Party Hopping with Dirk Desouza
Desouza finds the fabulous in Miami, from hipster drink fests to the most glamorous restaurant openings.
April 09, 2012
Braving the inevitable silicone jokes, the folks from Absolut have sought to define what our town tastes like in their new beverage, Absolut Miami. Of course a massive party was in order, held on the Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s perfectly manicured oceanfront lawn. Thousands of enthusiastic antiteetotalers wasted no time, migrating like wildebeests searching for life-saving refreshments on a breezy, arid night. The soaring stage had cubbyholes holding seminude hotties derrière-shaking to the beats of DJ Ross One, and Temple House resident/serial entrepreneur Dan Davidson and man-model Devin Ludlow sipped the branded concoction as Philadelphian indie-sensation Santigold stormed the stage with her haunting yet empowering “L.E.S. Artistes.” Her existential lyrical question “What am I here for?” seemed answered by the lines at the open bar. But still, when bespectacled hipster chicks screamed the chorus, “I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up if I could stand up mean for all the things that I believe,” believe me, they totally meant it. Apparently the Miami-flavored libation tastes like orange blossoms and passion fruit—sounds about right. As playful as the purple sequins on Santigold’s ironically fab tracksuit.
Belgian imports typically consist of fresh-cut diamonds, obscure fashion designers, and hearty beers, but Bardot, that smallish Midtown stalwart of plush couches, ’60s dome lighting, and generally fantastic music programming, presented Aeroplane, né Vito De Luca, an electronica connoisseur who concocted hits “Paris” featuring Au Revoir Simone and the amazing “Williams Blood” remix for Grace Jones. In a smoky room that smelled of Scotch and slick perfume, the French house, deep house, and nu-disco beats relentlessly pulsed, transporting the crowd to Europe within a roller-coaster of smooth, deeply gratifying aural sensations that created a collective magic, proving, at least to me, that the best music in Miami is west of the Bay.
The Delano hotel, with its notorious “you’d better be special or you’re not getting in” hedge, threw what turned out to be an epic soirée to debut Bianca, its swanky new Sam Robin-designed Italian food spot. Trumpeter Chris Botti and a violinist performing in the pool? Check. Yankee Alex Rodriguez chatting up blondes? Check. Actor Kevin Connolly and baller Sammy Sosa chilling? Yep. Miami’s prettiest people (no joke) in various stages of nocturnal arousal? Unmistakably. In fact, it’s difficult to peg exactly how star-studded and high-level this crowd was. Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel would dub it an 11. Miamian Mickey Rourke, his very presence in some way echoing the relative hotness of his career back in 1995, the year the Delano opened, provided a zeitgeist feedback loop by attending. Also in the crowd: Ingrid Casares, Susie and Walid Wahab, and Carlos Betancourt. Getting into the fête proved sufficiently difficult, as these parties often do, the guest list being carefully curated by a dapper Nick D’Annunzio, power publicist at TARA, Ink., and the evening-attired Lyndsey Grimes-Cooper, power publicist at Carma PR. In this town, I’m surprised publicists don’t have publicists.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY SETH BROWARNIK/WORLDREDEYE.COM
Sing Your Art Out
MOCA’s 15th anniversary party celebrated the museum’s rich history—with plenty of boldfac ed sightings from the art world.
April 09, 2012
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 15th anniversary celebration had somehow conjured up Art Basel. A who’s who of the international art world turned out to fête MOCA, its director, Bonnie Clearwater, and its more than 175 exhibitions since 1996—the refashioned catalogs and printed ephemera of which served as the party’s décor. Mixing and mingling were heavyweight artists across several generations, including New Yorkers David Salle and Frank Stella, Londoners Tracey Emin and Isaac Julien, and hometown heroes Dara Friedman and Mark Handforth. The entertainment for the sold-out evening came in the form of Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson, who opened with a hearty cry of “Hallelujah to the art goddess!” before launching into a vintage German ballad. Of course, this was Berlin by way of South Beach: “It’s 19th-century German Romanticism,” said Kjartansson, “and we decided to add a touch of Miami glitz.” That meant the artist’s stirring ode to the divinity of art was accompanied by a brass band, gloriously crashing cymbals, and not least, a half-dozen Vegas-styled showgirls. This critic’s take? A night that was intellectually sharp, conceptually playful, and, thanks to some barely-there costuming, suggestively eyeraising— a good metaphor for the Miami art scene writ large.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MANNY HERNANDEZ
Criselda Breene Steps Out for Charity
Breene stands out in red at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s splendor in the garden event.
