The week before the Grammy Awards was alive with activity, and invitations for pre-Oscar events echoed news out of Washington, DC that the economy was improving and people’s spirits were rising once again. On February 9, the same night Whitney Houston partied with friends and unknowingly gave her last public performance (a brief rendition of ‘Jesus Loves Me’) at one LA club, fellow soul firebrand Mary J. Blige took the stage on behalf of the children of Africa. Her performance was bright, focused and flawless.
That fateful Thursday, Hollywood’s Avalon ballroom was adorned with scarlet and silver embellishments that would have done Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann proud. It was glamour for a good cause—for Red, whose corporate partners and events have generated over $170 million for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This money, which Belvedere has helped raise in the past year, has supported HIV–Aids programmes that have reached more than 7·5 million people affected by Aids in Africa.
‘Red and Belvedere are perfect partners for a number of reasons,’ Gibson affirms. ‘Though we could do small campaigns on a local basis, we decided to put all of our eggs in this one basket and do something special on a very large, upscale platform amid the 35 countries we’re available in. Also, Red has such an impressive list of partners, including Apple, Nike, Gap and Converse, which add to the scale of activation in what we’re doing for the cause.’
The Tuesday before, the intrepid Hollywood publicist Doris Bergman took over perennially hip West Hollywood restaurant Café la Bohème for her fourth annual Valentine Romance Oscar Lounge & Party, which not only prepped A-listers for their Oscar, Grammy and formal charity viewing parties, but also shined a light on Operation Dress Up, a California non-profit organization launched by teenagers.
In a pleasant reversal of Oscar season giving, invited guests who came to check out the latest trends donated new or slightly worn clothing to boost the self-esteem of deserving children and teens throughout Los Angeles county. Criminal Minds boss Joe Mantegna turned a few heads by showing up with a box-load of clothing so big that his assistant had to help him carry it into the venue.
As usual, Bergman could be proud of the turnout of talent from movies, music and television, including fellow Criminal Minds star Thomas Gibson along with Michael Clarke Duncan, Louis Gossett, Jr., Eric Roberts, Judd Nelson, Kimberly Elise, Kevin Eubanks, Rosa Blasi, Marina Sirtis, Obba Babbatunde, Omarosa, Castle’s Tamala Jones, Marisa Ramirez, Sofia Milos and William Shatner.
The red carpet feeling stretched indoors with miles of style, paved with finery from Art Lewin & Co. Custom Clothiers, Lyon’s socially conscious Rock the Vote jewellery, Michael Marcus Cosmetics, Nu-4-You Eye Make-up Fallout Protector, exotic daytime bling from Lusciouss Jewelry and Twisted Silver, evening bags and accessories by Charlie Lapson, hats designed by Baron Hats (whose headgear can be spotted in Oscar-nominated and critically acclaimed films such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, flattering cocktail dresses from Single by Galina Sobolev, vintage-inspired accessories by Road Kill Boutique, and fully loaded male grooming kits from Nickel Skin Care Line.
As final preparations for the Grammys were underway at Staples Center, the on-site destination planned by Distinctive Assets once again did not disappoint. This time, DA founder Lash Fary got a little metaphoric with the event theme, as many celebrities always feel like kids in a candy store when they visit a gift lounge. ‘To be part of music’s biggest night on any level is as thrilling today as it was thirteen years ago when we created the first ever Grammy Gift Bag,’ reflected Fary.
Anchor sponsor, Lasio, treated nominees and other celebrities to signature gift sets, and you could transform your home into a nail salon with Red Carpet Manicure’s of-the-moment gel manicure system. Also, Lash’s event just would not be complete without Gibson Guitars and the latest video game craze (this year, Just Dance 3). However, there were other fantastic and highly practical things for every room of the home. ESP: Essential Safe Products offered a bevy of non-toxic, eco-friendly and reusable products for the kitchen, while gourmet chocolates from Emanuel Andrén were ideal for a too-pretty-to-eat coffee table presentation. Walk-in closets everywhere got a comfy boost from knitwear company Belldini chic women’s apparel, Butterfly Twists foldable ballet flats, Rider Sandals, Simone I. Smith’s candy-inspired baubles (benefiting the American Cancer Society) and lots of ’80s- and ’50s-inspired style from Solstice Sunglass Boutique.
Even with the party under way at Staples Center, history was in the making across town at the Beverly Hilton with the quiet passing of Whitney Houston. Many famous guests emerged from rehearsals or meeting up with friends at the Distinctive Assets fête with the watershed news that put fame, glamour and indulgence into a very unexpected perspective.
Even as the show continued to go on during the week leading up to the Academy Awards, Whitney was never far from people’s minds, hearts or lips, even as they proceeded to get on with the business of the week. An interesting side effect of Whitney’s passing was that it put the charitable elements of many of the suites into even sharper focus. With so many products this award show cycle focused on getting celebs to think about wellness, nutrition and self-preservation, it struck me as particularly sad that a woman with so much talent, resources and reasons to live at her disposal did not care for herself as she should have.
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In a pleasant reversal of Oscar season giving, invited guests who came to check out the latest trends donated new or slightly worn clothing to boost the self-esteem of deserving children and teens throughout Los Angeles county. Criminal Minds boss Joe Mantegna turned a few heads by showing up with a box-load of clothing so big that his assistant had to help him carry it into the venue
Elyse Glickman is west coast editor of Lucire. Bonnie Carroll, Cheri Fox and Elva Zevalos contributed to this coverage.
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