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PASSING THROUGH

Control Tower, We Have Gucci on the Runway

April 08, 2001|MARK EHRMAN

OCCASION: The fourth biannual installment of the Tribute to Style benefit for the Entertainment Industry Foundation Arts and Education Fund, at Santa Monica Municipal Airport's Barker Hangar, with performances by Alessandro Safina and Marc Anthony.

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THE WHITE ZONE: "I picked up a fabulous Gucci gown last year, and I hope to pick one up today," says Jennifer Tilly, whirling through the cocktail reception and silent auction of the latest and greatest of top-label designer threads and jewelry. Usually held on Rodeo Drive, the fete (sponsored this year by Jaguar) moved to the airport's tent-friendly grounds in anticipation of inclement weather. To maintain continuity, slides of the famous street are projected onto the billowing white walls. Naturally, the night turns out to be the year's balmiest so far. Roberto Cavalli (as worn by Cindy Crawford, Thora Birch), Christian Lacroix (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Badgley Mischka (Elizabeth Hurley) mix it up with Armani (Marc Anthony) and Kangol (Samuel L. Jackson, natch). Jennifer Lopez arrives wrapped in a relatively chaste cream-colored Valentino (although from a 30-degree angle . . .). Who-are-you-wearing aside, the event raises $750,000 for California State Summer School for the Arts, Teach for America and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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ONBOARD ENTERTAINMENT: "Fasten your seat belts," coos Liz Hurley like a BOAC stewardess. She doesn't mean the guy who snagged the 2002 Jaguar X-Type sports sedan at a bargain (recession-indicating) bid of $50,000 in the highlight auction. Rather, she's introducing a man "who is Italian, an opera singer and ravishingly sexy"--tenor Alessandro Safina. Co-host Kelsey Grammer heads for the exit. Frasier cutting out on opera? "No, actually, I'm directing tomorrow. I got to get up at 6 a.m.," he explains. "We were going to leave sooner, but my wife said, 'No, stay and be polite.' " After dinner, Zeta-Jones introduces the final act. "You're distinguished people who wouldn't think of losing their decorum, but when you hear Marc sing, you will have the urge to dance," she declares. "I'll be joining you." As Anthony launches into "I Need to Know," the mother of one does just that.

CELEB QUOTIENT

A hangar full of stars and people who dress like them.

WOW FACTOR

To excite the senses: couture, opera, salsa and the occasional drone of landing aircraft.

GRAZING LEVEL

Party planners Along Came Mary provide separate booze and wine bars, ample buffet tables of skirt steak, lamb chops and pasta, topped off with dainty shot glasses of tiramisu. First-class.

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