Everyone knows Stella McCartney throws a good party, but this… this was something different. For instance, I found none other than Ringo Starr next to the underground metal section of the iconic Amoeba Music record store in Hollywood on Tuesday night at the beginning of McCartney’s latest fête for her pre-fall collection.
I don’t mean The Beatles had been miscategorized. Rather, Starr was standing right there in the flesh. What on earth was going on?
“I just got here,” Starr said. “Ask me later.”
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The inside of the enormous music store, a throwback to the days before digital, had been transformed ostensibly for the designer’s show, which featured models in playful knit cardigans, faux fur coats, and dresses printed with the sort of funny cat pictures you find all over the Internet (below). But in practice, this was more of a gathering for McCartney’s many, many famous friends, or “mates” in her words, to watch a series of mini concerts by Pink, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, and Marilyn Manson with backup by Johnny Depp. Everywhere you looked, there were celebrities and rock stars of all ages – Gwyneth Paltrow, Emilia Clarke, Mary J. Blige, Anthony Kiedis, Quincy Jones, Kim Gordon, and Jamie Hence, all standing amid the bins of discounted CDs and vinyl.
“This is super cool,” said Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey. “I just stood next to Ringo Starr. You can’t really get much cooler than that.”
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In fact, you can. Pamela Anderson walked by in a proper dress fit for a schoolmarm, a severe black number with a strong slash of white up top, her hair up in a classic chignon. Melanie Griffith was there in a sharply tailored suit. Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen chatted with Paltrow. Katy Perry, in one of McCartney’s fun print dresses and a turban (below), was kind enough to test my voice recorder, taking it from my hand before saying, “You won’t get a word of this right, because it’s so loud.”
“But I need to turn it on first,” I said.
“Stella comes from rock and roll,” Perry said. “She is a breaker of boundaries, 100 percent, and I love that she has her events in L.A. first and foremost, because not a lot of people come out to L.A., and she always has her events in off-the-beaten path kind of places.” We were here interrupted by Kate Hudson, who was filming our conversation on Snapchat. Perry gave her the bird. So that was cooler than Ringo Starr.
“I like that Stella stands for a lot of really cool things,” Perry said. “She’s a girl’s girl.”
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Shortly after 10 p.m., Pink came on to perform “You + Me” and “Open Door,” and McCartney, who had been backstage with far more famous people, rushed into the crowd to watch. I found her somewhere between the John Mayer albums and the Madonna section.
“I basically love this store,” McCartney said. “I think Amoeba is one of the coolest places on earth, and I’ve always wanted to have a party in here, so I talked them into it. We wanted to celebrate music, which has been such an important part of my life and everyone else’s life on this planet.”
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At 10:45 p.m., Wilson began a set of Beach Boys classics with “California Girls,” a song now more than 50 years old, and yet here were Hence and Gordon singing along in the crowd. By the time “Barbara Ann” came on, Hence was in full dance mode and nearly knocked the hat off of Beck, who had heretofore gone unnoticed, even though several of his albums were on sale one aisle over. And an hour later, out came Manson to perform with his unlikely friend, Depp, both of them wearing hats (a fedora for Manson and beret for Depp) as to appear incognito.
“That’s what I love about L.A.,” McCartney said. “You can come with a few of your mates and have a party in a record store.”