Champagne Dreams and Hollywood Nights

Wed. October 17, 2012 12:00 AM
by Terrence Chappell

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Couldn't agree more:

"I only drink Champagne when I'm happy, and when I'm sad. sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. when I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty"
Lily Bollinger

The Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet welcomed the city's jet set to an evening of high fashion, exclusive live auction prizes, and fun, impromptu dance numbers by guests and Joffrey members on the catwalk. Hosted at the newly minted McGrath Acura of Downtown Chicago, matched in sequence Pamella Rolland jump suits, event chairs Kristina McGrath and Sonya Y. Jackson kicked off the night with a VIP reception that featured specialty Skinny Girl cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and an explosive fashion show by fellow Women's Board member and fashion designer Pamella Rolland and co-presented by Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue. The models weren't the only people that were rocking the runway in Rolland's Spring 2013 collection. For $100, McGrath and Jackson opened up the runway for guests to strut their stuff down the catwalk – proceeds went to benefit the Joffrey and programs. Guests were then treated to an all-out dance party of a live DJ set, late-night bites provided by some of Chicago's premiere Food Trucks, and more dancing. Co-chaired by Kristina McGrath for the third consecutive year, this year's 7th Annual Couture & Cocktails attracted 400 guests and raised $275,000 for the Joffrey Ballet's programs and performances.

"The event was a huge success. We exceeded our projected goal. It was an evening filled with red carpet fashion, great food and over 400 Joffrey supporters. I feel very grateful to have had the chance to support such a cultural institution in this city" said McGrath.

It was all gentlemen's talk and style as Haberdash, 607 N. State, celebrated the launch of its Fall 2012 Style Guide. This was my first time at the State street shopping staple, and what an introduction it was for my initial experience. Harberdash invites men to be themselves through style but also challenges them to think outside their closets by offering premium choices of denim, outerwear, accessories, and other style essentials. I got a chance to meet and speak with Haberdash's CEO Jerry Kamhi at the event. According to Kamhi, Haberdash aims to curate a brand that speaks to guys of different fashion senses – from the jeans and T-shirts to the suit jackets and wing-tip shoes. Kamhi also went on to share that Chicago is a great city for the Haberdash brand. The style guide profiled a glossy mix of the city's most dashing, successful men wearing Haberdash's signature fall pieces. Notable models included: Chef Art Smith of Table 52 and Common Threads, Benjamin Newby of Drumbar, Michael Simon of The Bedford, Rob Katz & Kevin Boehm of BOKA Restaurant Group, Danny Sharpiro of Scofflaw, Chef Anthony Martin of Tru, Chef Chao & Mike Schatzman of Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Arturo Gomez of Rockit Ranch Productions, and Chef Bill Kim of Belly Q. Urban Belly, Belly Shack. Haberdash's Fall 2012 Style Guide launch was a great prelude to the store's fashion show at Roof at The Wit.

There are parties and celebrations and then there was Public Chicago's One Year Anniversary Party. Bringing in the boutique hotel's one year with owner and in my opinion nightlife royalty Ian Schrager has by far been one of the most apex moments of my journalism and partying career. As the co-founder of the popular, celebrity destination Studio 54 in NYC, Schrager is also noted for pioneering boutique hotels and transforming the lobbies in his hotels as the new, ultimate in hotel nightlife hangouts. His latest real estate import, Public Chicago, formerly the Ambassador East Hotel, prides itself as a sophisticated stay with a no fuss approach to personalized service – only the essentials. I got a chance to have a sit down with the famous hotelier before the evening's bash where he shared a preview of his new developments, his opinion of Chicago, and any chance of a modern day Studio 54 making a comeback.

"Chicago is one of the best cities of the world. I've always wanted to open up a hotel here but never found the right opportunity. So, when this [Ambassador East hotel] became available, I just had to. If you want to have a successful hotel company, you have to have something in Chicago. It's one of the greatest cities in this country," said Scharger.

Scharger went on to share his concept and idea behind Public Chicago – one that would not price people out but also continue to provide great service at an affordable price.

"People were just really tired of spending a lot of money on hotels and not getting good value. So, I brought this idea of providing really good value but getting the same sophistication, the same excitement, the same kind of great food and beverage concept but also getting great service at a less expensive price," said Schrager.

When asked about any future plans of going back into the club business, Schrager shares that he will continue to retain aspects of the club atmosphere and ambience in his hotels because he feels it "provides a different dimension... everything under one roof."Schrager parts with lasting advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs that they should just go for it and never be afraid of failure.

In pure Schrager form, Public Chicago's lobby whisked guests to an exclusive invite of fireworks, champagne, and disco that would even have Gatsby himself raising his glass. Pump Room turned into an full-on dance party as music producer and global DJ Jellybean Benitez, who has produced and remixed songs for artists such as Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson, spun a retro 70s and disco infused DJ set that had guests from all generations and dance moves coming together on the dance floor. Jellybean Benitez is also the executive producer of Studio 54 Radio on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Above all, Public's One Year Anniversary brought events back to what they're all about – people and the music. Impromptu toasts of champagne with friends and new ones never hurts, but the event connected guests of varying ages, professions, and backgrounds through music. Rather you were the business owner or his or her intern, you were on the dance floor and that's what mattered. Congrats Ian and the great team at Public Chicago on a kick-ass first year.

Until next update, as Ian advised, just go for it and if you fail, well, there's always champagne!