Chopra, Jussie Smollett, B.o.B. and Sevyn Streeter.