March 05, 2012
Humanitarian, mom, and girl-about-town Criselda Breene popped with color recently at the Splendor in the Garden charity event, where she wore a red and white floral and paisley button-down dress from Roberto Cavalli with nude Christian Louboutin peep-toe slingbacks. The afternoon was filled with fashion and philanthropy, as Neiman Marcus’s senior vice president and fashion director Ken Downing hosted a fashion show showcasing spring’s biggest trends. A Champagne reception and garden tours were also included in the festivities, and the event raised funds for tropical plant conservation. “It was the first year they held this lunch, and it was a huge success,” says Breene. “My friend Tina Carlo was kind enough to invite me, and she’s a very active member of the Garden.” The 300 guests included event committee members Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard and Priya Panjabi. Breene has her plate full with charitable events this year. Next on her list: She’s cochairing the Bass Museum’s annual fundraiser, A Night at the Museum, on April 26.
Jessica White: Golden Girl
The supermodel shines at the Shelborne South Beach.
February 06, 2012
Dress, Diane von Furstenberg Shoes, Christian Louboutin
Headpiece, Marie Galvin Beaded clutch, vintage
Before heading to Sean “Diddy” Combs’s Star Island mansion for his big New Year’s Eve bash, model Jessica White channeled a modern-day Grecian goddess at the Shelborne South Beach. She sparkled in a sequined Diane von Furstenberg dress, crème Christian Louboutin shoes, and a stunning custom Marie Galvin feathered headpiece—all styled by Derek Warburton. Currently a model with One Management, White has strutted the runways of Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, and Tommy Hilfiger, and graced the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition nine times. She’s now the face of Maybelline’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2012 campaign, has created her own skincare line (Devise Beauty), and will release an album later this year. If she sings anything like she looks, it’s sure to go gold.
PHOTOGRAPH BY WORLD RED EYE
Daphne Guinness: All Caged Up
The style icon and heiress wows at the Soho Beach House.
January 09, 2012
Dress, Gareth Pugh
Notorious for her out-of-thiss-world attire and edgy, androgynous style, the artist, fashion designer, and overall icon Daphne Guinness didn’t disappoint during a recent appearance at the Soho Beach House. In town to showcase her new Daphne Guinness for MAC collection, she wore a custom Gareth Pugh cage dress that echoed her leather-strapped makeup box designs. The cosmetic collaboration—filled with various shades of plum, lavender, and taupe—nods to Guinness’s trademark look. Wearing the pigments (in stores now) along with blue contacts and a black veil, the heiress celebrated her line at a private dinner and cocktail party with such notables as China Chow, Bettina Prentice, and Miles Aldridge, stating that the collaboration “is a window to my imagination.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK MCMULLAN
Day of Wine and Poses
From a Bryan Ferry love-fest to amnesia’s second coming, social scenester Dirk DeSouza has Magic city nostalgia covered
December 05, 2011
Hopeless romantics may seem tragically lost in the 21st tech century, but we were all saved recently as Bryan Ferry, the legendary crooner who has been oozing, professing, pining, and surrendering to love since his Roxy Music days, breezed onto the stage at The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater. The crowd was immersed in his cool, dapper vibe and wowed by a crazy-good band, touring behind Olympia, his crazy-good new disc featuring the again-hot Kate Moss on the cover. Screaming women? Everywhere. The wildly inebriated? Absolut-ly. Ferry prowled the stage in an impeccable, bespoke million-dollar suit, spewing silken lines, his flowing, lustrous locks telling the story of a journeyman.
The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale hosted a five-star, wine-o-rific event for foodies and vino appreciators alike at its Passport to Wines of the World soirée. Imagine 12 sommelier-curated glasses from across the globe, expertly chosen and explained by Don Derocher, before a wall of 425 bottles, surrounded by towers of astrological-sign-themed hors d’oeuvres. Got it? The epicurean fête really picked up steam as master storyteller and wine aficionado Lyn Farmer entertained the crowd, including Tui Lifestyle’s Jacquelyn Quesada, until the wee hours.
Miami Beach’s South of Fifth ’hood received a rejuvenating jolt of Ibizasize nightlife in the form of newly opened Amnesia. Yes, that Amnesia, the now-reborn, from-back-in-the-day outpost of skin, scantily clad women, and explicit partying harking to the best Ferrari-fueled European Champagne dens of yore. Inside, this grand opening featured a backdrop of retina-exploding laser beams and gut-shaking Funktion-One sound. Renovations have made the place huge and roofed, with VIP tables around a dance floor big enough to let you know that music is definitely a priority. Co-owner Bob Sinclar, deeply tanned and looking St-Tropez rich, casually strode onstage and blew the place up. Singer Craig David, Casa Tua’s Miky Grendene, and WSVN’s Louis Aguirre held court.
