Events / Insights

Up Late: Surf and Turf Soirées

Dirk Desouza reports on this summer’s model-laden, surf-sailing, wine-gushing, rock ’n’ rollicking celebrations.

July 02, 2012

Amid torrential rains, storms spewing icy, nickel-size hail, and choppy seas, the Volvo Ocean Race tacked and jibbed into Miami for a two-week stopover to give its world-class seamen a relaxing respite during the rugged round-the-world sailing challenge. Six multimillion-dollar sailing vessels—shinier and sleeker than a Marni clutch, and sponsored by the likes of Puma and Telefónica—docked by the American Airlines Arena and threw a big-racing village party. But it was the Camper ( the Spanish footwear giant) with Team Emirates—sporting the most visually dynamic boat, liveried in reds and purples—that really knew how to party, chartering a four-story, vodkastocked spectator yacht for 150 sunburned VIPs, who also stayed and partied at the Viceroy Miami hotel for three days. Camper even rented Villa Vecchia, the circa-1928, $20 million, 18,000-square-foot private waterfront mansion on Pinetree Drive, to throw an intimate dinner party in its grand ballroom.

Within days of hosting Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell’s exceptional solo acoustic set and Wilco’s rollicking sonic rock jam, The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater hosted the legendary alt-artrock gods Jane’s Addiction, led by Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell and Ink Master’s Dave Navarro. Part circus—with a pop-up tattoo parlor, hair salon, and magician anchoring the lobby—and part epic rock extravaganza, Marshall stacks ruled as the band summarily and triumphantly annihilated the audience with hits and heaviness. Seminude, princessattired backup dancers dangled from the rafters as Farrell guzzled wine and soul-screamed his way through “Been Caught Stealing,” “Mountain Song,” and “Jane Says,” but it was the kick-your-teeth opening notes of “Ocean Size” that triggered the genuinely violent stage-front mosh pit and crowd surfers. At once tribal, primal, visceral, and relentless, punctuated by the brutal last note of “Stop!,” the band was proud and shirtless, the exhilarated crowd was soaking wet, and within moments, the lobby bars hummed with “Now that was a rock concert!” Hands down—show of the year.

When the Miami real estate market nosedived in 2008, lavish, budgetbe- damned condominium opening parties seemed to die along with it. (Cue the violins.) But as Paramount Bay’s Lenny Kravitz-studded opening party and Ocean House South Beach’s über-fête proved, they’re back. Ocean House has just 18 massive, house-size units, so it stocked its party with models, models, and more models: strutting by the pool, pouring Laurent-Perrier and Stoli, serving caviar (and serving cat-looking plastic surgery victims). The intimate, well-behaved, and beautifully dressed crowd was indeed VIP, the guest list having been “triple-distilled,” as one proud PR rep put it. DJ Irie cranked off the beats from a residence balcony overlooking the pool, while Tara Solomon carefully curated models-with-commoners photo-ops. Did I mention there were models?

Last but not least, magnums of vintage 1979 flowed alongside mountains of lobster-laden paella under the stars as Jordan Wines, the California grape-smashers with killer Cabernets and Chardonnays, celebrated their 40th anniversary with civilized whispers on the Soho Beach House rooftop with about 75 VIPs. The dapper John Jordan, the cowboy-booted playboy CEO of the winery, flew his own Gulfstream jet to Miami along with a bevy of blondes and his private chef. Next stop: Manhattan.



Spring's Top Parties

Taking on this spring's most amusing bacchanals—day and night.

May 07, 2012

The gorgeously executed, over-the-top grand opening of the majestic St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort proved that no town parties like Miami (in case you had doubts). A long journey through throngs of bowing hotel staff (they seem to have hired the most polite peeps to be found in South Florida) revealed a suitably adult, nonetheless Wonkalevel fantasyland by the pool. Killer live music from the Jonathan Batiste band, endless pours of both Laurent-Perrier Champagne and Jordan Wines, and “are you kidding me” food stations (lobster and Wagyu, anyone?) raised the bar for what a Miami fête should be. It’s amazing how a little lobster can prompt some guests to hoard six skewers at a time. Notable partygoers included St. Regis director of public relations Michelle Payer, property general manager Marco A. Selva, mega-developer Tibor Hollo, actress Diane Kruger, fashion designer Jason Wu, and, seemingly out of nowhere, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Adding to the pageantry was the most preposterously beautiful fireworks display in memory, and the band spontaneously marching around the pool deck in a New Orleans-style musical trot. The starry poolside celebration raged until rain forced partygoers inside to The St. Regis Wine Vault, a stunning lobby bar where Batiste’s troupe joined the resident St. Regis band for a jam session, entertaining within sardine-like confines—which only delighted further. So inspired was polo stud Nacho Figueras that he tried his hand at sabering open a magnum of bubbly. Of course, he managed it flawlessly. Some guys have all the luck.

