At Wednesday's amfAR gala, the creme de la creme of celebrities showed up despite the snowstorm. On the red carpet I was following Fergie, the former Duchess of Windsor (not from the Black Eye Peas), and preceded Julianna Margulies. Fergie and I chatted for a second while Rolling Stone interviewed my husband. I was wearing a borrowed black dress by Angel Sanchez that felt--comfortingly--a bit like armor around the torso; I hoped it would help protect me from my frequent bouts of self-doubt and the occasional humiliation of being a celebrity past her prime. I hugged the perennially never-aging Queen Iman, told Chloë Sevigny I loved her in 'Big Love,' to which she responded with a "Thank you," and clearly pronounced my full name--I think it was a compliment. I embraced Nigel and my sister Miss J, my former colleagues who both looked handsome and happy; I reminded Donna Karan that her grandkids go to the same school as my son, and in my favorite moment of the night, I exchanged numbers with one of my favorite women, Brooke Shields.
My husband and I sat at a table with a plethora of delightful dinner companions, Cynthia Nixon and her partner Christine, Michael Kors and his partner X, two beautiful models Maggie Rizer and Georgiana, Camilla Belle, and John Kerry's daughter Alexandra Kerry. This last one was the only one who was a bit standoff-ish, or at least to me. I complimented her on her dress and she just nodded. Ouch. I guess she found me of no significance. But she also appeared to be texting while the rest of us conversed. I felt like telling her I voted for her father, as though she owed me one. Fortunately I came to my senses, shut up, and listened to Michael instead. Michael Kors, with his distinct and bright voice, is an ideal guest at a table of 20; he can carry a seemingly effortless conversation over the din of a thousand people. I gawked a bit at Cynthia, who has the most perfect skin, and is far more beautiful in person than photos would let you believe.
Onstage, Rufus Wainwright sang in a brilliant falsetto and Lady Gaga was a lone powerhouse, but Meryl Streep blew everyone out of the water with her clear, heartfelt rendition of an Irish ditty. She had the room in tears with her tribute to Natasha Richardson.
The real fun, though, was in the ladies' room. I walked in and almost straight into Anna Wintour. "Hi, Anna," I said brightly to Anna's mirror reflection. Her large eyes in her large head flickered. And with the slightest nod, one that may have been a twitch, she left me standing at the sinks. I admit I felt a bit more than slighted, I was after all, on quite a few covers of her magazine, and the glance she gave me is one I'd give to an expired carton of milk. I am aware my expiration date (as a model) is long past, but a slight acknowledgment that I wasn't the bathroom attendant would have been nice.
And speaking of the bathroom attendant... After taking a deep breath, I tried to make my way to the stall, but the non-English-speaking bathroom attendant grabbed my arm and shook her head to indicate I wasn't allowed, and I had to go back in the line that had formed behind me. "But I was here first," I protested. "You know this, you saw me." A sweet voice from behind me piped up to confirm my claim. I turned around to face my benefactress and discovered a beautiful little creature at the height of my waist. She almost introduced herself as if I didn't know an Olsen when I saw one. Mary-Kate Olsen, to be specific. And even better, she knew who I was. At her age! Together we tried to convince the bathroom attendant to let me in the stall, as all the rest of the stalls--three in total--emptied, and the line of women grew. Finally, I took my chances and plunged ahead. When I came out to wash my hands and reapply lip gloss, Mary-Kate was gone and the bathroom attendant scowled and made no further eye contact with me. But Mary-Kate had just completely restored my evening. Bet most people have no idea how fragile the egos of celebrities--especially the has-beens--can be.
Back in the ballroom, speeches were made, awards were awarded, tears were shed and money was collected for a great cause. On my way out I managed to scare Sigourney Weaver in my quest to thank her for looking her age, and almost made a horrible mistake by saying hi to Denise Richards (and ask her what her secret was to looking 20), who in fact was a gorgeous young model named Doutzen Kroes.
As these events go, it's always a mixed blessing for me to be invited. I'm a hopeless homebody; I prefer to cook and knit and hang out with my kids, always worried I'll get snubbed by other famous people, which will make me want to sit at home and post nasty quips on the web under their names. So if you see anything like it about two certain names previously mentioned--sigh--yeah, it's probably me.
*Video: Modelinia Fashion Week TV - Episode 1
*Video: Get to Know Paulina Porizkova
*Slideshow: Red Carpet Style During Fashion Week
*Slideshow: Paulina Porizkova Magazine Covers