By Alesandra Dubin Posted October 20, 2009, 5:58 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES Every so often comes along an event with enough star wattage to nearly overcome the paparazzi waiting outside. Such was the case at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday night. A scant 220 guests came to the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to join the program, and most of those were boldface names—including honorees Katie Holmes, Julianne Moore, Julie Andrews, and Renée Zellweger, and their presenters and industry friends. This year, a 60-foot-long carpet (versus 28 feet last year) helped keep the arrivals scene sane.
The magazine's New York-based special events manager, Caitlin Weiskopf, oversaw the event, tapping Caravents to produce it for the first time. The look was nearly all white, in honor of sponsor Calvin Klein. In the entry area, an Elle-logo plexi wall stood in front of a Four Seasons' fountain, and a gallery of 18 framed images—celebrity beauty shots and imagery that spanned a century—from sponsor L'Oreal Paris lined the walkway. Baubles from sponsor David Yurman decked a display made from materials such as silver trays and mirror detailing, rather than a standard glass case. And at the end of the arrivals carpet, a representative from sponsor Moët encouraged arriving celebrities to sign an oversize bottle of bubbly, which would be auctioned for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. As to the sponsors' integrations, they were “a little more modern, more clean, more integrated," than is typical, said Caravents' Cara Kleinhaut.
Inside the ballroom, white also dominated, with splashes of silver and burgundy. Every detail related to the production—from truss to lighting fixtures—was concealed behind white walls or draping, such that nothing distracted from the clean-looking palette. White carpet covered the floor, and burgundy runners and dahlias popped against the space. Lucite ice boxes on tabletops allowed Moët bottles to be seen. Sueded chairs, high-gloss tables, and plush carpeting created a highly textured look that Kleinhaut described as “very sophisticated, but still with some depth to it.” The build out took two days to load in.
Following dinner of beet Napoleon with goat cheese and lemon herb-crusted Chilean sea bass, a congenial, joke-cracking Alec Baldwin hosted the award program, to many accolades from presenters and award recipients, who suggested he might be a fine Oscar host. (Two writers from The Daily Show assisted in the script writing.) Reels, also produced by Caravents, showed recipients' film accomplishments and preceded each acceptance speech. Custom white lacquer frames surrounded two 16- by 9-foot screens that showed the footage behind the stage, which was topped with a simple Lucite podium—flanked by teleprompters that many speakers claimed were too advanced for their use. (Most opted to read notes or wing it instead.)
Long-time friend Carol Burnett presented the final award to Andrews, who accepted to multiple standing ovations to end the program at close to 11 p.m.—when guests left the room to face the throng of paparazzi waiting outside on Doheny.