Memo Pad: 'Project Runway' Lawsuit... Nicky Haslam's Fun Shunned....

There’s yet another snag in the dispute over the fate of “Project Runway.”


OFF WITH HIS HEAD: There is no wrath like a British journalist scorned. Vanity Fair may have wrangled the exclusive on Nicky Haslam’s much-publicized bash in honor of his friend, art collector and socialite Janet de Botton, at his ancestral home in south London last Thursday, but the British press had a field day with the lavish affair. Having first built it up as being on par with Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball in 1966, the papers turned on the chameleonesque, social butterfly Haslam over the weekend. “While the rest of the world fretted about financial crises, the socialite Nicky Haslam threw open his family’s former south London palace on Thursday night to 800 of his ‘closest friends’ for a ball that resembled a scene out of ‘The Great Gatsby,’” wrote The Sunday Times in a story on the party. “Only hours earlier, billions of pounds had been wiped off world stock markets and banks were still staving off collapse. But for the great and good, the band played on.” It didn’t help matters that, despite the hype, the bash drew only the usual suspects in Haslam’s ever-widening circle — Paris Hilton, the Duchess of York, Vivienne Westwood, Manolo Blahnik, Bryan Ferry, Prince Pavlos and Marie Chantal of Greece, Bianca Jagger, Jasmine Guinness and Fiona Scarry. And Lucien Freud, one of the few surprises. Even some of the guests were not pleased once they were there. “You got the feeling it was just a pure media event,” one well-connected London social, who requested anonymity, said. “The party was a scrum.”

“The ball will go down in the annals because it was an example of over-the-top ubermarketing and it succeeded — as excess so often does,” wrote Rachel Johnson in her column in The Sunday Times. “Even at the party all anyone was talking about was the thing itself, who was there, who wasn’t there and why. There are no parties without a purpose. This one was given to be talked about. It reminds us that nothing — nothing — works any more without publicity and lots and lots of public relations.” She then described the scene: “The belle of the ball is greeting his guests like the Sun King at Versailles, only this era demands the media rather than creeping courtiers in constant attendance.” But it was The Daily Mail that summed it up best with a headline that ran on Oct. 16, before the gala: “Let them eat cake! Forget the recession….Tonight London will host a bash that would make Marie Antoinette blush.” — Nina Jones

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