While shopping season is in full swing around New York City, there was a charitable retail therapy party raging in Chelsea last night at the annual Housing Works Fashion for Action benefit. Hosted by Thom Browne, Patricia Clarkson and Rachel Roy, the gala event benefits the Housing Works mission to end homelessness and AIDS.
In years past, the boozing and silent auction took place at the Rubin Museum of Art, while the shopping went down in the Housing Works Chelsea location across the street. But this year, organizers brought both past-times together under one roof at the Altman Building. Energized by the cause and with easy access to beverages, guests shopped majorly discounted brand new items donated by designers including Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenburg (wrap dresses: check!), Tory Burch, and Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers. The proceeds of the event and sales will go to the Housing Works’ HIV prevention and integrated health care services for women and families.
“I just think Housing Works is a remarkable organization,” said co-chair Patricia Clarkson after posing for pics on the red carpet. “It’s just a beautifully run organization and to take on homelessness and AIDS…and the lives that they have saved. It’s a very personable organization. It’s very real and it’s one of the greatest things in NYC. It really is.”
The Parks and Recreation actress walks the talk, too — last year, she shopped for hats with the rest of the gala guests–and it’s not just once a year at a party. She shops at Housing Works on a regular basis (“Like I need more clothes. I’m an actress. Please.”) and recently donated an entire storage unit full of furniture. “I literally just backed up a truck,” she laughs. “It was really nice furniture. It wasn’t extremely fancy but it was nice and it was in good condition. I gave all of it to Housing Works.”
Clarkson stunned in bold red lips, Alberta Ferretti heels and classic LBD (“something in my closet”). Since we’re pretty obsessed (plus, mildly terrified) of her intimidating Tammy One character on Parks and Rec, we wondered what sartorial tips the actress might give her Pawnee, Indiana alter ego.
“I would say first of all, a new hairdo,” she suggested. “And second of all, maybe try some blush.”
Back to Housing Works, though. We’re thinking that a good number of the furniture pieces at the multiple shop locations might actually have some sort of celebrity provenance. Wearing an emerald green Prada turban, crisp white button down shirt, and a Rachel Roy collection feathered pencil skirt, event co-chair Rachel Roy told us that she dropped off a “beautiful couch” earlier this year. The self-described “sucker for a turban” actually opted for the topper due to the coif-destroying rain outside. Would Roy ever consider adding a turban line to her ever-growing fashion empire?
“I think I would because in the winter there’s a certain silhouette that I love to wear,” she told us after briefly mulling the concept over. “I love them in every season, just in different fabrics, and slightly different shapes for winter. A combination of a skullie and a turban.”
Finally, honorary chair and Black Fleece designer Thom Browne made his entrance in his signature lean-cut suit and cropped trousers. “It’s just very heartwarming to see how people do care,” he said after observing the major philanthropic shopping frenzy that was going on in the room. “Sometimes you think that they don’t, but when you see this many people, it’s nice to see that people do care.”
This is his second year of chairing the Housing Works Fashion for Action benefit because of his work with Black Fleece. Would he consider a third year? “If they want me, yeah,” he said with a smile. “I respect the organization. They’re an amazing group of people and they do amazing work. However long they would want me to do it, I would certainly do it.”
We figured for the final question of the evening, we’d be hit on the topic of the day: The Marc Jacobs spring/summer ’12 collection heist. What would the designer do if that ever happened to him?
“What can you do?” Brown said. “It’s a shame because putting collections together, it’s such a part of yourself and for someone to actually take that away from you — it’s just not very nice.”