Starving for a Handbag at Tod's

What a strange evening I had at the Tod's party. The event was organized to celebrate the debut of a film/commercial for the company's "Pashmy" handbag, which looks something like a nylon bowling bag. The commercial was filmed by Dennis Hopper and star actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who also attended the dinner in all of her tall, slim, blonde glory.

Tall, slim and blonde Gywneth Paltrow. (Luca Bruno/AP)

The strangeness began when I arrived at the 8:30 dinner sometime in the vicinity of 8:40 to find that the doors were not open. This was not a fashion show; this was dinner! Aren't you supposed to be on time for dinner? (When my mother has a dinner party and she tells guests to be there at a certain time, by golly, they better be in their seats at the appointed hour or there is going to be hell to pay if her food gets cold.) To me this was akin to arriving at someone's home for dinner and having to stand out on the sidewalk until they finished combing their hair. Miss Manners and Mother Givhan would not have been amused.

When the doors opened we headed into a large open space with flashing lights, a bar, a disc jockey platform and various monitors showing behind the scenes footage from the filming of the commercial, which the brand insists on calling a film. I noticed that as the cocktail party wore on and the guests grew restless, the bartenders started pouring bigger and bigger drinks.

I ran into Derek Lam, who designs a ready-to-wear collection for Tod's. He'll be in Paris showing his own collection to international editors. Also chatted up Thakoon Panichgul, who is collaborating on a collection for Hogan, which is part of the Tod's empire. I congratulated him on having Michelle Obama wear one of his dresses on the night her husband accepted the Democratic presidential nomination. He was still giddy from seeing his work on such a big stage, especially because she bought it herself and wasn't "styled" into it.

Around 10 p.m. we were finally seated for dinner. I was ready to swipe the bread from the plates of every person at my table. That's how hungry I was.

We finally saw the full length commercial, which was modeled after "La Dolce Vita" and featured Gwynnie being chased by papparazzi, losing her bag and having it returned to her by a charming reporter. How nice. The reporter is the hero! There were lots of close-ups of the bag, of course. Loving, glorious close-ups.

The first course, shrimp on a little puddle of tomato soup, appeared on my plate sometime around 10:30. It was delicious, but meager. If I could have stuck my entire face in the plate and licked the sides I would have done it. I was ready to gnaw on my own arm by this point.

I left before the main branzino course. I had to. There were about 250 people at the party and I needed to get a cab. I had to beat the crowds. While it was an odd evening and more glamorous in theory than in reality, I will say that I admire Diego della Valle - he's Mr. Tod's - and his forthright behavior. The evening was about promoting the brand. There was even a photographer following him around toting a veritable photo studio.

And all was not lost. I got to wear my new gold and silver metallic snakeskin Dolce & Gabbana heels that I bought -- half price! -- at an outlet on Capri. Yeah, I know. Like I needed to be buying sparkly shoes when the econonmy is tanking. I figure if it gets any worse, their reflected glow will keep me warm this winter.

By Robin Givhan |  September 25, 2008; 7:30 AM ET
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Thank you. I thoroughly enjoy your personal view of the collections. I bet your shoes are fabulous.

Posted by: Bethesda | September 25, 2008 4:40 PM

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