There's a reason New York is known as "the city that never sleeps"—and, last night, the star-studded opening of the Renaissance Hotel in Midtown Manhattan was it. As cocktail hour approached, guests including Wyclef Jean, Chanel Iman, and Olivia Palermo, fresh off a trip to Rome with her husband, Johannes Huebl, and Valentino Garavani, filtered into the building to enjoy a respite from the hectic goings-on several stories below.
"I love the energy of the city," said Jean, before his performance with The Knocks later in the evening. "My first big break was when I was 14 years old in New York and got a summer internship to CBS Records. Musicians will always be relevant to the culture here. Instruments are important." Case in point: Throughout the night, the Fugees frontman navigated his way through each room proudly holding his guitar—a gift from fellow artist Carlos Santana.
Inside, bartenders served rum drinks with cheeky names like "Summer Lovin'" and waiters passed around trays of spring rolls, sliders, and mini grilled cheese sandwiches as designers Timo Weiland and Alan Eckstein provided the perfect sonic backdrop with hits by the Talking Heads and Jay-Z. Behind the DJ booth, there was a full-scale replica of the fashion brand's studio in the Garment District transformed into a live GIF station.
Palermo stopped by the installation for a quick schmooze with the design duo. "I'm constantly traveling—I have a favorite hotel in every country!" she said. After the sun set, the party moved downstairs, where Jean took the stage to belt out old-school hits like "Ready or Not" and "Killing Me Softly." "Growing up, I used to visit different hotels and see Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, and Billie Holiday," he told the crowd. "100 years from now, someone is going to say they saw Wyclef at the Renaissance." We'd bet on it.