Those who know about such things will tell you that the annual Marc Jacobs holiday party — a themed masquerade ball — is the premier event of the season. It was held last night, and we can tell you that they are correct. Tons of food, free-flowing booze, elaborate costumes, lots of exposed flesh: It's good to be a fashion designer. Party-hopping Julia Allison stopped by to check it out, and she also went to the quiet, refined party for still-to-launch Condé Nast Portfolio. You'll never guess which was more fun.
• "A-fucking-plus-plus." That's how Marc Jacobs employee Brooke Watt grades her company's third annual themed holiday gala. Held in Gotham Hall's seven-story, gilded ballroom, this year's celebration was dubbed "A Night in Venice," in honor of Jacobs's friend Sophia Coppola's recent historical biopic. Jacobs employees from Paris, Italy, Japan, and L.A. were inside, each permitted a plus-one, mingling with assorted Friends of Marc: Amanda Lepore, Richie Rich, André Leon Talley, Damon Dash. We lacked the appropriate costume (perhaps for the first time in our life), but we wiggled our way in to gape at the amazing spectacle. And: Wow. We'd never seen anything like it. Ever. "This is probably the best spirit, energy, effort I've ever seen in a party," gushed Watt, who flew in from L.A. for the event. "The sexuality was off the chains." (Yes, she said "chains.") Feathers were released from the ceiling at one point. Gold confetti littered the floor. Costumes were mandatory, even on wait staff. Guests were in full-on period regalia, with bustles, hoop skirts, and five-foot panniers, all vying for the top prize in the costume competition. "It's like a rave with a lot of drag queens dressed like Marie Antoinette," commented Jacobs shoe designer Jackie Yermus, who said people had known the theme — and therefore been planning their outfits — for three months. One guy had a birdcage on his head; another, a chandelier. Masked, body-painted go-go dancers gyrated on ten-foot-high columns. Marc himself was dressed as a pastel blue pigeon. (All he'd tell us: "I love New York!") Enormous buffets lined the perimeter, piled with bizarre combinations of food: apple strudel, couscous, chicken skewers, garbanzo beans, and brownies. Alcohol proliferated, so did "sooo many drugs," we were told. At one point, on cue, everyone broke into a waltz; Jacobs had apparently sent his entire staff to lessons. "Very, very, very, very gay," said one guy. Well, yes. But also, as another said: "Holy shit, it was fucking amazing."
Verdict: Food: 4; drink: 4.5; venue: 5; debauchery: 11; exclusivity: 4
• Then for something completely different: Condé Nast Portfolio hasn't yet published an issue, but last night was the forthcoming mag's second annual holiday party. It's a magazine about business and dealmakers, so the party was held at the oak-paneled Brandy Library, which New York has named "Best Place to Close a Deal." With a launch date still months away, the well-heeled crowd of about 80 looked relaxed and (uncharacteristically for magazine people) optimistic. With no one manning the door, we waltzed in and found waiters serving upscale finger foods: brioche with caviar, lamb in blankets, snowflake cookies stamped with the Portfolio logo. Yummy! If there was music at all, it was very faint; no dancing was even contemplated. "Joanne and David" — that's editor Joanne Lipman and publisher David Carey — "gave a toast at 7:30," flack Perri Dorset told us, "and then everyone did a scotch tasting." Sexy! "Usually the holiday party is a painful ritual," said Washington editor Matt Cooper. "But everyone here wasn't working together last year, so it's still fresh, more like a getting-to-know-you party." Anything particularly exciting happen? "Well, K-Fed wasn't here," said the amateur stand-up comic. "I want to put that rumor to rest." Hilarity!
Verdict: Food: 4; drink: 4.5; venue: 4.5; debauchery: 1; exclusivity: 3.5