LOS ANGELES In event designer Billy Butchkavitz’s longtime collaboration with HBO vice president of special events Eileen Rivard, it’s hard to remember a more lavish spectacle than last night's Thai-inspired Emmy party. Of course, the cable network, always a big winner, starts out with more than its fair share of je ne sais quoi before the event is even unveiled, and this year was no exception, with big scores for Entourage’s Jeremy Piven and The Sopranos’ swan-song season.
This year, Butchkavitz transformed HBO’s usual Emmy haunt at the Pacific Design Center’s fountain plaza into a regal Thai fantasy with fabrics, furniture, and objets from the northern city of Chiang Mai. Carpets, walls, tablecloths, seating, and the step-and-repeat wall were cloaked in variations on a rich purple-and-gold floral, including a pattern of lotus flowers enclosing the HBO logo. Popping against that lush backdrop were plenty of mirror-studded gilt objects—including tabletop urns, masks, and carved figures—and elaborately constructed fresh flower chains of purple orchids and rosebuds.
Behind the stage—where DJ Qool Marv spun an eclectic mix accompanied by L.A.-based Thai percussionist Ravi Jakhotia (after midnight, mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and then Piven jumped onstage to man the drums)—were giant carvings of elephant heads splattered with purple light refracted by disco balls. Topping even those in sheer majesty were two back-to-back statues that stood 28 feet high inside the V.I.P. tent, which was open to all. Guests sipped Belvedere Thaitinis (citrus vodka, cranberry juice, Moët & Chandon champagne, and raspberries) and grazed from Wolfgang Puck’s elaborate Thai-flavored buffets of tuna tartare with avocado, braised short ribs in curry sauce, chilled fruit soups, and kafir lemongrass cream puffs.
All the while, Laura Mercier, in the company’s first year teaming up with HBO, provided makeup artists to stand guard against shiny noses as well as gift bags with skin care products and other treats.