As we drove up to the white tents of the Bridgehampton Polo Club this Saturday, we wondered if we had accidentally arrived early. Where were the billions of cars that were supposed to be tailgating during the kickoff to the Hamptons equivalent of a pro football game? We had heard that Peter Brant‘s annual event was as close to a mosh party as the jet-set tolerated.
“The teams can’t play today. The ground is too wet,” Mr. Brant told us when we finally caught up to the club’s founder. He didn’t seem particularly put out about this turn of bad luck as he laughed and posed with polo star and Ralph Lauren model Nacho Figueras, whom Mr. Brant had teamed up with to present the 16th season at Bridgehampton. Ferrari was co-sponsoring the event, because…something about horsepower, maybe?
Nearby, Niche Media Holdings founder and former CEO Jason Binn was discussing his latest endeavor: Du Jour, a “multi-platform luxury lifestyle magazine” which would be launching next month. (The publication will be co-sponsored by Gilt Groupe, natch.)
Also in attendance was superstar entertainment lawyer Paul Schindler, who introduced himself as the man who helped co-found Def Jam with Russell Simmons, Live Nation chair Ron Delsener, Dina Lohan, looking lost until she spotted Animal Fair‘s Wendy Diamond (whose dog’s recent nuptials went splendidly), along with the gilded group of Sharon Bush, Stefano Tonchi, and Hamptons Magazine’s Samantha Yanks (whose publication had its own designated lounge area). Former Housewife Kelly Bensimone and current Housewife Countess Luann de Lesseps also stopped by for the opening ceremonies, though it must be noted that neither were provided with their own Bravo-sponsored lounge. Apparently it still pays off to work in publishing.
“It used to be like a giant concert,” social fixture Melissa Berkelhammer told us while we searched in vain for some food that didn’t come in miniature form. (The Grey Goose was flowing freely, and combined with the intense sun, we were starting to feel a little bit nauseous.)
“Actually, no, it used to be really posh,” she amended. “Then (Noah Tepperberg’s) Strategic Group took over and it became this big party, where everyone was really drunk and it was super packed.* This year it’s back to being more high society people.” According the The New York Post, this year’s VIP list had been slashed from 2,000 to 500 after Mr. Brant bought out former partner Neil Hirsch.
Publicist Liz Derringer sniffed. “Well, with a guest list this tight, who is left to write about?”
It is true that few of the bold-faced names Page Six had promised would be in attendance–Christie Brinkley, Howard and Beth Stern, Ms. Yanks, Lisa Simonsen, Donna Karan, and Russell Simmons–actually made it to the kickoff. (Perhaps the others were warned ahead of time that there weren’t going to be any games that afternoon.)
We had heard rumors of a tightened guest list, but the reality of what that meant didn’t hit home until we witnessed it firsthand. A burly security guard blocked the entryway to the tents, gruffly expelling a group of dapper young gentlemen because they were wearing the wrong colored wristbands. “Yellow is for tailgating only,” he told the embarrassed posse.
We asked one partygoer why polo tended to attract more good-looking men than any other sport.
She laughed. “The most good-looking guys? Well, I would say that polo draws a lot of risk-takers. You have a lot of Argentinian and Latin American men, so there’s a lot of that rugged, swarthy thing going on.”
Be still our beating heart. Now, if only we could watch them play.
*As Melissa Berkelhammer noted in her comment: “I think Strategic did a wonderful job with Polo over the years – the amount of press and placement that they received was unprecedented. No one way of planning the event is “better” than the other – just different, and appeals to different tastes. And I’m a tad older now, so I tend to prefer things that are produced on a smaller scale.”
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