Monday, February 23, 2009
EJAF Academy Awards Viewing Party 2009
For stars not attending the Academy Awards ceremony itself, the gala – now in its 17th year – is widely considered the best place to be seen on the big night, aside from Vanity Fair magazine's exclusive after-party.
The 650 celebrity guests, welcomed by Sir Elton and his civil partner, David Furnish, included actors Kiefer Sutherland and Sharon Stone, model Elle Macpherson and singer Natasha Bedingfield.
With a 3,500-dollar (£2,400) price tag per ticket, there was no sign of the current recession at the fund-raiser for the Elton John Aids Foundation, held at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
As he arrived at the soirée, Sir Elton said there was "no way" he worried about paring down the party in light of global economic woes.
"We give them the best that they can possibly afford," he said.
"It's beautiful inside the tent, the food's great, everyone will be served the best wines, but they need to be because they've paid an awful lot of money for a seat," he added.
The musician was closely involved in the organising even the smaller details, saying he chose the crockery, cutlery and waiters himself.
"You won't see an ugly waiter here," he joked to reporters. "I'm hands-on with the waiters more than the cutlery."
Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception and a five-course dinner while they watched the televised Oscars ceremony, followed by an auction and a performance by Sir Elton and R&B star Raphael Saadiq.
Top New York-based designer Antony Todd was responsible for the event's opulent decor, which had a colour scheme described as cream, black and "mirror accent".
Los Angeles chef Wayne Elias took care of the lavish meal, which kicked off with a seasonal salad with smoked scamorza, pomegranate reduction and tarragon vinaigrette.
When asked if he would be checking out the food, Ramsay joked: "You don't come here to eat."
The fiery chef, joined by his wife Tana, said Sir Elton was "your sort of perfect granddad".
"The man certainly knows how to throw a party. Good day for the Brits."
But Ramsay was not planning to hit the dance floor, commenting: "I'm not very good at dancing – 15 stone doesn't really dance well."
Glamour girl Katie Price, aka Jordan, appeared in a long, black Lloyd Klein gown and had pop star husband Peter Andre in tow.
Asked who took longer getting ready, she said: "Pete – always. He must have washed his hair and changed it about five different times."
Andre, in a black shirt and tux, said: "It's not exactly true. I normally take five minutes but today I took a bit longer, even though she's the glamorous one."
Beckham, fresh from the success of her fashion collection launch in New York, continued the trend for long, black dresses. Likewise English actress Kate Beckinsale, who said she was hoping for "a Pot Noodle and a cup of tea" at the bash.
Exclusive items up for grabs in the auction included a short break for 10 guests at the 380-year-old Chateau de Balleroy in Normandy and a one-hour hitting session with tennis champ Andy Roddick.
Well-heeled couples could also bid to accompany Sir Elton and Furnish to the Vanity Fair party later in the night – one of the most difficult invitations to obtain in the Hollywood calendar.
Last year Sir Elton's event raised a record 5.1 million dollars (£3.5 million) and he hoped this year's would be as successful.
He said: "We need that money because we have to give that money to people who desperately need it."