Prince Harry Does Polo

On Saturday, I had a lesson in culture and geography. Do you know all the islands which surround Manhattan? There’s Ellis Island, Staten Island, the mysterious Roosevelt Island (ever met anyone who lives there?); there’s also Wards Island (doesn’t sound tourist-friendly), and to the south of the city, Governor’s Island, just an Olympic stone’s throw from Battery Park. You get great views of the city, and every year, Governor’s turns into a little bit of Bridgehampton. Britain’s Prince Harry was on the island on Saturday to play polo against Nacho Figueras for charity’s sake. Since the officially released guest list only includes some of the attendees, as guests started arriving, rumors were already swirling (don’t they always?) about who would be coming. Is Madonna here? She’s not on the guest list. Someone spotted her with her son, I think.

Being a member of the press is the same as being a private dick. You wait around a lot, and you do a lot of gawking at strangers. Guest arrivals were spread over an excruciatingly long three hours. People had to be driven to the grounds in trolleys after landing at the island by ferry, likely making transport logistics quite a nightmare for the event’s staff. Among the guests I noticed Kate Hudson, a smiling LL Cool J in an earth-colored three-button suit and hat, and Donna Karan and her daughter sporting matching tans. When asked where her solar hat was (de rigueur among polo match guests) Donna Karan was taken aback a little by the question and said “I made a boo-boo.”

Maybe the real star of the day was New York City herself, the Manhattan skyline in the distance providing a glorious backdrop for the event. There hadn’t been a game here in 70 years, except for last year’s inaugural game. No wonder I couldn’t remember the last time a polo game was held here — can you? By the way, people in my inner circle have been asserting that Governor’s Island doesn’t count as New York City, but I disagree — different discussion, perhaps.

Veuve Clicquot did a fine job of organizing the guests under large tents and provided all amenities. One thing I noticed, however, was that the media entrance was not even carpeted (for next time, organizers, add black flooring to your to-do list; it will go great with the Clicquot orange). Guests paid $500 for admission (this is a charitable cause, remember) and were treated to lunch, champagne, and afternoon tea by the St. Regis. The public could watch from across the grounds and help themselves to cash counters located nearby. The weather could not have been better for this occasion. Large, downy clouds anchored a silvery-blue sky closely above, and there was even a slight breeze.

This was meant to be an exhibition game for Britain’s Prince Harry’s charity. I suppose running foundations and visiting schools are some of the things a member of the royal family has to do from time to time. Lingering on yachts and ducking shutterbugs has got to get so yesterday so quickly. Prince Harry visited a school in Harlem and made a stop by Ground Zero. The high-profile event was Saturday’s game, however, which was played for the benefit of the Sentebale Foundation, set up by Prince Harry to help Lesotho’s orphans.

I often learn something new and strange about people at these social events. The Sudanese model Alek Wek showed up on the island with her arm in a cast. Well, she should probably not be allowed into your kitchen, as it turns out. Apparently she was preparing dinner and there was an incident involving a large kitchen knife and some shallots (and possibly, a bottle of ultra-rare grappa, Alek?). Wek downplayed the whole thing, commenting that she looked forward to “everyone coming together and celebrating his cause.” Referring to Prince Harry, she said, “this young man giving back, it’s wonderful.”

As befits tradition, many of the guests did not come through the press entrance. But we did get to see Chloe Sevigny, Marc Jacobs and his Brazilian boyfriend (the two kept rehearsing for the best on-screen kiss award, but in front of the cameras), and polo champion Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras, looking godly and bronzed. About playing Governor’s Island, he commented that, “the Manhattan skyline is the perfect backdrop for a polo match.”

For those of us living in caves, Nacho Figueras is from Argentina and is also the captain of Team Black Watch, who played against HRH Harry’s Sentebale team that day. Oh, and he is also the face of Ralph Lauren’s Black Label collection, thanks to Bruce Weber playing matchmaker for the Page 6 hottie and the couturier. Although this was an exhibition match (Governor Island’s polo grounds are smaller than regulation size, and the match lasted less than an officially sanctioned game), Figueras was intent on defending his prize won at last year’s tournament. This year, in deference to his blue-blooded opponent, Figueras graciously conceded the trophy to Team Sentebale. Since this was billed as a state visit, the British press corps was here en masse, all wearing diplomatic press badges and jockeying for position to snap the money shot. The game itself started right on schedule, in fact, just minutes before 3pm; it lasted just over an hour, and a trophy was awarded in a ceremony held afterward on the grounds.

Photo: Sacha Berkman

Flock of Models Helps Russell James Launch New Book

There should have been a disclaimer at the door of the Stephan Weiss Studio last night, reading, “You must be 5’10” to enter this party and at least this gorgeous” (with an arrow pointing to a group shot of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models). The reception was meant to celebrate photographer Russell James’ and teNeues’ book launch of Russell James, and to showcase the exhibition Nomad Two Worlds. The latter cause was the second half of the Australia Week celebration — the first, was the celebrity loaded fete at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen West Village studio last week. For Nomad, James paired up with Clifton Bieundurry, an aboriginal artist, to produce phenomenal, large scale mixtures of tribal art and black and white photography.

