#tbt Epic Events: Vanity Fair Oscars Party

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For Throwback Thursday we’re covering some of the most epic events of the recent past – in this case, very recent, with the Vanity Fair Oscars Party having just passed us by on Sunday.

A select few shining stars were able to attend this invitation-only event, the hottest ticket of the Oscars season, where, as Frank DiGiacomo put it, “Hollywood once again becomes high school with money” but “in a fun, revealing, John Hughes kind of way.”

History of the Event

Succeeding a similar event held annually by the late agent Irving Paul Lazar, the Vanity Fair party started in 1994, with a kickoff designed to evoke Old Hollywood, welcoming a suite of guests including Donald Sutherland, Nancy Reagan, Michael Stipe, Oliver Stone, Anthony Hopkins, and Prince. That first event, consisting of dinner and an after-party, had around 250 guests; since then, the guest list has swelled—exact numbers are vague—to cater to Oscar nominees and winners as well as their friends and others deemed worthy.* Vanity Fair also makes a few invitations available to be auctioned off for charity (so if you want to attend and haven’t been nominated, not all hope is lost).

Traditionally the Vanity Fair Oscars party is a place for celebrities to mix with unlikely, well, other celebrities, where Monica Lewinsky got friendly with Ellen Barkin in 1999, and where the worlds of fashion, music, politics and the arts ostensibly collide. It’s also the party that P Diddy (then Puff Daddy) risked arrest to attend in 1998, the party where Mel Gibson arrived with a bagpiper the year he won two Oscars for Braveheart, and where, no doubt, many a lucrative deal has been struck.

*Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carton actually sends out handwritten invites to Oscar nominees on the day the nominations are announced.

This Year’s Event

Last Sunday, the festivities took place under an 80-foot-long LED chandelier weighing 6,000 pounds, and guests feasted on lobster roll, Gruyere Gougeres and In-N-Out burgers.

Jennifer Lopez wore a see-through dress, Aaron Paul handed out food, John Travolta—after sliming his way around Scarlett Johansson and Idina Mensel during the ceremony—managed to plant one on Beyoncé, and Benedict Cumberbatch charmed Joan and Jackie Collins over a plate of fries.

For a more visual sense of the evening, check out Inside the Vanity Fair Oscar Party Photo Booth.

What We Learned

  1. A variety of food choices, running the spectrum from fancy to casual, might just make your guests eternally grateful. Tip: Save the good stuff (and by that we mean the junk food) for later in the evening.

  2. Lighting matters.

  3. For big events, the atmosphere might be made more dynamic by adding a few off-the-beaten-path activities, like a photo booth or a burger station.

  4. High school would have been so much better if Aaron Paul had been there.

  5. Start planning well in advance.
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