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Fidel Castro and Che Guevara posed for selfies, merengue dancers gyrated in front of a live band, and A-listers turned an iron gazebo into an impromptu VIP room: Welcome to Stella McCartney’s Resort presentation, where the mojitos flowed as freely as the models in voluminous maxi dresses of parachute silk.
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McCartney always attracts a healthy roster of celebs and supermodels to this event — Maggie Gyllenhaal, Alicia Keys, Liv Tyler, Cara Delevingne and Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant and Vanessa Bayer, among them — because they quite simply admire her style. Bryant called McCartney “the essence of cool,” while Gyllenhaal remembered a long-ago purchase, “a sweater I bought on a crazy cold winter day when I had just made a little money for the first time, and I still have it,” she said, adding that she got to know the designer better during preproduction for last year’s BBC/Sundance TV mini-series The Honorable Woman. “We had no money, but we had to make me look like I was a billionaire with great style who had access to whatever she wanted,” Gyllenhaal explained. A chance meeting with McCartney at London’s River Cafe solved that problem. “I said, ‘Stella, can we borrow some clothes?’ and her immediate response was, ‘Absolutely,’ even though we didn’t know each other that well. We’ve been friends ever since.”
With Resort presentations happening in showrooms or other indoor venues all over New York, McCartney chose to set her party amid the Elizabeth Street Garden in Little Italy, long a favorite location for the designer, as a sort of unofficial summer kickoff. “I love this space, and I love celebrating these hidden places in New York,” she said. “I’m part New Yorker, and there are so many gems in little places to be discovered.”
With its statues of muses and stone benches under trees, this enchanted garden proved the ideal setting for McCartney’s collection, which she said was all about “movement, fun, color, life.” As for the most talked-about pieces, those aforementioned maxi dresses in vibrant citrus hues of lemon yellow and orange? “They’re a celebration,” she added.
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From the stilt-walkers in colorful costumes to the multicolored ribbons streaming from the trees, attendees agreed that the party indeed matched McCartney’s exuberant ideas. “When you walk around Havana, it really is like this, music and life in the streets,” said Alan Cumming, whose last visit to Cuba was 15 years ago. On Monday night, he was happy to get into the spirit of the event: “I was just in a Fidel and Che sandwich,” he joked of posing with the actors impersonating Castro and Guevara.
McCartney likewise has visited Havana, “about 17 years ago, and I loved it,” she said, though ultimately one shouldn’t infer a direct connection between the party’s theme and her Resort collection. “I simply wanted to have a fun party, and I think Cubans know how to do that.”
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