“I love this woman,” cried Uma Thurman, squeezing Ali McGraw, as I tried to give them space in the entrance of the restaurant.
“Love means never having to say you're sorry,” replied Ali, as she and Uma gamely posed for photos. Actually, she did not. But wouldn't it have been great if she had? Ever the icon, immortal for the classic 1970 tear-jerker Love Story – the film that spawned one of the most memorable, as well, cryptic movie quotes of all time – Ali only smiled serenely, looking graciously '76 in a crisp white shirt, black bell-hoop skirt, and her hair pulled into a bun worthy of a ballet instructor.
A rare appearance? You bet. Having retired from the scene for some time, and living a quiet existence amidst the George O'Keefe illuminance of New Mexico, the icon had turned up with us, here in London, for a brilliant film series, hosted by designer Michael Kors in association with Vanity Fair. Dubbed 'Icons of Style', the event was built around three specific stylish flicks – Almost Famous, The Thomas Crowne Affair, and the aforementioned Love Story. To kick off the three-day series, Michael commanded an on-stage conversation with three of the ladies from those films, namely Kate Hudson, Rene Russo, and...of course, Ali! It was held at the new Ham Yard Hotel, in Soho. A fun, insightful, free-flowing kind of girl-chat.
Kate Hudson and Poppy Delevingne were chummy at the fête
All that talking, though, can really help build up an appetite, which is why we all headed to a starry dinner afterwards, held at the British institution that is The Ivy. For many, like British stalwarts as Jemima Goldsmith and Poppy Delevingne, it was the first time in a while: Closed for nearly five months for a restoration, the fantastically old-school resto was giving us a special sneak-peek before it re-opens officially at month's end. “My favourite kind of renovation,” a British lad, with the perfectly perforated vows was saying to me at the bar. “It looks new, but like it's always been here.”
Cheers to that! The Ivy has been part of UK lore for a long time, indeed. Names like Noel Coward and Marlene Deitrich hang out here during its first incarnation (being in London always reminds one of history's long cloak). More recently, everyone from the Beckhams to Damien Hirst made it their clubhouse. Tonight, meanwhile? Mr. Kors managed to bring out quite the smash crowd for a dinner that included zucchinni frites – Hollywood royalty, plus Euro-darlings like Bianca Brandolini, model Lily Donaldson, race-car driver Jensen Button, and Net-a-Porter's Natalie Massenet. Uma, by the way – looking quite bombshell in a plunging black something - had arrived with her dashing hotelier-boyfriend Andre Balasz, with whom she seems to have reunited with after their break-up a decade ago. Just call him her former ex-boyfriend!
Uma stunned in a black satin gown
My highlight of the evening, by far? Talking to Ali! “I'm off to Ireland next,” she revealed. And then, she went on, she's finally getting back to some acting: she reunites with her Love Story co-star, Ryan O'Neal, for a touring production of Love Letters. “I mostly have to just read...thank God!” she laughed.
Hot crowd, hot conversation. At my table, the talk veered in a variety of directions, but settled on a few choice subjects: the Royals (of course!) and, more specifically, Prince Harry's rather candid (and wordy) interview a few days that he's itching to maybe kinda settle down and have kids of his own. “Prince Harry is the new Bridget Jones,” I said, quoting a columnist in The Guardian I'd just read. In another part of the room, the talk was about the record-setting price paid for a painting ever this week, a.k.a the $179.4 million (US) shovelled out for a Picasso.
We didn't leave with Picassos this particular night, alas, but we did take off with special occasion aviator sunglasses, courtesy of the host-most, Michael Kors (who, himself, is rarely without his aviators...and has said he owns 60 pairs!) The glasses – in either solid-gold or black - were actually placed at our tables, next to our namecards. And while it may have be raining hard outside – London, sigh – with Michael, things are always sunny. “You can't go wrong with a pair of aviators,” he told me.