“Chanel is fashion. Fashion is Chanel,” Rachel Zoe declared to InStyle the moment she made her way up the New York Public Library’s iconic 42nd street cascading outdoor staircase and into the architectural gem’s main lobby, where handsome gents who doubled as models presented guests like Zoe freshly poured glasses of champagne Thursday night. “I’m probably the number one fan, at least one of the number one fans of Chanel. I dream in Chanel. I love it.”
The occasion was, naturally, a Chanel Fine Jewelry-hosted dinner in celebration of the research institution’s upcoming 2017 permanent treasures exhibition, the reason for which a twinkly portfolio of bibliophiles and yes, Chanel super fans, gathered after dusk. “I’ve lived in New York for 10 years and I’m an avid reader and I’m so honored to be here tonight,” Rose Byrne, who co-hosted the event and dazzled in a black organza dress from the Parisian fashion house, told us as she made her first-ever visit to the library. “It’s the perfect example of fashion meeting literature, so I’m really honored. It’s just gorgeous.”
Speaking of gorgeous, Byrne proceeded to chat up 44-year-old actress Amanda Peet, who, between air kissing other guests (which included Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, Natasha Lyonne, and Dakota Fanning, to name several) revealed that her first memory of the brand dates back to her mother’s go-to perfume: Chanel No. 5.
Before finding their dinner seats, guests perused a small batch of the library’s treasures on display, which included one-of-a-kind works of art and rare books like the Gutenberg Bible, one that tickled Williams’s fancy. “I am over the moon about this event tonight,” the Girls actress, dressed in a black velvet lace Chanel top with a white leather skirt, told us, explaining why she loved the glassed historical rarities. “I like anything that has existed for a long time.”
Meanwhile, Fanning, who later sat across from Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg inside the candlelit dinner, was busy also professing her love for Chanel, calling it “the epitome of elegance and taste and class.” That timelessness permeated into the dinner room, where roughly 10 seemingly endless tables were adorned with a garden-worthy selection of white and pink peonies, roses, and, of course, Coco Chanel’s iconic camellia, several oversize versions of which were preciously stored inside glass hurricanes.
So what did the A-list guests think of Coco Chanel’s timeless fashion philosophy, “Once you’ve dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off”? Zoe didn’t exactly agree. “It’s definitely not a rule that I live by,” she told us, moving on to clutch her army of vintage Chanel jewels throughout the night.
See more of the standout moments from the dinner below.
1. ALLISON WILLIAMS
So did Williams arrive in head-to-toe Chanel? "Yes, except the toe," she hilariously revealed. "My feet are too big to be cool for Chanel apparently. These are [Christian] Louboutin," she said of her shoes.
2. dakota fanning
Fanning arrived with her "best friend" and was happy to dish on the most memorable jewel she's ever received. "My mom, for my 21st birthday, gave me a strand of pearls and it was very important to her that I have those on my 21st birthday," she told us. "My mom is very Southern and traditional and so she wanted her first daughter to have pearls on her 21st, so those are very special."
3. DAKOTA FANNING AND AMANDLA STENBERG
The youthful actresses sat across from each other and enjoyed dinner, which included a salad of green and white asparagus, chicken with marble potatoes, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. "I remember watching the movie about Coco Chanel and how classy she was and how she wore menswear and how it was such a beautiful and effortless and timeless look—that continually inspires me," Stenberg told us.
4. A TRUE BOOK LOVER
Williams, who gushed about her love of books—she attented Yale University and studied English—peered over all of the rare treatures on display, like a Gutenberg Bible.
5. ROSE BYRNE
Byrne, who by the way looks incredible just months after giving birth, reminisced on her favorite piece of jewelry, Chanel aside. "My mom bought me a beautiful vintage silver chain bracelet. It's a vintage piece. It's gorgeous," she told InStyle as she explored the library and was "captivated by the building." Her post-dinner plans? "I'm going home."
6. AN EPIC SETTING
The New York Public Library's D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman exhibition hall served as the location for the celebration, where beauties clinked together their champagne glasses and were surrounded by fresh white and pink roses, peonies, and of course, camellias.
7. rachel zoe
Zoe, who paired her frock with an assortment of gold jewels, opened up about her love of the library, too, which she's visited "many times." "I'm a New Yorker. It's like the perfect marriage. It's like we're doing something cultural and fashionable," she told us of the night.
8. ALLISON WILLIAMS AND JEMIMA KIRKE
Like many of the stars did, Kirke showed off an assortment of Chanel Fine Jewerly baubles, like a "Constellation du Lion" ring in 18k white gold, diamonds, and onyx. Before spending time with Girls co-star Williams, she revealed that the gem was in fact the most unforgettable piece of jewelry she's ever received. "This ring that I've been trusted with—that's memorable," she quipped. As for what it's worth? "I can't tell you," she said as she winked.