An exuberant-though-sleep-deprived Michelle Williams presided over the festivities last night at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, where Clarins sponsored a “Million Meals Concert” to benefit FEED, and their goal of providing one million school meals to children in need.
Williams was filling in for Nick Cannon, who at the last minute was unable to fill his role as emcee (yet Tweeted a photo of his and Mariah Carey’s toddler son, Roc, “big pimpin in Italy!” on Tuesday afternoon). Williams told The Observer that her Memorial Day weekend took her from Atlantic City (for Beyonce’s Big Post-Partum Concert) to Atlanta, where she got the call.
“So I went from Atlantic City, to Atlanta, to here today, hosting, performing, run-throughs, wardrobe fittings. Washed my hair today…hotel shampoo’s good, you should use it!” she said, adding, “That was a lack-of-sleep comment.”
The concert lured in the New York philanthropist crowd (along with fashion designers Donna Karan, Jason Wu and Joseph Altuzarra) with the ever popular and always tear-jerking combination of orchestras performing with pop stars.
The musical favorite of the night was, of course, the P.S. 22 Chorus—but isn’t bringing them in cheating, at this point? They began with a requisite tearjerker, covering Les Mis’ “Castle on the Cloud,” accompanied by the violist David Aaron Carpenter (who cemented his reputation as a young and cool violist by wearing a ruffled, sequined, untucked black shirt). The Chorus then broke into covers of “Somebody That I Used to Know” and “We Are Young,” which provoked the first standing ovation of the night and more than a few adulatory “aww!”s.
John Legend opened with his song “If You’re Out There” with the Salomé Chamber Orchestra. Later in the night, he introduced President Bill Clinton, who made a special guest appearance and kept the musical theme going in his opening cracks.
“When I graduated from high school, I had more musical scholarships than academic scholarships,” the President said. “I took one of the academic scholarships and it’s been downhill ever since.”
The President’s remarks focused on the eradication of hunger, but also noted obesity, one of his pet projects, and the trustworthiness of Lauren Bush Lauren, the founder of FEED. In fact, much of the night was devoted to lauding Lauren and celebrating FEED’s fifth anniversary. The concert program featured a full-page ad for Lauren, in true yearbook-style, from the Lauren family: “We are proud to support your mission and passion…Ralph and Ricky, David, Andrew, Dylan and Paul.”
Doting husband David Lauren showed The Observer a picture of Ms. Bush Lauren at yesterday’s rehearsal on his iPhone, noting that much of their Memorial Day weekend was devoted to preparations. “She’s very cool under pressure,” he said.
Ms. Bush Lauren managed to make it through the night with only one joking mention of her famously palindromic name, from Christian Courtin-Clarins, the very French chairman of Clarins (“cla-raunssss”). But he also poked fun at his own Francophone pronunciations of English words: “I say ‘famine’ because if I say ‘hunger’ I won’t know if I’m ‘hungry’ or ‘angry.’”
FEED produces canvas bags and accessories that are sold to benefit the U.N. World Food Programme’s School Feeding program, with a modus operandi not unlike that of TOMS Shoes. (Philanthropy! Fashion! Canvas!)
“A lot of the big luxury brands are also getting into philanthropy,” Nina Garcia told The Observer during the pre-concert cocktail reception. “I have to hope that more and more of the designers and fashion companies will be involved. We have made a difference—we made a big difference when AIDS started. The fashion community really rallied and showed its strength.”