2010 November 9

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

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Kate Hudson in Lanvin and Fergie in Zac Posen Kate Hudson in Lanvin and Fergie in Zac Posen
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(NEW YORK) Twenty years ago, Cindi Leive was an editorial assistant at Glamour who scored a ticket to the magazine’s modest, inaugural Women of the Year cocktail ceremony at Rainbow Room. Last night, Leive and the title’s publisher Bill Wackermann were greeting everyone from Julia Roberts to Oprah to President Dalia GrybauskaitÄ— of Lithuania during the twentieth anniversary edition of the honors at Carnegie Hall. In other words, these L’Oréal Paris-sponsored awards have enough Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy winners in the audience to justify a globally-syndicated TV broadcast.  “I'm extremely sleep deprived, but hopefully it doesn't show,” smiled Leive right after meeting Cher. “We've been doing it for enough years, so if anything goes wrong two minutes before the start, we can't fix it. You just have to relax and enjoy the ride.”

But with so many recognizable giants around, it took even the biggest names a second to settle down. “I was calm until about 47 seconds ago,” smiled Roberts. “Until I was squeezed in between Queen Rania and Donatella on the red carpet.” Cher admitted she was a little bit anxious. “But I guess one way to make it to Carnegie is to really have a good beauty team,” she shrugged. Everyone was in awe of Lifetime Achievement Award winner and Burlesque star. New York's First Girlfriend Sandra Lee even dressed as Cher for Halloween…twice!  “You'll need a lot of good wigs,” she advised. “And then, of course, some fantastic outfits. But nothing beats the real thing!”

Cher might have had competition in the icon category with Donatella Versace, who won an award of her own and assembled not one, but two A-listers (Hilary Swank and Janet Jackson) to present her with the trophy. “This is really a huge highlight for me,” said the designer. “I feel like I'm in a group of fantastic women, and they're all here for their own reasons. I'm ready to give some standing ovations.” Jackson immediately agreed to present the scarlet prize to one of her favorite designers. “I really do consider Donatella like family,” said the entertainer. “I'd probably travel just about anywhere for her.” Swank, meanwhile, enjoyed some good-natured catcalls before she hit the red carpet. “I've already got whistled at in this little number,” smiled the Conviction star. “But we're not messing around tonight---this is Donatella!”

Lindsey Vonn got a nice little makeover of her own, courtesy of Tory Burch. “But I think my skiing pales in comparison to Lindsey,” said Burch. “Although I do really enjoy hitting the slopes!”  “I'm pretty much a dork when I meet all the celebrities,” admitted the Olympian. "I'll be taking a lot of pictures and posting them on Twitter very shortly." One of her first conquests? Mayor Bloomberg, who presented Vonn with her trophy. “I was excited to come to this thing," he joked. "Until I found out I wasn’t going to get one of these statues!"

Other ceremony highlights? Katie Couric honoring Somalia’s great Dr. Hawa Abdi and her two daughters, Janelle Monae opening the show and Kate Hudson presenting to Fergie. “I feel like such a crying idiot,” bawled the singer as she thanked everyone from her husband to her therapist. Others spotlighted? Everyone from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago and other female heads of state to yes, Tavi Gevinson, who was cited as one of the 20 women to watch by Chelsea Clinton. And as Oprah presented yet another WOTY honor to Roberts (it doesn’t hurt that she became a L’Oreal ambassador in February), the actress voiced what the capacity crowd at Carnegie Hall was thinking for the last few hours. “What the hell is this thing?!” wondered the star as she took a glance at her abstract prize. “Is it a brooch? Is it a hair pin? I guess we’ll find out after a few drinks!”

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