The Miami Design District is a hotbed of activity, what with Louis Vuitton moving in, Luminaire firmly implanted, and MAD initaly now open. The latter expertly hosted an intimate MAD VIP dinner party to celebrate owners Nadine Curmi Borgomanero and Fabrizio Cocchi’s vision of celebratory Italian décor. Hostess Marysol Patton charmed guests such as interior designers Barrie Livingstone, James Wall, and Hernan Arriaga as the intimate crowd sipped Prosecco and spoke of Buenos Aires, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro hotels and restaurants with jet-setter specificity. Dinner in a furniture store? Yes, please—it was actually quite cool. The torrential, hurricane-like downpour that unexpectedly trapped guests, forcing another round of bubbly and great conversation? Well, yes—that ended up being cool, too.
Talking Art with Louis Vuitton
Susie and Walid Wahab show off their love for the arts and fashion.
October 31, 2011
Louis Vuitton president and CEO Valerie Chapoulaud-Floquet hosted an intimate conversation and dinner with Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and Gringo Cardia, the director of Rio de Janeiro’s SPECTACULU nonprofit arts and technology institute. The Art Talks event, held at the Design District’s M Building (formerly the Miami outpost of Galerie Perrotin), attracted a who’s who of Miami’s culturati. Looking particularly elegant were Susie and Walid Wahab (pictured), longtime fixtures on the city’s arts scene. “Our involvement started with the junior committee for Art Basel, and then the Collectors Council at MAM,” explains Walid, who owns Wahab Construction. Now I’m on their board of trustees.” The couple was celebrating more than Muniz’s Louis Vuitton logo installation that night: “It was also Susie’s birthday,” Wahab continues. “So it was great to spend the evening with so many of our close friends, and have the chance to meet and talk to Vik Muniz for the first time. [Attending this event was] a decision that we did not regret!”
Tequila Time at the Ritz-Carlton
Herradura Tequila joined forces with The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne for a spectacularly chic fiesta.
October 10, 2011
Veronica Aguilar and Eduardo Hapke at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne
The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, the pleasingly off-the-radar luxury lodge nestled on the beach near President Richard Nixon’s former home, hosted a spectacular dinner (lobster stuffed with more lobster, anyone?) in honor of Herradura Tequila to celebrate the hotel’s 10th anniversary. Mariachi bands, snapshots, specialty cocktails and guests such as Veronica Aguilar, Eduardo Hapke and Myk Likhov contributed to moods from civilized to silly. Exactly how a Magic City party should go.
Pharrell Williams Launches a Liqueur
The Miami resident and rapper unveiled his new drink, Qream, at LIV.
October 04, 2011
Pharrell Williams—the sometimes-Miamian who rests his shiny kicks in Ugo Colombo’s former penthouse digs at Brickell’s Bristol Tower—launched a new liqueur at LIV cleverly named Qream. Rolling in an hour late, wearing shorts (David Grutman let him in?), the superstar musician/ entrepreneur led a private tasting of the strawberry-flavored ladies-focused concoction, pausing only occasionally to trade good-natured barbs with thick-skinned Diageo reps as TV reporters like NBC Miami’s Sharon Lawson clamored and swooned. Pharrell, fittingly smart, funny and cool, explained that the libation’s vibe and bottle design were inspired by the legendary Marie Antoinette. The afterparty featured hundreds of women (by design), including perky social-media maven Bette Ann Schlossberg, with trays of Qream served by towering white-toothed male models ready to please.
W South Beach Turns Two
Theophilus London tore up the stage at the hotel's birthday fête.
September 26, 2011
The W South Beach, that gleaming oceanfront jewel that makes some of the adjacent properties look downright forlorn by comparison, celebrated two years on the scene with a whiz-bang poolside performance by red-hot rapper/ singer/noisemaker Theophilus London. He didn’t disappoint—not even close—tearing through track after track with smiles for miles and that superstar charisma few possess. An American flag draped behind his riser was a killer touch, indicating to the crowd—including Purdy Tran, Joshua Bailer, Zac Courtney and Dustin Heil—that this Trinidadianto-Brooklyn import is indeed one of us.
Theophilus London at the W South Beach