By Jim Shi Posted January 11, 2013, 1:19 PM EST
NEW YORK For her first presentation uptown, Stella McCartney chose the Americas Society on Park Avenue, a landmark beauty where the close quarters provided an intimate atmosphere ideal for the restrained guest list and designed to encourage interactivity.
“It's truly the smallest venue we've used for a Stella event,” said Owen Davidson, principal with Anne Landy at AO Production, McCartney's long-time New York event production firm. “Stella's events have always had a funky downtown vibe, so we purposefully thought it would be interesting to move it to the Upper East Side with a more serious take on the venue.” (However, Davidson did confirm that McCartney's June resort presentation will be held downtown.)
As guests—including Elettra Wiedemann, Alec Baldwin, Anna Wintour, Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Koons, and Frankie Rayder—entered the McKim, Mead & White-designed mansion, moved past a unicorn-shaped ice sculpture and a forest of trees and ascended to the second floor, they found three distinct rooms. Designed as tableaux vivants, the music room, ballroom, and library each offered a unique backdrop for the pre-fall collection and gave the affair the feel of an intimate, elegant cocktail party.
For example, in the music room a pianist entertained guests in a space where the visuals included hundreds of pink mylar balloons strung along the ceiling and walls and a tower of champagne coupes filled with Veuve Clicquot. In the salon Simón Bolívar, three artists sketched models lounging on Louis XV chaise lounges and sipping champagne; the patterns of their geometric print McCartney-designed evening dresses reflected in the antique gilt frame mirrors on the walls. “I used to do live drawing in school,” said McCartney, “so I thought, 'why not bring an element of that to the presentation?'”
In the wood-paneled library, models sported McCartney's new sustainable optical collection, looking appropriately studious with a game of Scrabble splayed across an ottoman. Nearby, a showcase of accessories was displayed along an entire wall.
AO Production began the build at 9 a.m. the day of the event and finished the strike by 11 p.m. that night. All the freestanding furniture, with the exception of select pieces in the library, were brought in for the presentation, and light towers were erected in all the rooms. “Lighting was crucial in the ballroom because of the artists' sketching,” noted Davidson. However, the tufted walls of the ballroom, along with the sconces and the chandelier, were already in place, and Davidson's team added extra embellishments.
No exterior power sources were brought in for the hair and makeup teams, which took over the second-floor conference room. “There's always less power than you like in an older building—a concern for backstage,” said Davidson, who had also looked at the Pratt Mansion directly across the street. Surprisingly, according to the producer, it wasn't more expensive to host the event uptown; the resort 2012 presentation at the New York Marble Cemetery cost around the same, but offered much more flexibility.
To feed guests, Mary Giuliani Catering & Events created an upscale vegetarian menu intended to fit the Old World aesthetic of the venue. Passed hors d'oeuvres included pumpkin rosemary arrancini, manchego, fig spread, and marcona almond crostini and sweet potato gaufrette with black-pepper cranberry chutney. Dessert consisted of mini bites: apple crumble pies with cinnamon whipped cream, banoffee pies, and sea salt and caramel brownies.