Arcadia Group Chairman Sir Philip Green might be UK retail's most powerful player, but like all big dreamers, his sights have long been set on New York. "In 1979, I opened my first store in London. That's quite a long time to think about 5th Avenue," he said last night to hundreds of guests in Grand Central's Vanderbilt Hall. They -- including Cara Delevingne, Hailee Steinfeld and yes, Beyonce -- were there to celebrate Topshop's new, 40,000-square-foot flagship at 49th St. and 5th Avenue.
Over the years, Green has been highly vocal about bringing Topshop to the world's most famous shopping street, and in fact, there was a time long before the SoHo location opened that we believed 5th Avenue would host the fast-fashion brand's first U.S. store. "I'm really proud that we've taken our time and found a fabulous corner," he said. "I want to thank my team for a really amazing job that they've done. We won't discuss the crazy overspend."
To be sure, no expense was spared Wednesday night, either, as the Topshop team transformed the iconic New York space into a formal dining room. The food was delicious -- especially the shrimp cocktail, a wonderful fancy party cliche -- but the guest list was even more inspired. Fashion friends, including Tommy Hilfiger and the Public School boys, were there to support Green alongside a roster of It girls, from Poppy Delevingne to Jen Brill. "There's something about Topshop," said Steinfeld, who at 17 is becoming something of a fashion party veteran. (She mostly hung out with her publicist and mom, though, because she seems like an incredibly responsible kid.) "I'm still trying to figure out what my style is on my own time, and I always manage to find something there that I love."
Steinfeld and the fashion girls were a requisite, sure. But there were surprises, too, and not just Paris Hilton and Perez Hilton, who spent time at the beginning of dinner catching up/angling to be photographed. (Gotta love them for that.) Green's good friend Lionel Richie -- who jumped on stage to sing the old Commodores song "Easy" before the first course was served -- might've been the most pleasant surprise, although Jessie J did everyone a solid with her beautiful rendition of "Empire State of Mind." But really, it was all about Cara and Beyonce. Delevingne's evening duties included making funny faces with table mates Jordan Dunn and Pat McGrath, but also welcoming Jesse J to the stage.
Despite audience deep hopes, Beyonce did not perform. But she did look super pretty, posing for a ton of photos. Indeed, the evening sort of served as a public kickoff to her athleticwear collection, which will be designed in partnership with Topshop. "We haven't yet produced the first sample," said Green. "But I think we couldn't have picked a more exciting partner." We'll raise a glass to that.