The work was lovely, and you can’t go astray with sushi hors d’oeuvres, but the main attraction was the model-heavy guest list with the likes of Alessandra Ambrosio, Angela Lindvall, Alicia Roundtree, Brooklyn Decker, Doutzen Kroes, Erin Wasson, Julie Henderson, and Noemie Lenoir frolicking around the dimly lit space. Other guest highlights included, DJ Ruckus, Unik, Donna Karan, Ally Hilfigher and Alan Cumming. The night’s highlight came when two Aussies staged a seemingly impromptu didjeridoo performance. I also overheard Julie Henderson explaining how she maintains her lusty bod. The secret is that she’s “always been really athletic” and “works out a lot.” Who would’ve thunk.

Industry Insiders: Rochelle Gores, Winning Big at Arcade

Rochelle Gores, owner of Los Angeles boutique Arcade, on working long days, saying bye bye to boho-chic, and the year of expansion.

Where do you go out? I love Foxtail, a new club in LA. Cut is a great restaurant that I love to go to for a good steak. One of my favorite restaurants that I’ve been going to for like 18 years is Mistral. It’s in the valley. The owner is Henry. I actually really like 1912 in the Beverly Hills Hotel. It’s very casual and just a nice bar to go to.

What’s your favorite aspect of owning Arcade? The buying, obviously, is one of the greatest parts, because that’s the product, and that’s the branding of the company. I am constantly overseeing the big picture and how it’s going to grow. Last year’s focus was creating the boutique, and this year, it’s launching it into doing private label and possibly into another boutique and growing as a brand. I’m really excited about that.

Who are two people that you admire in your industry? There have been so many great women in my industry. Obviously, Coco Chanel. She was the first one to put a woman in pants, and the first person to put a bag over the shoulder as opposed to carrying it in the hand. I look up to her for innovative ideas. Donna Karan is an amazing businesswoman. Stefani Greenfield from Scoop is amazing in the aspect of retail and buying. And then, my father Alec Gores on the business end.

Trends you love in fashion? Color. People are really into bold color in fashion and accessories. People are loving accessorizing everything from earrings to bags to necklaces and layering things. I think my favorite trend is going back to femininity and sophistication. And going back to that 1920’s woman.

Trends you hate? I’m really liking what I’m seeing because it’s going away from boho-chic, which I really didn’t care for. I really like where things are going. That is what Arcade is all about, feminine, womanly, beautiful, a sophisticated, very ladylike look.

One thing that people may not know about you? I work 18 hour days. I think that may shock people.

What are you obsessed with right now? I’m getting married in May so I’m obsessed with my wedding. The ceremony will be at my dad’s estate in Beverly Hills, and the reception will be at the Beverly Wilshire. I’m getting my dresses made by Herve at Carolina Herrera. I am also obsessed with the jewelry collection that I do with Neil Lane. We do these diamond letters. I wear my “R” every day, and the girls in the store wear the letter “A” for Arcade. It’s called Neil Lane for Arcade, and all of the pieces are one of a kind. I’m excited to expand with him.

What’s on the horizon for 2009? This is the year of expansion for me. I’m looking to expand through online selling, doing my own brand, and opening another store. I’m looking to expand into a larger empire.

What’s your favorite item in the boutique right now? My bathing suits. They’re fantastic. I have all Brazilian bathing suits. I have Rosa Cha, I have Lenny. And we’re one of the only places in LA that sells them.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Buying cosmetics. I’m very girly in that way.

What are you doing tonight? I’m in New York. We’re going to Charles on Charles Street, and then to Bijoux and Southside.

Links: Sarah Palin Still Indignant, Vera Wang Designs Michelle Obama?

● After almost two months out of the spotlight, Sarah Palin has regrouped and is taking shots at Tina Fey and Katie Couric. [CNN] ● Alex Rodriguez must have a thing for cougars. He was reportedly putting the moves on fashion maven Donna Karan over New Year’s. [Stylelist] ● Irish rock legends U2 prove that you’re never too established to be influenced by others. Their new album, No Line on the Horizon, is inspired by Led Zeppelin and Jack White. [NME]

● TMZ interrogated Vera Wang outside a New York brownstone about whether or not she’ll be designing Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown. Survey says “no,” but she’s in the running for another high-profile poltica. [TMZ] ● Peter Som is the latest causality of Fashion Week. He won’t be showing his latest collection at the tents or anywhere else. [Fashionologie] ● Lisa Rinna — that soap-opera vixen from Melrose Place — regrets getting too much plastic surgery, saying she “overdid it.” [OMGYahoo]

Karl Lagerfeld Keeps It Street

imageLagerfeld in Phat Pharm? Cavalli dressing like Rhett Butler? That’s the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar. The mag wrangled together top designers to dress them up in fantasy outfits. “Michael Kors, Karl Lagerfeld, Donna Karan, Donatella Versace, Alessandra Facchinetti, Giorgio Armani, Alber Elbaz, Rodarte’s Laura and Kate Mulleavy and Roberto Cavalli were all asked to get into character as something other than a designer. Armani played the role of Fred Astaire, Kors took on James Stewart’s L.B. Jeffries character from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Elbaz reinvented himself as a Hollywood producer with James Bond flair and Cavalli went Gone with the Wind as Rhett Butler; he was shot embracing Coca Rocha as Scarlett O’Hara.” Lagerfeld dressed up as a rapper, striking a pose with Phat Farm jeans and untied shoelaces. “Believe it or not, I love rap,” he told Bazaar. If only he’d consented to wear his tribute T-shirt.