THE edict came with the invitation. Guests were to wear bright colors, and not just any, but orange, aqua, chartreuse and fuchsia. Well, the best parties always have some vision and control. And for Rush Philanthropic Arts, a foundation for disadvantaged children and artists that held its annual benefit at the East Hampton home of Russell Simmons on Saturday, who would argue?
“I think guests appreciate a little nudge and direction,” said David Negri, a designer of the event in a sherbet-hued Lilly Pulitzer suit. “They don’t have to worry about what to wear.”
But that doesn’t mean they didn’t think it through. Many who had paid $1,500 for the extensive tented dinner came as directed, rushing in the rain and dripping with color past a lawn of manic mimes in appropriately tinted body leotards that reinforced the theme.
Mariah Carey, an honoree with Nick Cannon, her husband, wore regulation fuchsia. Melanie Fiona, who sang before dinner, was in party-approved teal blue slacks, a raspberry blouse and carried a screaming yellow handbag. “I knew I had to put it all together for tonight,” she said.
State Senator Malcolm A. Smith wore an orange golf shirt under a dark blazer with a matching orange pocket square. “I bet you won’t be wearing that again,” a guest told him.
“You just might be right,” he said, laughing.
Not everyone followed the night’s edict. Star Jones wore a champagne colored cocktail dress of sequins. She couldn’t find it in chartreuse? “No, but it’s bright and sparkly and that’s how I roll,” she said. Joseph Simmons (a k a Rev Run) the host’s younger brother, wore ministerial black with a white clerical collar.
Anita Baker, who sang after dinner, wore basic black, too. “She didn’t get the memo, but her colorful voice makes up for it,” said Mr. Negri, the party designer who had filled 90 tables with handmade color-coded centerpieces and had overseen the painting of 800 rental chairs in colors that would dismay most hosts.
Russell Simmons ran around in a beige suit and less-than-eye-popping blue checked shirt. “I didn’t get an outfit together because I’ve had so much on my mind,” he said.
Oh? What could be more urgent than dressing for his party’s theme? How about peace in the Middle East through the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. He is the chairman. “I just got back from Israel,” he said. “We’re working on an international project that gets imams to speak in synagogues and rabbis to speak in mosques.”
Give that man a pass on the dress code. His older brother, Danny Simmons, an artist, made up for him anyway by wearing a custom-made shirt full of multicolored dots. It dazzled.
So did the live auction that Ms. Jones led, which brought the funds raised for the evening to almost $2 million. The crowd went bonkers when she gleefully shrieked they had reached their goal.
The only color that really matters at a party for a good cause? The color of money.