Dancing with Will Smith at the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscars party

BEVERLY HILLS, California. – “In 20 years to come, this is the funniest fun I’ve ever had,” said Adrien Brody, the Academy Award-winning actor, Sunday at Vanity Fair’s annual Oscars party. “I had real conversations, about politics, life and art”.

For a change, at this annual gathering of industry luminaries, a real conversation was almost inevitable. The main reason was the train wreck that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage.

“That moment, I can’t talk about it,” said Amy Schumer, who hosted the Oscars with Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, after chatting with Larry David just off the dance floor. “It was a big deal and I’m still processing it, and I have to be so careful,” she added, before turning to a group of friends for a lifeline. “Someone tell me to stop talking.”

It’s been nearly 40 years since Tina Brown, the former director of Vanity Fair, conceived a party that would steal the thunder at Swifty Lazar’s Oscar. Mr. Lazar not only knew how to bond with the stars, he observed Mrs. Brown in his published diaries of her. He has also tamed a “menagerie” who witnessed him on her condition or not at all.

When a celebrity of Mr. Smith’s stature acts in public, it’s more than a source of editorial clucking and viral memes. It is a threat to the fiction of the kumbaya show business. This year’s Vanity Fair party, then, had the air of a celebrity bonfire club. Other Oscar parties, like the one organized by Madonna and Guy Oseary, might be more intimate and exclusive, but nothing beats Vanity Fair in bold volume.

And so for a few hours of the night in a series of tents, gardens and outdoor lounges at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, the most famous characters on the planet mingled, danced, drank and smoked (mostly weed). ) and demonstrated what a great leveling celebrity can be. It is a universally established truth in Hollywood that, on some level of fame, everyone is your best friend.

To reach the shrine, invited guests had to go through a series of security checks (negative PCR test results were required) and a blue carpet lined with screaming photographers. Some bright fireflies, including Billie Eilish, Pedro Almodóvar and Jessica Chastain (wearing an emerald green Gucci dress that evoked Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”), were immediately diverted to a private studio where Mark Seliger shot their formal portraits.

Others were drawn directly into the actual party, where phone cameras and other recording devices were strictly banned. Surprisingly few people have broken the no-phone rules to capture theatrical moments like Kathy Hilton dancing with Marj Gubelmann, aka DJ Mad Marj, or Bill Murray wearing a cheeky cap, dancing alone.

If they had stayed past midnight, they would have caught Will Smith, seemingly unperturbed by the controversy he had just stirred, accompanied by his wife and children, and flickering at “Gettin ‘Jiggy Wit It”.

They would also have captured Serena Williams towering over the crowd in a silver minidress, and Zendaya standing next to a potted palm and locked in conversation with Timothée Chalamet, both surrounded by an aura of marijuana smoke exhaled by an acquaintance.

They would have seen Jason Bateman locked in a hug with Kevin Bacon; Jon Hamm momentarily alone near the men’s room looking as desperate as a pound puppy; Kristen Stewart moving in a floor-length black lace dress; and Zoë Kravitz smokes in Marlboro chain.

They would have caught Sarah Paulson shouting, “Dog! Dog! Dog! ”As she pushed past Kate Hudson and Chris Pine to pet a stranger’s fluffy white dog.

In Before Times, it was customary for the most famous to work diligently on the red carpet and take a round or two of merriment, before sneaking off to another supposedly better party.

Midnight was the traditional witch hour. This time the atmosphere was more convivial, and for obvious reasons. Two years of separation have put a strain on celebrity stoves.

“People are really happy to see each other again,” said Georgina Chapman, the stylist, as the partygoers huddled against each other so tightly as they made their way to one of the tequila bars that it was easy to forget something like social distancing. existed.

“Of course,” added Ms. Chapman, “next week we will all have Covid.”