“I’m trying to prolong the summer,” Jerry Kleiner said, only half-joking, when I asked him why he chose pink and green as this year’s theme for his annual color-coded bash for beautiful people, held last Friday. “And look: It’s working,” he added, referring to the record-breaking 85-degree weather.
Anyone who knows Kleiner—probably one of the city’s most recognizable restaurateurs, whose holdings include Marche, Opera, Red Light, Carnivale, Victor Hotel, and Room 21—knows this year’s theme reflected his own personal style. He’s just about the only straight man I know who can pull off pink pants. “You wear colors to be happy in life,” he told me. “I also wanted the party to be a reflection of my most recent project.” He gestured toward the colorful light fixtures at Room 21, where I was dining with friends before the event.
Kleiner has been hosting the party for seven years, along with Adam Stevenson and Mark Brooks. I first attended about four years ago, when the event took place at Kleiner’s house, and it seemed as though invitations were incidental as long as you were wearing something in keeping with the theme (that year it was white). Kleiner has since moved the bash to his event space, the Chicago Illuminating Company, and this year, instead of the 2,600 friends, business associates, and customers he usually invites, he cut his list down by a thousand for a slightly more exclusive affair.
I knew pink and green might be tricky—Kleiner’s a stickler when it comes to enforcing his dress code—but I’m not going to lie: Finding something to wear proved pretty challenging, even for me—and I wear black almost as rarely as Kleiner does. The Guy I’m Seeing and I went to Scoop a few days before the party to pick out something—anything—to wear. “You guys are looking for something for Kleiner’s party, right?” the sales woman asked us as we sifted through the racks. “We’ve been having a hard time, too,” she said (the store is mainly carrying neutrals and purple for fall). I managed to find the shop’s sole pink-and-green garment: a sixties-inspired fuchsia and army green Diane von Furstenberg trapeze dress that was 100-percent wool. TGIS picked out a pale pink Prada button-down (on his own, I swear). Come Friday, though, I had nixed the DVF dress because I didn’t feel like sweating all night; instead I went with a Mara Hoffman printed halter dress from Jade, which, in photos, looks like a more revealing version of something Mrs. Roper might have worn on Three’s Company.
My own wardrobe challenges aside, what I like most about the party is the cross section of guests; I’m still nursing a neck cramp from all of the people-watching. Where else can you see arty 20-somethings drinking pink martinis alongside well-dressed septuagenarians and local celebs like Devin Hester (well, where else besides the Viagra Triangle)? The dread-locked Bear could barely take two steps without someone patting him on the back, including me. “You’ve been making some great plays lately,” I said with a fist pump—as if I know anything about sports. But, hey, it made him smile.
More highlights from the night:
That’s me, in my Mrs. Roper dress, with Chicago Sport and Social Club’s Jason Erkes and Chicago magazine marketing manager Carolyn Pelissero (in pink-and-green shoes) at Room 21 before the party.
Richard Foreside, a sales associate at Giorgio Armani, paired camo cargo pants with a hot-pink cardigan.
A colleague of mine from Playboy, stylist and production coordinator Maria Hagen (here with friend Edgar Bernal), wore this creative vintage number.
That’s Jerry Kleiner and girlfriend Marisa Molinaro. He’s wearing a shirt and pants by Etro; she’s wearing a Cynthia Rowley dress …
… and hot-pink Pedro Garcia pumps.
Devin Hester, who can get away with not wearing pink or green.
Photography: Courtesy of Sarah Preston