In a match-up between designer Marc Jacobs and former U.S. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, staged before an audience filled with fashion executives and Clinton donors, as well as fashion executives who voted for Clinton, who would be the bigger draw? It was a fair contest on Thursday night at the annual Center Dinner benefit for The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, which honored both Jacobs and Clinton, who each paid tribute to the Center’s rich history as a beacon for their respective communities, activists and politicians alike.
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While the Center has courted fashion donors with lots of festive new events, this gala remains its tentpole fundraiser, garnering more than $1.75 million from New Yorkers who came out to support. And boy, did the crowd go crazy for the main event. Starting things off, Jacobs was introduced by the director Lana Wachowski, whose pastel dreadlocks and idiosyncratic style inspired the look (and some controversy) of the designer’s spring 2017 collection, with a very long yet very winning story that connected the heroics of a 2nd grade teacher to Wachowski’s coming out as a transgender woman at the premiere of Cloud Atlas to the man of the hour, Marc Jacobs. Some highlights:
“I have the fashion instincts of a 6-year-old,” Wachowski said in her remarks. “I have yet to meet a color or pattern clash that did not make me bubbly with joy.” Explaining her connection to the designer, she went on to describe the trauma of finding a dress for the premiere, which would be her public revelation of her gender.
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“Enter the mother of all fashion crises,” she said. “It started innocently enough, as all disaster films do. My wife and I were casually criss-crossing Chicago, searching for the right puzzle pieces to assemble this idealized version of myself.” This search she equated to the Donner Party on the deck of the Titanic, which finally was resolved by–what else?–a Marc Jacobs dress. It was a speech that literally left the designer in tears.
“You’ve got to hug her,” Jacobs said, taking the stage. “I never thought there was anything wrong with being different. I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with being different.”
When it was Clinton’s turn, Arianna Huffington made a funny introduction, thanking the caterers for serving a meringue cake rather than a chocolate one (you know, the most beautiful chocolate cake you have ever seen). “To the long list of things Donald Trump has ruined,” Huffington said, “we now have to add chocolate cake.” While Huffington’s comments were as charming as any, we really must move on to Clinton, who delivered a speech worthy of a campaign, rallying the audience to continue to persist for LGBT fights, given the dark turn of political events in Washington, and even more frightening events in Chechnya. But she also shared moments of levity, and paid a special tribute to none other than Marc Jacobs. She even passed up the premiere of Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! to be there.
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“Besides, being with all of you is a little bit like a very stylish family reunion,” Clinton said, noting that more than a decade ago, Jacobs had produced T-shirts with her face on it. “I was pretty flattered, but of course, you know I’m a fashion icon,” she said. “To top it off, in the campaign last year, he designed another T-shirt and wore it at one of the shows. And I have to publicly thank Marc Jacobs for a million things, including for saying as he did tonight that there is nothing wrong with being different.”