The Hamptons' "Modern-Day Gatsby": Diddy's White Party Turns 20

6th Annual P. Diddy White Party 2004 - Getty - H 2018
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

The hip-hop mogul made an over-the-top splash in 1998 with the first of a series of the lavish gatherings.

In 1998, Sean Combs — aka Diddy — announced his arrival in the tony enclave of East Hampton by throwing a Labor Day party at his new house on Hedges Banks Drive. What the hip-hop mogul delivered was the inaugural installment of a series of summer White Parties that eventually moved to St. Tropez and Beverly Hills. "I remember the first party he threw in the Hamptons," Paris Hilton tells THR. "It was iconic and everyone was there."

Hilton likens Diddy (now 48 and a judge on Fox's The Four) to a "modern-day Gatsby" for how he pulled together a 1,000-person guest list and successfully imposed a strict head-to-toe white dress code. "Having an entire party all dressed in white was a stunning sight," says Martha Stewart, a guest at the first party. "And it helps that Diddy looked very handsome in white." (Director Catherine Hardwicke recalls wannabes being turned away for beige or black shoes.)

"The people in the Hamptons thought the first party was the end of the world," explains Steven Gaines, author of Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons. "They were afraid of a noisy showbiz crowd and thought it was going to be an invasion, and it turned out not to be." The last White Party went down in Beverly Hills in 2009, and despite Diddy talking late last year about a return, no 2018 date has been announced.

This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.