Freeloader Scores a Twofer, and Our Shoes Almost Score on Their Own

Hits 'Domino' Bazaar and Art Directors Club Black-Tie Dinner

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The Event: Domino Bazaar opening night
The Date: Oct. 12, 2006
The Venue: The Altman Building
The Bar: We're sure there was a bar, but there were so many people, we didn't actually see it.
The Crowd: A who's who of fashion and taste, and your extra-friendly neighborhood Freeloader


The Event: 2006 Art Directors Club Hall of Fame induction dinner
The Date: Oct. 12, 2006
The Venue: The Art Directors Club
The Bar: Top-shelf and much-visited; champagne flowed freely
The Crowd: High-end arts crowd and your not-so-friendly neighborhood Freeloader

It was a busy night for the Freeloader. We could have gotten away with just the Art Directors Club's black-tie event, but we had heard rumors that Domino, Conde Nast's home-lifestyle magazine, had thrown an impressive soiree during fashion week, so we felt the opening night of its home-furnishings bazaar would be worth a drive-by.
What we learned at the Domino Bazaar: Red shoes are for hussies.
What we learned at the Domino Bazaar: Red shoes are for hussies.

By the time we arrived at the unfashionably prompt time of, well, the opening minute, the Domino Bazaar was already warmed up. A retinue of PR gals was clipboard-ready at the paparazzi-friendly entry tent and burgundy carpet. Inside, beneath stylized Moroccan souks, the well-heeled likes of actress Maria Menunous, Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa and author Malcolm Gladwell mingled with the saps generous individuals who actually paid the $250 ticket price ($225 of which went to the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America).

Not that money was an issue for many of the attendees. Everything "that isn't nailed down" was for sale at the bazaar -- from artwork and pillows to the room decor itself (though we would argue some of it technically was nailed down). We saw several credit cards flash in our 30 minutes on the scene, and while we hope some of it was for the artwork we kept bumping up against (which was also being sold to benefit ACRIA), we think the 15% markdown on furniture worth more than a year of the Freeloader's rent may also have been a motivator.

Freeloader quickly got an audience with Domino's editor in chief, Deborah Needleman, who also drew in Barneys Creative Director Simon Doonan, fresh from Isaac Mizrahi's TV show, where they were discussing the meaning of color. Mr. Doonan took one look at the Freeloader's red shoes and pronounced us a brazen hussy and home-wrecker. At least he didn't say anything bad about our outfit.

If the crush of people that overwhelmed the bar, made the themed tent displays unpassable and emptied the anise-seed- and lentil-decorated hors d'oeuvre trays is any indication of the smash the event would be, we are glad we got out early. We were on tap for the Art Directors Hall of Fame.
What we learned at the Art Director's Club dinner: It's true, red shoes are the mark of a hussy.
What we learned at the Art Director's Club dinner: It's true, red shoes are the mark of a hussy.

The nice thing about an art directors' black-tie party is that you can pretty much guarantee you won't see a single tie in the crowd. OK, so maybe there were a few tuxes at the gathering; Ron Seichrist, founder of the Miami Ad School, was sporting one of them. Mr. Seichrist and Lee Lynch (co-founder of Carmichael Lynch and iconic in a green suit) were present to applaud this year's one advertising-based inductee, Nancy Rice.

We admit we were wrong to assume that the sit-down dinner would be the typical rubberized chicken and warmed-over tiramisu fare. We should have guessed that the delicate palates of the creative crowd would brook no less than petit filet mignon from Niman Ranch on a bed of purple mashed potatoes (which fell in line with the overall lavender spectrum of the evening) and local greens we suspect were from beets. And, yes, while water service was scant, they did serve -- hands down -- the best banquet coffee the Freeloader has ever had. And they brought it around twice! Our advice to the planners of future luncheons and dinners: Find out who these caterers were and use them.

It came as no surprise that the presentations started late or that the introductions lasted longer than the acceptance speeches. We will accept this from Francois Mouly, who, her beguiling French accent aside, decided not to be all laudatory of her husband, Art Spiegelman, but to also spend a few minutes admonishing him for turning on lights at 4 a.m. and leaving closet doors open. She didn't mention anything about the toothpaste cap, so we assume he's got that one down.

It is important to note that there was almost nothing self-important about the ADC's dinner. Brief pauses between the presentations of the various laureates allowed for mingling and cocktail refills, and there was a distinct absence of trying-to-be-polite golf claps. We can only chalk up that atmosphere to people confident enough not to wear black tie when asked. As for the red shoes, Simon Doonan will be happy to hear they attracted at least one opportunity for home-wrecking, but the Freeloader is not yet a hussy, so we politely but firmly declined the opportunity -- and just took the business card.
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