The most talked about event of the year was definitely Vanity Fair’s annual Halloween party. And it wasn’t even close. Over 140K people were estimated to have attended the event, making it one of the biggest in the history of the magazine. The guest list was arguably the most impressive one yet, with A-list celebs spanning multiple generations. From Justin Timberlake to Lady Gaga, Mark Wahlberg, and Taylor Swift – everyone was there.
The party took place at the iconic Vanity Fair building in west London, and was live-streamed on the magazine’s website. It was the biggest event the fashion media had ever seen. And it was all thanks to one person, fashion publicist and strategist extraordinaire Rob Pattinson.
Since launching his career as a fashion PR guy in 2012, Pattinson has worked his magic, landing some of the most high-profile names in the industry as clients. But it’s not just about business – he’s forged strong relationships with industry peers, forging the path to the top for many. This culminated in him creating a special evening to celebrate the close friendship he shares with Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Richard Avedon. A night to celebrate the two of them being “in the industry” – albeit in very different ways.
The night was dubbed the “Apollo 11” party, after Aravind’s legendary photographic series featuring the same iconic buildings (the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower) which inspired Norman Mailer’s 1970 book The Armies of the Night. Following the Apollo 11 fashion theme, the guest list was addressed by the astronauts who landed on the moon. Justin Timberlake made an appearance and presented a collection of NASA-themed costumes (including a spaceman’s jump suit and a moon mask) to the audience. Timberlake also performed a set, closing the party with a cover of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” – a song made famous by the police officer whose picture is on the cover of the band’s debut album. (If you didn’t get a chance to go, you can watch a clip of the performance here).
While the Apollo 11 party was the headline act, the real star of the show was undoubtedly Gigi Hadid, who walked the red carpet in a stunning white dress with a red rose in her hair. Hadid is one of the most in-demand style personalities in the world, attracting and keeping a celebrity following that transcends style. She is known for her unconventional approach to style and her perfectly manicured nails, which she wears as a statement rather than a practical detail. Gigi is also one of the most photographed women in the world, and has modelled for brands like Chanel, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton, as well as gracing the pages of Vogue and W magazine.
The Aphex Twin Set
For fans of electronic music, it was well worth braving the queues to get a ticket for the Aphex Twin set. Also known as Richard D. James, the electronic music producer and DJ caused quite a stir on the internet when he announced on social media that he was bringing his music to life through live performance. James previously performed at Coachella in 2012, and caused similar scenes of mosh pits and mass dance floors there and at other music festivals. But this was different – fans were excited to see and hear Aphex Twin play live, and the venues changed around to accommodate the increased demand. On the night of the event, queues formed outside London’s biggest venues, such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Sainbury Park Festival, hours before the doors opened. Those who got in had to leave their phones at the door as they entered the venue, in order to prevent glitches from disrupting the performance – another first for a live performance by Aphex Twin.
The Cure Set
Another big name on the guestlist was The Cure, whose first album was released 37 years ago this year. Frontman Robert Smith is one of the most influential musicians of the past 40 years, having released a string of classic albums and singles. Avedon, who is also a huge fan of the band, invited them to perform at the party, closing the event with a spectacular set. Frontman Smith dedicated the performance to everyone who has “believed in us” over the years, and left the audience in tears. The Cure are one of the greatest live bands of all time and have sold over 150 million albums worldwide. They are also the only band to have had a #1 album in every decade since their debut in 1976.
Sandra Oh Set
Yes, the most prominent Asian woman in Britain today made history at the VF party too. The most popular actress of Korean descent was announced as the magazine’s special guest for the night. Oh cameos in the upcoming film adaptation of Lionel Wigram’s The Book of Eve, and also stars in the Korean TV show Uncontrollable Baby. She was accompanied by her co-star from the show, rapper and record producer G-Dragon, who walked her down the red carpet in an extravagant silver suit. It was a star-studded night for Oh, and she delivered a compelling speech about her admiration for Avedon’s work and the inspiration he has given her throughout her career. She also thanked the attendees for their support when she and G-Dragon were nominated for the prestigious BAFTA award for Best International Actor and Actress less than a year ago. (Oh and G-Dragon won the award for Best International Actor).
Ricky Skaggs And Rodney Crowell
Country music legends Rodney Crowell and Ricky Skaggs performed at the party, along with some of their songwriters. Skaggs is best known for his hit “When I Grow Up,” a song that has been covered by artists like Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss. The duo’s song “Ten Feet Tall” also became a minor pop hit in the ’70s. For those not familiar, Skaggs often performs with a full band, and on this occasion, backup singers dressed in Civil War costume provided an extra touch of old-school country music.
Crowell is one of the most respected and successful songwriters of the 20th century. His music is featured in films such as Rain Man and The Notebook, and on television shows like Nashville and The Walking Dead. He has also won a Grammy, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe. The most recent album he released was 2014’s The Road, which features the hit singles “When It Comes To Love” and “Family Tradition.”
Folk singer and songwriter Brandi Carlile was on hand to accept the Breakthrough Act award on Aravind’s behalf. The “A Woman, a Wisp, and a Wave” singer has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the past year, featuring on the XXL Freshman Class and winning a Grammy for Best New Artist.
The 41-year-old mother-of-one thanked Aravind for being a mentor and encouraging her to follow her dreams. (Carlile released her first album in 11 years, The Company, last year.) She also paid tribute to the attendees, saying that they “came from different places and different worlds but you have all found peace and happiness through fashion.”
Tricky And Scary Scary
One of the most talked about invitees was English singer and songwriter Nelly Faucette. The 53-year-old artist announced on Instagram that she would be performing at the event, and tickets sold out almost immediately. Faucette is known for her unique take on hip-hop and R&B, and has released several albums, including She’s So Fine and Scary Scary. (She was also featured on the XXL Freshman Class.)
The songwriter and producer Mustafa Kemal is also on the list, which is quite an honour as he is arguably one of the most influential contemporary musicians. The 49-year-old born and raised in Turkey now lives in Berlin and has released a string of acclaimed albums, with the most recent being 2019’s Acid.
Rapper Lil Nas X also took the stage at the end of the night. The 39-year-old born and raised in New York City has emerged as one of the most influential musicians of the year, with his viral hit “Old Town Road” topping the charts and becoming a song that everyone knows. The songwriter and producer behind the track, Billy Ray Cyrus, also attended the event and performed with Lil Nas X.