On Friday evening, a trove of well-heeled guests gathered on the 14th floor of the Edition hotel, where fêteing for a cause was in order. At the Ian Scrager outpost, partygoers shed coats (Prada and Max Mara aplenty) and joined the festivities in the luxuriant Terrace room, a pseudo-treetop seemingly worlds apart from the raucous streets of Times Square. Waiting for them was their host Anna Wintour (and a group of bedecked Broadway fans) with whom they would later attend a special performance of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.” All of this was organized to benefit RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, which received the proceeds from tickets sold to the evening.
A roomful of models, editors and theatergoers enjoyed libations below a panoply of thatched fauna and low light. Bereft of the chill outside, flushed guests co-mingled (Wendi Murdoch and Zac Posen, “Tina” book writer Katori Hall, Valentino runway model Adut Akech and original “Ain’t Too Proud” star Jeremy Pope). Billy Porter, toting a Jimmy Choo purse as ice-white as his frosted pantsuit, lounged alongside partner Adam on the outskirts of the room. By the cocktail bar, a scarved James Nederlander Jr. and his executive vice president, Nick Scandalios, chatted ahead of the performance at the Nederlander-owned theater.
To get the style set and theater kids under one roof is no small feat — especially with Fashion Week beginning on Feb. 3. Such an occasion required nearly a year of planning. Wintour, who has tapped Met Gala designer Raul Avila to festoon the Tony Awards for five consecutive years, had conjured the idea for the pre-show cocktail in late spring 2019. The editor saw “Tina” in London (and her predilection quickly followed), igniting chatter with producer Tali Pelman about organizing a function with support from Condé Nast. Choosing the right foundation for the event came next. The group wanted to choose a cause to honor Tina’s story and with 25 years helping over three million domestic and sexual assault survivors, RAINN was the natural choice.
“This is a really important gathering of true survivors, who mirror Tina’s journey,” said Phyllida Lloyd, the director of “Tina” and previously of “Mamma Mia!” She was referring to brave women like writer and activist Janet Mock and RAINN advocate Maxine Outerbridge, who spoke about their hardships in a series of speeches that became the focal point of the evening. “There cannot be enough voices added to the injustice that women, particularly, are suffering,” Lloyd said. “The show is there to send out a message of hope for people who are trapped in seemingly insurmountable circumstances, that you can walk, that there is a way out.”
The musical reflects on Tina’s battles with abuse, as imposed by musician and then-husband Ike Turner. Toward the closing of the program, supermodel Joan Smalls urged partygoers to contribute to the RAINN donation table, or talk with one of several organization members in attendance about how to get involved. “Tina spoke about turning poison into medicine when we opened our show here on Broadway in November of 2019,” Pelman said. “And that really came spontaneously from her. When you have a platform, you have to use it as much as you can.”
As guests slowly funneled down from the Terrace room to catch their 8 p.m. show, some wondered where the Tonys race would lead this year. “It is exciting. It’s an amazing season of shows; it’s a very eclectic season of shows,” Pelman shared, raising brows in anticipation. “I’ve been seeing every one of the shows as they open, and it’s super strong.” On the topic of their audience du jour, Lloyd confessed a specific excitement for this group: “There are so many powerful voices in the fashion world. It’s going to be very exciting to see what they get from the show.”