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A cluster of stars

Hollywood heavy hitters mix with local powerhouses at an ultra-exclusive celebration for Woody Allen's latest film

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

Before being led upstairs for a postscreening dinner in his honour, Woody Allen paused with wife Soon-Yi Previn to survey some of the luxurious merchandise in Chanel's Bloor Street store.

Not as sharply dressed as some of the other guests who enjoyed champagne in advance of his arrival, Mr. (Fashion) Crimes and Misdemeanors may have wanted something to spiff up his denim button-down and khakis. So I asked him if he was looking for a tie (the boutique carries a small selection).

"No," he said. "I'm just waiting for her to tell me to get my credit card out."

A funny answer if only because we all knew that shopping was not on the agenda Tuesday night. Rather, the Chanel evening for Mr. Allen's film Cassandra's Dream was one of the few truly exclusive festival invitations, as Toronto's leading style-setters supped with Hollywood heavy hitters.

Were this a speed-dating event, Flare editor-in-chief Lisa Tant could have made eyes at Colin Farrell and Fashion Television's Jeanne Beker would have had the opportunity to play footsie with Ewan McGregor. I pair Kontent Group publisher Michael King with Mr. Allen's new muse, Hayley Atwell. Poor Harvey Weinstein, who arrived and left and arrived again - perhaps he was antsy without Jessica Alba. My "match point" would have been the swarthy David Alexanian, who helped direct Mr. McGregor's round-the-world motorcycle journey, Long Way Round.

Alas, this was a dreamy game and thankfully, my name is not Cassandra (the cursed Grecian beauty whose prophecies could never be believed). And anyway, many of the 70 guests - including actress-cum-goddess Deborah Kara Unger and Chris Cirillo - were happily partnered already.

Which is why I focused my attention - at least during the lively reception - on some of the beautiful fashion decisions made by men and women alike (we were in Chanel, after all).

Ms. Atwell, all of 25, wore a sophisticated but age-appropriate black dress with jewelled detailing from Moschino (and Chanel drop earrings, she made sure to tell me). Most exciting for her, however, was that the outfit had side pockets into which she tucks her hands.

If anyone set the bar high, it was Mr. McGregor, who accepted my hopefully-not-obsequious compliment that he had pulled off the perfect balance of polish and punk.

Meanwhile, Ms. Unger, who I had the pleasure of meeting briefly at Sean Penn's party, complimented me on my shoes before we both complained that the festival is hard on feet.

"Buy Dr. Scholl's gel inserts; you'll love me for them," she suggested, adding that her Armani pumps were relatively more tolerable than Manolos. I loved her more when she declared, "You look very DKU," which is the endearing acronym used by all her friends.

Leaving without dessert (but having enjoyed the appetizer of smoked salmon and tuna tartare followed by beef tenderloin, all prepared by the Four Seasons Hotel), Mr. Allen seemed insistent upon holding hands with Ms. Previn (she, smartly dressed in a pencil skirt and leather jacket). I couldn't decide whether this registered as endearing or geriatric.

And even though Mr. Farrell also left early, the energy was alive as guests took bites of their "chocolate bomb" dessert (a sure sign we've gotten over Sept. 11 sensitivity issues).

Toward the end, Roberta and Chris Hanley jived to James Brown ("Bringing down the house of Chanel" was how Mr. Alexanian described it). The consensus was then to eschew the InStyle bash in favour of the private party for Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, held at a stunning Rosedale home. Mr. McGregor was the exception and opted to retire early.

His loss. Inside, I found Marilyn Manson and Evan Rachel Wood hanging out in the high-ceiling library. The shock rocker was more beautiful than I imagined. Disarmingly sweet, even (I felt guilty about suggesting anything to the contrary in Monday's column).

At one point, he tried to take a picture of himself with Ms. Unger and Ms. Wood and grabbed a candle to hold underneath their faces, creating that characteristic eerie glow.

TIFF home parties are different than industry parties in that you often find kids, who are not as excited to be in the company of movie stars as to be out on a school night. Much bigger kids included Pat Riley, Robbie Robertson, Garth Drabinsky, Moses Znaimer and talented music video director Little X. Great mix.

By midnight, I finally had the opportunity to chat with the guests of honour, two people who are so personable that I felt as if we were catching up rather than meeting for the first time.

Ms. Zeta-Jones, gorgeous glowing skin and silky hair, said that she and the host had issued an order to the heavens to stop raining: "No!" she shouted and pointed upward, a not-so-instant replay.

When Mr. Douglas heard that some of us would be hitting a small gathering for artistic genius Julian Schnabel, who has made a film about Lou Reed, he said, "Give him a big kiss for me."

I never ended up meeting Mr. Schnabel, sadly, though I fell in love with the venue, a little-known Cumberland bar called Y-Not. By the time I returned to the InStyle party - fantastic by all accounts and even more so given the surprise appearance by Paris Hilton - I found only a few stragglers near the deluxe dessert table, oh yes, and actor Michael Pitt.

Not exactly a Hollywood ending. But a truly memorable night.

averner@globeandmail.com

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