Golden Globe Parties Return With (Most of) the Familiar Grandeur

In a year marked by economic woes and the memories of last January's canceled show, at least three big annual Golden Globes parties brought the familiar grandeur back to the Beverly Hilton.

By Alesandra Dubin January 12, 2009, 12:19 PM EST

HBO's Golden Globes bash

Photo: Gabor Ekecs

Last night's all-star Golden Globes banished some of the memories of last year's scaled-back press conference with a presence that may have been as glitzy a spectacle as ever—or at least since 2007. Although organizers behind parties like the Weinstein Company's annual awards-night biggie axed their celebrations in this year's tough economy, some newcomers like AMC joined the fray inside the celebrity-and-media-mobbed Beverly Hilton. And a trio of annual parties decked the buzzing hotel with roughly as much production-heavy grandeur as their previous incarnations.

NBC Universal brought about 400 people to a viewing party, and about 800 for an after-party in the same space, where sponsor Cartier showed off jewels from its vault in Paris. The over-the-top baubles in cases made for eye-popping decor that complemented the metallic and black look created by Angel City Designs, whose Mark Yumkas described the space as “a very classic Hollywood look with a contemporary twist." 

Bright white dominated flower arrangements of hydrangeas, lilies, roses, and tulips atop bars and tables. Cutouts in Art Deco-looking patterns allowed orange-toned lighting to shine through black walls. Clusters of black chandeliers soared over the dramatic party space, and plasmas outfitted a double-sided water wall for an opulent centerpiece. The screens showed a live feed during the show, and replays cut with logo loops afterward.

The set pieces had originally been intended for last year's canceled fete, and sat in storage until last night's debut. NBC Universal had paid for much of the party's cost last year—perhaps actually buffering the event somewhat from the sharp economic turn of recent months.

HBO's party, produced by the network's vice president of special events Eileen Rivard, took over its usual haunt at restaurant Circa 55 and the adjoining pool area—and the line to get in from the Hilton's lobby stretched 90 minutes at some points in the evening. A security guard at the head of queue suggested, “It's the worst this year [in terms of crowding] because there are fewer parties. Everyone's at the three big ones.”

The network's long-time go-to designer, Billy Butchkavitz, took his design inspiration from the architecture of Luis Barragán and vintage '60s textiles, washing the space in banana yellow and chocolate brown. Twenty-foot-high yellow walls lined the perimeter of the party space, and reproduction period furniture upholstered in yellow leather created outdoor lounge areas with glass and chrome fire pits. Fabrics in vintage designs covered furniture and lampshades. Waitstaff at the party donned yellow jackets embellished with brown Swarovski crystal HBO logos. DJ Qool Marv supplied the music, and Images by Lighting and Bart Kresa were responsible for the yellow-dominated lighting and projections that showed moving images within HBO's logo against an animal print backdrop. Torches floated on lily pad-like structures in the hotel's sweeping pool on an unseasonably warm evening following an 80-degree day.

Circa 55 and hotel's executive chef, Katsuo Sugiura, provided the menu of passed hors d'oeuvres and buffets, including salmon cakes on crispy wonton skin, smoked duck with grilled pineapple, and truffled mac and cheese. Desserts—all designed around the yellow and brown color scheme—included mousse in chocolate and lemon, lemon bars and chocolate brownies, and lemon and chocolate cupcakes.

In Style magazine and Warner Brothers Studios' 10th annual party, overseen by Time Inc.'s Cyd Wilson, took over the Hilton's Oasis Court with a French theme. Designer Thomas Ford drew inspiration from artist and interior designer Tony Duquette, using a color palette of magenta, burgundy, and silver to create the look. Away from the main courtyard party space, the party's annual Godiva Gold Lounge offered guests chocolate truffletinis, and chocolate sculptures served as decor. Chocolate made its way into the design of the lounge's walls and furniture, all inspired by the Godiva Gold Collection. During the evening, L’Oreal artists offered make-up touch-ups, and the 10-piece Cowling Band provided entertainment.

Anne Hathaway, Kevin Bacon, and Heidi Klum were among the stars who posed in front of the step-and-repeat at the bash—and among the A-list group that thronged the hotel for the Golden Globes' (mostly) revival year.

Update: Photos from the In Style party are here.

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