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PRODUCTION VALUES: Etienne Russo, the production wizard, took over Hammerstein Ballroom in midtown Manhattan Saturday night to stage another one of his elaborate spectacles, this time the Moncler Grenoble collection.
Whatever Russo had in store was at first obscured by curtains, as if a theatrical production or an opera were about to begin instead of a rock concert, Hammerstein's speciality. The theater can hold about 3,500 people, but this time was mainly filled on the main floor. Among those waiting were Jessica Hart, Waris Ahluwahlia, Olivia Palermo, Kate Foley, Zani Gugelmann, Nicole Mellon and a fleet of editors and retailers growing increasingly nervous that the show's late start time would delay them for the Alexander Wang show in far-away Brooklyn. Despite an advisory from Moncler to "please arrive promptly at 7 p.m.," the show didn't start until a half hour later.
Spike Lee has never been to one of Moncler's famously flashy productions, but is a fan of the brand.
"They're stylish and they keep me warm in freezing-ass New York City," he said, his trademark horn-rimmed glasses in place. It was the only runway show he planned on seeing this week.
"This is fashion week? I didn't know," he said.
The production that eventually unfolded was a combination of opera meets "Tron" — ten men in down-filled morning suits, a Swiss group officially called Pendulum Choir, performed a kind of Gregorian chant while standing on hydraulic lifts. Behind them was a panel several stories high filled by an accompanying chorus of 60 men and women, each in their own private cubicles, a sort of 'Moncler Squares.' The performance was dragging on when some in the audience decided to skip out, surely some to go to Wang, others to escape.