Friday, October 12, 2007

UGG Australia Opening Party

'Top Chef' diva disses event, but life goes on

Why is it that Chicago openings—restaurants, bars, retail stores specifically—fail to draw major celebs like in New York or Los Angeles? I mean, for crying out loud, we’re in the third largest city in the country, yet our events don’t appear worthy for A-List appearances.

That was the case at the opening of the UGG Australia store on the Gold Coast Thursday. I was excited to hear that Padma Lakshmi, host of Bravo’s wildly popular “Top Chef” series, was confirmed to attend. It was especially timely seeing how the show’s live finale was taped in Chicago last week, and she and entourage were seen out partying it up around town immediately following the show. So I just knew she was coming. Not so much.

Whether the mostly stylish crowd of local nightlife insiders and fashion industry types noticed her absence or not is up for grabs. They were too busy drooling over the real stars of this show, the UGG footwear. Most probably thought that the UGG brand didn’t go beyond what we’re used to seeing: the thick, low-heeled sheepskin boots worn by teenage girls and Hollywood starlets slummin’.

But they were in for a surprise as this sleek new store—outfitted appropriately for a Gold Coast location with natural accents of slate floors, hard wood and sweetly soft leather sofas—showcased just about every look possible. Wedges. Moccasins. Pumps. Slingbacks. Biker boots. Cowboy boots. Booties. Slides. And most were built for comfort with the signature inner wool lining. There’s even a line of soft leather handbags and outerwear that most female guests couldn’t keep their hands off.

But not all was lost on the celebrity beat, even if the guests didn’t have to travel far to make it. Seen sipping bubbly and nabbing appetizers were first-season “The Apprentice” contestant Ereka Vetrini (who’s now a co-host on new iVillage show, “In the Loop”); Pat Brickhouse, widow of WGN announcer Jack Brickhouse;“The Bachelorette” contestant Jamie Blyth and Bulls point guard Chris Duhon. – Audarshia Townsend