The Palm Springs International Film Festival gala draws its share of A-list stars — this year, Reese Witherspoon and Brad Pitt were among them — but more uniquely for a Hollywood award show, it also attracts glamorous women of a certain age who populate the tony bedroom communities of Palm Springs. They come in droves of mink and marabou to the annual event, where a dinner plate starts at $350, and where a spirit of giddy fandom permeates the evening. Unlike the Globes or the SAG Awards, where an invitation requires some industry or industry-adjacent career and a requisite ho-hum attitude about the whole "Hollywood" thing, this audience is just as equally populated by local cinephiles and philanthropists, and hence, has a refreshingly un-jaded aura hovering around it.
As an entertainment journalist, my (admittedly awesome) job at this weekend's event was to interview honorees like Eddie Redmayne, who looked divine in a velvet Gucci tux, and Julianne Moore in her bold, off-the-shoulder orange Delpozo gown. (Of Julianne, one gala-goer snapping photos on a pricey-looking camera informed me, completely unsolicited: "She used to be my neighbor. She was very down to earth. She used to work out with her garage door open!") Still, this year, much like every other year, I found myself craning my neck between interviews to catch a glimpse of those two women in matching floor-length minks, the lady holding a reflective, pink Jeff Koons-inspired rabbit clutch, the man in platform stiletto boots with flat-ironed, black locks spilling forth from underneath a driver's cap —and, wait, was that Joan Collins? — as they made their way into the convention center. If you were to pile up all the paillettes and ostrich feathers and sequins on display, they would easily have weighed enough to sink a small Carnival cruise liner.
Inspired by the aggressive, caution-to-the-wind ensembles I've come to know and love from this event, I myself busted out not one, but two faux-fur accoutrements over my Jonathan Saunders colorblock jersey gown this year: a pink coat and a multicolored collar. It was my small tribute to the women and men the of Palm Springs Film Festival gala. I hope they never stop pulling out all the bling-drenched stops at their city's premiere social event . . . if only so I can one day publish a coffee-table book documenting all the memorable looks I've seen there.