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It was an interface of New York and L.A. fashion heavyweights: Barneys CEO Mark Lee with KCD’s iconic fashion PR man Ed Filipowski; Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman and Barneys VP Daniela Vitate with L.A. designers Jennifer Meyer (who brought husband Tobey Maguire for a rare fashion-world appearance), Irene Neuwirth, Raquel Allegra, Co’s Justin Kern and Stephanie Danan, George Esquivel, Monique Lhuillier, Andrea Lieberman of A.L.C., Juan Carlos Obando, and Greg Lauren (with actress wife Elizabeth Berkeley), as Barneys Beverly Hills revealed its fabulous facelift — an unveiling of sorts — on Wednesday night.
The first floor has become a wonderland of all shiny new fall shoes, handbags and jewelry, while the fifth floor is now an emporium for mens’ shoes and sleek suits, along with the welcome addition of Barneys’ new restaurant, Freds, from New York chef Mark Strausman. Floors two, three and four awake their own transformations in the future.
Maguire and Berkeley added star power, as did a visit from Melanie Griffith, but the L.A. designers who make up a large portion of the store’s featured jewelry and clothing were the real stars of the evening. And funny how a party in a store brings out the inner shopper in people. Showtime’s Trisha Cardoza purchased shoes while actress Alana Stewart held court in the same department. Jeans were getting spray-painted live on floor three, and the glammed-up crowd kept traversing the winding circular staircase up and down, as if they were in New York’s Whitney Museum. Barneys creative ambassador-at-large Simon Doonan hung out on floor one with blogger-filmmaker Ari Seth Cohen, whose new doc Advanced Style (from his popular blog) showcases Doonan’s colorful style along with fashionable women over 60. Doonan also moderated the New York panel after the premiere.
At the dinner, the achievements of HOLA — Heart of L.A. charity — were made into a short documentary film by Melody McDaniel about helping underprivileged city kids accomplished their goals through funds from the nonprofit group. In fact, a whole orchestra of kids serenaded the first floor as they walked into the five-story tiered event.
Afterward, the crowd were invited to the glamorous after-dinner, set on the new and old fabulous open-air patios of Fred’s, descended on the fifth floor, where they were surprised to see Italian designer Luciano Barbera himself in front of a display of his archival suits. “I’m the last of the Italians arguing for better rules on the ‘Made in Italy’ tags,” he explained. “Many of the other brands have parts made in Italy, part China, part India — all of my suits are fully made in Italia.”
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