party report, the new world

The New World
East Meets West At Calvin Klein’s Shanghai Fête; Plus, A Heath Ledger Sighting

Photo: Patrick McMullan

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China, meet Calvin. That was the point of Friday night’s extravaganza in Shanghai, where a derelict warehouse was turned into the world according to Klein for 1,500 of the city’s finest. The company’s top guns—womenswear creative director Francisco Costa and his menswear and CK counterparts, Italo Zucchelli and Kevin Carrigan, plus chief operating officer Tom Murry—were all on hand, as everything bearing the Calvin marque was showcased in a series of striking tableaux. These ran the gamut from a red-lit underwear peep show to a floor of monitors promoting the new CK beauty range to Costa’s spring collection afloat on airborne mannequins. The jeans and menswear installations, meanwhile, inspired a healthy amount of interactivity between the margarita-swilling guests and models—one of Zucchelli’s men, wearing nothing but the controversial leggings from spring, was a big hit with the ladies.

Local celebs like Li Bingbing, Xia Yu, and Qi Qi, hostess of Chinese television’s model search, inspired a respectful flutter of camera phones, but the crowds threw self-control to the winds when Louis Koo walked in. The tanned, chiseled heartthrob from Hong Kong, who is currently tearing up the box office in a two-header with Jackie Chan, needed a flying wedge of bodyguards to escort him to the VIP zone. What did Klein mean to Koo? “Underwear,” he said. He was, however, dressed head to toe in CK, so his reeducation process is underway.

By the end of the evening, the out-of-towners were on a Shang-high, thanks to the potent brew of jet lag, back-to-back interviews, and that giddy Fritz Lang skyline looming on all sides. “There’s something happening here I’ve never felt anywhere else,” mused Zucchelli. The single Shang-low note? The uniformed holdovers from the old order, who tried to close the party down at midnight.

Back in New York on Monday, the Cinema Society’s Andrew Saffir hosted a Tribeca Grand screening of Candy, in which Heath Ledger plays a heroin junkie. Spending time with recovering addicts to prepare for his role made a sobering impression on the actor. “The idea that drugs and alcohol are tied up with being an artist has been glorified,” said Ledger. “Your brain needs to be clean to create, so I don’t think anything could be less true.”

The Aussie’s heartrending portrayal, along with that of his costar and fellow countrywoman Abbie Cornish, wasn’t lost on filmgoers. At the after-party at the Soho Grand Hotel, Ron Howard praised the “bravura performances,” and guests like Claire Danes, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann, and Helena Christensen concurred. Ledger didn’t linger long, though. Eyeing the raw vegetables on the buffet table, he announced to friends, “I’m starving. You guys wanna go get a burger?” Luckily, some cravings can be satisfied.

— Tim Blanks (Shanghai) and Alison Baenen (Candy)