On the Town with Shinan: Miley Cyrus goes art-pop at Art Basel (and her new boyfriend plays party intern)

By Shinan Govani

Beach? What beach?

As the entirety of the art-social-fashion cognoscenti touched down this week in the city that’s sometimes called America’s “Riviera,” - this including the tip-top curators with awesome eyewear, big pay-day artistes and their publicists, supermodels, etc, etc – nobody was in a towel, per se, and a certain ambassador of twerk ended up taking up much of my oxygen. Appearing at a special el fresco concert held at The Raliegh Hotel in Miami, Miley Cyrus gave us something to talk about, alright.

“You thought (Art Basel) was a respected place you could escape me,” self-deprecated Cyrus, starting a one-off gig set amongst the palm trees and with one of the most beautiful crowds I’ve ever seen. Singing about her dead dog. Appearing in silver pasties. Doing a cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Boogie-ing madly until a hurricane of confetti – and fake one-dollar bills – fell on us from the sky, like an alternate New Year’s Eve. Ms. Cyrus was on it.

Outside, such a frenzied mob of onlookers were clamouring to get in that it may have seemed as though the Raleigh was privy to something as precious as the 2016 edition of the iPhone. Having been to Art Basel many, many times during its 13 years – an art fair that’s exploded into a million orbits of parties and scenes - I’d never seen anything like it. “I would like to see a Sofia Coppola movie about this one night,” someone sassed to me. Did I mention there were inflatable rainbows?

On hand for all the bedlam was Miley’s new boyfriend, Patrick Schwarzenegger (son of Arnold and Maria Shriver). He was personally ferrying some friends who were stuck outside – already playing the role of party intern for his pop-star sweetie. And if there was any doubt that Miley has become well-acquainted, indeed, with the Kennedy family, we noted that Patrick’s uncle, Anthony Kennedy Shriver, was along, too. Shades of Taylor Swift, circa 2012.

Parsing the agendas of a party is a sport for me, and this was a particularly interesting occasion. For Miley, who’s rumoured to have waived a fee for this bash, it was a chance to reposition herself with a more sophisticated demo and launch herself in the art-pop category occupied by the likes of Lady Gaga. For V magazine, one of the hosts behind the party, this was buzz. Major buzz. For Tommy Hilfiger, who recently purchased the iconic Raleigh Hotel, with its 1950s Cubano vibe, it was a money-can’t-buy opportunity to mark his territory. And for celebrity gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, who essentially made Miley happen at the party, it was a primo chance to harden his own position, especially after a bit of a rough ride in the art world over the last year.

The “art world.” It’s not possible to do Art Basel without hearing those two teeny words. And it’s funny how they meant it – for, it is a different “world”. Unlike the words of fashion, or sports, where the basic vocabularies are known and there are different access points, it’s always struck me how opaque the art circuit is, with its own unique celebrities and hidden languages. It’s a world where Marina Abramovic, for instance, is as famous as Meryl Streep. And where, say, “Gagosian Gallery” is as big as Disneyland.

Nestling up to this “world” is practically a job for luxury brands, as well as more mainstream celebrities. Everybody wins. It’s called “synergy” - and this week was no exception. Miley wasn’t the only gal about, in other words! Spotted at the actual fair were regulars like Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as Diddy. Among the many, many sightings at the many, many parties, there was Karolina Kurkowa, at Soho House Miami; Eva Longoria hosting an event for the new Rimowa store; Joe Jonas at the Dom Perignon blow-out at Wall; Robert Pattinson at a Surface magazine shindig at the all-new Edition Hotel; Emily Blunt at the “Timeless Portofino” dinner; Linda Evangelista at a book launch hosted by W magazine; Kate Hudson at the Louis Vuitton thing.

And on and on it went this week in Miami, merrily.

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