The do-gooders over at The Little Lighthouse Foundation again threw a doozy, this time the third annual Hearts & Stars Gala fundraiser at the palatial waterfront estate of George Wallner. Imagine a mind-boggling, zoo-like display of 800 of the prettiest, most socially influential scenesters guzzling bubbles, Absolut cocktails, and food for miles. Miami’s Real Housewives, film crew in tow, caused a stir (as is often the case these days), and Michael Bay, in town filming Pain and Gain, an ’80s bodybuilding/ heist flick starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, strolled the crowd, lending gravitas to an annual party that’s been gaining quite a bit of buzz for such a young organization. Out by the waterfront, DJ Louis Dee handily provided the tunes atop a Saturday Night Fever-ish glowing white dancefloor. Most memorable moment? Condo pre-partying with stunning models Illya Biederman and Jessica Smith before decamping to the Hibiscus Island-bound bus stocked with 40 models, commandeered by Burton Wilkins III. Welcome to Miami.

“Bungalow”—the word has such lovely connotations of lavish leisure. The W South Beach put its own to excellent use during the Winter Music Conference as Belvedere Vodka and SiriusXM chose the location to invite a few hundred lucky guests to intimately party alongside the likes of DJs Tiësto, Sander van Doorn, Avicii, Kaskade, Dada Life, Ruckus, and none other than legendary producer Timbaland. With vodka seemingly precipitating from the skies alongside the oppressive, cornea-scorching rays, the private lawn beside the private pool next to the equally private bungalow was pumping with DJ beats for three days straight, teeming with semi-clad record execs, artists, sponsors, producers, models, bikini’d promo chicks, and sundry music industry lovers. This mini-Coachella culminated with a VIP dinner featuring Timbaland, “World Hold On” DJ Bob Sinclar, and megaproducer Sean Garrett, who has produced tunes for Beyoncé, Enrique Iglesias, and Nicki Minaj. In the end, Sinclar hit Garrett up for his number, probably hoping the hip-hop hitmaster’s gold dust would sprinkle on Bob’s happy house. Yes, maybe even some (egad!) business took place in the Belve Music Lounge, too.

Serendipity and splendor occurred when Italy’s Officine Panerai needed a yacht to bring awareness to Sailing Heals, a Panerai-supported charity dedicated to on-the-water cancer therapy. Wealthy socialite Loren Ridinger happened to have a spare vintage Feadship floating idle behind her $50 million Miami Beach compound. What ensued was a swanky, ultra-exclusive, lunchtime waterborne soirée off Palm Beach island, with slabs of ahi tuna and bottles of Perrier-Jouët for a handful of doctors, patients, and VIP supporters. One-hundred-sixteen gleaming feet of white vessel, teak deck, and early-century furnishings set the tone. Onboard? Former model Ryan Cook and girlfriend Stacey Kimmel, and an anonymous captain who commands mega-vessels for billionaire Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Key West crooner Jimmy Buffett. Chats of Italian Navy history, seaplanes, and $144,000 timepieces like the black ceramic Panerai Tourbillon ensued. Cancer, at least for that afternoon, seemed held at bay by the gobs of good onboard vibes, flag-flapping winds, and Windex-blue skies.

Since this column is titled “Up Late,” no event rings truer for publication than the recent Guns N’ Roses appearance, and who better to stay up late with on a school night than Axl Rose himself? The band stormed into the Fillmore Miami Beach at midnight with a raucous, relentless, precise aural onslaught for three riff-a-riffic hours until 3:10 am. With nary a Slash in sight, it would be easy to say Guns was no longer Guns. But Rose was a man possessed. A deep ethos of triumphant redemption permeated his very sweaty and literally rose-colored visage. The Fillmore, a historic 2,700-capacity venue, proved a delightfully intimate descent from the 80,000-rocker stadiums that litter the band’s sex-and-drugs history. The show was, in short, an amazing display of perseverance—part Vaudeville, part camp, part guitar world championships, part over-the-top whiz-bangboom rock spectacle—from all eight exuberant members of Rose’s band until the acoustic vibes of “Paradise City,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” and “Patience” finally exhausted the screaming throngs.




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.



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.


—brett sokol


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.







—Christine Borges


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.


—christine Borges


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.”


—christine Borges


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.

—dirk desouza


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!”

by Christine Borges


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.

By Dirk DeSouza

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