It's not every day a publication marks its 100th year, and Women's Wear Daily opted to celebrate its centennial in a big way, bringing about 1,000 people—including some of fashion's biggest names—to a cocktail reception on November 2. Held at Cipriani 42nd Street, a spot more frequently used for large banquets, the trade paper also previewed its auction, a collection of 22 items specially created by influential designers, and tapped British model and singer Karen Elson to perform.
“We wanted to focus on conversation and music, and for it to be celebratory leading up to the highlight moment where Karen Elson sang a sultry, timeless rendition of 'Happy Birthday,'” said Kristen Wildman, director of event marketing for the Fairchild Fashion Group. “Ultimately, we didn't want to make it a ponderous or overlong evening.”
As the 321-page anniversary issue of WWD showcased 100 important moments in fashion, the organizers opted to use the event's visuals to trace the history of the publication, pulling pages and iconic sections from the magazine and using them to highlight the auction item vignettes created by David Stark. “It was a collaborative effort for everyone [including WWD's staff], with careful attention concerning the look and feel of the evening. We worked together to select images from WWD's archives that were incorporated into the decor,” said Wildman.
In that spirit, hundreds of copies of the newspaper formed an entry wall to the reception space and served as the evening's unofficial step-and-repeat. Beyond this oversize installation, Stark employed more WWD issues to craft flowers, wallpaper, and the filling for a fake cake and enlarged images of the paper for life-size silhouettes, the pattern of umbrella fabric, and the backdrop for a vignette. L'Oréal, a key advertiser of the commemorative, even got its own spot at the party. A tongue-in-cheek scene put a mannequin holding a stack of gift boxes and perfume in front of a wall of the cosmetic company's vintage ads.
With an eye to the future of its publication and fashion, the event also brought in a high-tech component. “We worked with David Stark and his team to create an interactive experience that allowed us to show how we, as a company, have moved from the first issue in 1910 and forward into the future. We wanted to use technology in a clever way and create a motion-sensor WWD media wall,” explained Wildman. As guests like Leonard Lauder, Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, Vogue's Anna Wintour and Hamish Bowles, and designers Betsey Johnson, Dennis Basso, and Adam Lippes walked by the wall, their movements triggered the sensor, prompting images from the issue to flip, expand, and move.
The auction—which includes gowns by Armani Privé, Donna Karan, and Alberta Ferretti, a 9- by 11-foot mural made by John Galliano, and a vintage Jeep Wagoneer from Tommy Hilfiger (which mimics the designer's new ad campaign)—runs through November 18 on charitybuzz.com The proceeds will go to each designer's charity of choice.