Panther Premiere Channels Paris Discotheque

French hip-hop, a marble fountain, an acrobat, and pink casino tables were among the gimmicks at the Pink party.

June 23, 2006, 5:19 PM EDT

Fashioned after a French discotheque, Cipriani 42nd Street was transformed into a pink-hued world of glittering excess, with ostrich feather chandeliers, diamond-strewn tabletops and a 30-foot fountain for the premiere of The Pink Panther.

The Pink Panther premiereCipriani 42nd StreetMonday, 02.06.06, 9 PM to 12 AM
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Columbia Pictures rolled out the pink carpet for some 900 guests to celebrate the premiere of The Pink Panther in over-the-top French style. From blocks away, Cipriani 42nd Street's facade could be seen awash in pink lights and decked out with two 10-foot-tall flaming torches—a detail inspired by the many
flaming cocktails ordered by Steve Martin's character, Inspector Clouseau, throughout the film.

Inside the venue's massive hall, The Pink Panther's stars, including Martin, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jean Reno, found a world of French excess. Soaring floral arrangements mixed with pulsating music, feathers galore, and pink-hued walls to create an ambiance identical to that in the film. The central focus point of Cipriani's main hall this night was a mirrored circular bar that featured an elevated, 30-foot marble fountain in its center, made by Keith Greco of Greco Decor.

“The whole concept behind this look is that the guests walked right out of the theater and directly into the movie,” said event producer Chris Benarroch of Los Angeles-based Benarroch Productions, who also wanted the event to be as glamorous as the much-photographed Knowles. “This venue could literally be a scene from the film.” Benarroch continued that the affair mimics Clouseau's silly character, who is often rebuffed by the über-conventional French society portrayed in the movie. “Where better to throw a wildly fun party in a conventional backdrop than Cipriani? The idea was to design an over-the-top Parisian nightclub, complete with a casino, acrobat, and a disco,” she said.

Dozens of white-coat-clad waiters lined the front hall to check jackets and hand out pink bellinis and Cosmopolitans, the event's signature cocktails. Drinks in hand, guest passed through Collage Floral's two 15-foot-tall floral arrangements that mixed white polo roses, Casablanca lilies, amaryllis, and pink quince branches with white ostrich feathers and crystals. Gold columns made of thousands of hand-painted galax leaves encased the arrangements. “We went with a French disco theme,” said Collage Floral's Kimberly Mendoza of her elaborate floral creations.

Pink velvet banquettes with gold fringe lined the hall's interior room, and the 20 cocktail tables were outfitted in gold two-tone silk linens. Collage's white rose and feather table centerpieces were placed in glass cylinders filled with pink water and oversized glass “Pink Panther” diamonds, which mimicked the diamonds that Clouseau hunts for throughout the film. “Our party was able to capture the essence of The Pink Panther—all pink, all diamonds, and flawless,” said Mary Powell, director of special events at Columbia Pictures, who with Allison Bossert, vice president of special events at Columbia, hired Benarroch to produce the event. And the venue's marble floors were covered up with—surprise—pink carpeting.

The mirrored bar top was made of faux marble and the structure itself was swathed in cheeky, pink velvet-embossed wallpaper, also adorned in gold fringe at the bottom. After quenching their thirst at the glitzy main bar, guests lined up for Cipriani's Italian-French fusion buffet, which included croque monsieur, baby lamb chops, and tagliardi with lobster thermidor. (The buffet was Martin and Ben Stiller's first stop.) Two buffet lines stretched along both sides of the main hall, allowing for little to no wait.

Just beyond the bar were two eight-foot-tall white ultrasuede ottomans and a white tile dance floor, where partygoers grooved to French disco tunes and hip-hop spun by DJ Cassidy (a favorite of Knowles and her boyfriend, Jay-Z, who was a no-show). At 10:15 PM, an acrobat called the Acroback Mirror Man arrived on the dance floor, removed his black cloak, and was lifted 50 feet in the air, where he performed five minutes of acrobatic, dancelike moves, literally resembling a human disco ball, among 15 multicolored, 20-foot-tall ostrich feather chandeliers bedecked in crystal beads.

For additional entertainment, guests gambled with fake chips at the pink, paw-shaped poker tables lining the main hall. Smash Party Entertainment dressed actresses in flamboyant French girl outfits to staff the casino tables, and male models in French police costumes to pose with guests in a photo op area. Another actor in a Pink Panther costume roamed the venue throughout the night, shaking hands and posing with the celebrity guests.

Tatum Thompson

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