2001-2011: Lavish 'Sex and the City' Premieres

By Brendan Spiegel August 17, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

Photo: Line 8 Photography

Sex and the City may have been an international sensation, but nowhere was its appeal greater than in the borough it celebrated. To build anticipation for each season—and the subsequent films—among Manhattan media types and the show’s many fervent fans, HBO threw a series of increasingly elaborate premiere parties at iconic New York locations.

The fourth-season premiere, in 2001, found guests lounging on pink canopy beds in the Tent at Lincoln Center, surrounded by Sex-inspired decor elements like a sculpture crafted from Manolo Blahnik boxes and shoes. The show’s signature footwear reappeared in 2002, when waiters served stiletto-shaped cookies from Manolo boxes during the fifth-season premiere, held at the American Museum of Natural History. Some 900 guests watched the season’s first two episodes in the newly renovated Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Theater, followed by an after-party at the Powerhouse. The party returned to the museum for the sixth and final season premiere in 2003, but moved to the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. HBO director of media relations for special events Angela Lomascolo—who also planned the previous parties—worked with lighting designer Bentley Meeker to swathe the hall’s giant blue whale sculpture in dramatic green lights. (The late designer Carter Field also worked on all three events.)

When the series hit the big screen, the premiere parties only grew larger—and so did the logistical problems. In 2008, New Line Cinemas teamed with MAR EventsMaria Ruiz to premiere the first film at Radio City Music Hall, followed by a party at the Museum of Modern Art. The franchise’s return was bound to be a spectacle in its hometown, but even planners and staffers seemed in awe of the crazed, bursting-at-the-seams atmosphere. Thousands turned out at Radio City, compelling New Line to book a backup theater for overflow guests, but even that wasn’t enough—other fans had to settle for vouchers to a future showing. Things were calmer later on at MoMA, where a more manageable crowd of 1,200 mingled with Sarah Jessica Parker and her co-stars in a museum bathed in pink lighting.

The film’s sequel premiered last year, and planners were better prepared for the mania, opening Radio City’s mezzanine to accommodate a full 5,000 fans, and moving both the star-studded step-and-repeat and after-party back to the Tent at Lincoln Center. In homage to Abu Dhabi’s appearance in the movie, 15/40 Productions worked with designer Tom Ford to craft an Arabian Nights-themed evening complete with Ultrasuede seating, a gold, sand, and cream palette, and—of course—some pink, in the form of 25,000 floral stems flown in by the Colombian Floral Syndicate.  

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