The Sex and the City after party at the 900 Shops

Women on top: Helen Melchior, Irene Michaels, Christie Hefner, Candace Jordan, and Leslie Hindman

No surprise here: Thanks to females showing up en masse (see Estrogen Fest 2008), Carrie’s Manolos crushed Indy’s itty bitty crystal skull this weekend at the box office.

At AMC 600 North Michigan Avenue, former Illinois Film Office director Brenda Sexton, and her business partner, Suzie Glickman, hosted a private screening of Sex and the City on Friday night…with about 250 or so of their gal pals. (Take that, Dr. Jones.) For three-and-a-half years, Sexton and Glickman, who now own Chicago Link Productions, have been hosting the much buzzed-about Girls’ Night Out at the Movies. “I get fabulous, top women together, and they, in turn, invite their friends,” she told me. “I’m a connector.”

So, how can you score a coveted invite from Sexton? You need to be “a dynamic woman who’s doing interesting things,” she says. (Read: Be a wealthy business leader or socialite.) And it helps if you know someone who’s already connected. Bold-faced names such as MK Pritzker and Chaz Ebert are regulars on Sexton’s high-profile host committee, so it only made sense that Sexton would hold a screening for a movie celebrating, well, independent and successful women.

And then there were the clothes. Though it wasn’t a required dress code, many of the women who attended Friday night’s screening looked like they were plucked from the film, donning designer frocks by the likes of Nicole Miller, Marc Jacobs, and Giambattista Valli. Among the fabulousity: Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, top doc Lauren Streicher, Ultimo owner Sara Albrecht, and CBS 2’s Shawnelle Richie, to name just a few. “I’m most like Miranda!” Sexton told me. “I’m hard-working, and the first one to leave a party. And I don’t drink.” (That definitely rules out Carrie.)

After the movie, Sexton’s group hopped over to a SATC-themed after party at 900 Shops, where women (and yes, even some men) sipped cosmos, noshed on mini-Chicago style hot dogs, and dissected the almost two-and-a-half hour homage to all things overindulgent. “The movie was sooo depressing,” a female friend of mine pointed out. “It’s not like I’m going to watch this movie again when it comes out on HBO.”

As for me, I happened to like the movie, despite its portrayals of women as materialistic label-whores, men as unreliable cheaters, and love as not the fairytale we’re brought up to believe it is. And again, the clothes! Sarah Jessica Parker alone had a reported 81 costume changes in the movie, perhaps sending a message that when love fails you, all you need is an expensive designer dress (and a handbag) to pull you out of a slump. But let’s face it: In real life, no girl would ever opt for a walk-in closet instead of a diamond engagement ring—not even a girl like Carrie Bradshaw.


Photography: COURTESY OF Mitchell Canoff