WASHINGTON -- Dressing for the White House is easy.
Dressing for a rock concert at the White House -- in this case, the Concert of the Century for VH1's Save the Music charity last Saturday -- now that amounts to a challenge.
Viacom's Sumner Redstone and Eric Clapton wore jackets and ties. B.B. King wore black tie. Rolling Stone president Jann Wenner wore a blue, wide-wale, double-breasted, corduroy jacket but no tie. Ted Kennedy wore a green sport coat with maize windowpane. GQ editor Art Cooper donned a black leather sport coat over a black turtleneck. Vogue publisher Richard Beckman wore a caramel cashmere jacket, tan micro-houndstooth sport shirt and heather trousers.
Tommy Hilfiger, who sponsored VH1's Concert of the Century -- what, VH1 never heard of Woodstock?!? -- went with a black turtleneck, blue blazer and gray flannels. It's a look Hilfiger has sported before, so even if he didn't win the sartorial stakes, he came up a winner as this VIP party fused music and fashion, Hollywood and Washington.
Hilfiger was seated next to the President in what amounted to the ultimate front-row seat. Every time the camera cut to the audience, there they were: the rock-and-roll President and the rock-and-roll designer.
'He knew every word to every song,' Hilfiger said. 'He nudged me a few times and told me about his days playing the sax, and that Al Green played at his '96 inaugural.'
Save the Music collects money and instruments and donates both to imperiled school music programs. In only two years it has dispensed about $25 million to 120,000 students, helping put music programs back in 350 schools, according to a VH1 spokeswoman.
Not only did Lenny Kravitz, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Garth Brooks, Gloria Estefan, 'N Sync, John Mellencamp, Clapton, King and Green put on a great concert for a great cause, but Hilfiger's exposure -- including multiple commercials on a broadcast that will air again at 9 p.m. Thursday -- further cemented the designer's connection to pop music. Not to gloss over the considerable altruism -- Hilfiger's sponsorship was pegged at $2.5 million -- but if the designer's job is to give the clothes personality, to make them come to life, then what better way than by dressing musicians. Tying into Save the Music not only links Hilfiger with all the pop artists who support the cause, but the VH1 event puts him in front of school-age audiences nationwide. There isn't a marketer on earth who wouldn't pay dearly for the privilege.
The nearly 1,000 guests, who included a good number of school music teachers, will probably best remember Kravitz, who wore an embroidered, red leather duster and tan jeans and opened the two-hour concert with Dylan's 'All Along the Watchtower' and 'Fly Away.'
Next best was Brooks, in black hat and shirt, who strung together 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,' 'What a Wonderful World,' 'Get Together' and 'American Pie' in a memorable medley.
And what exactly did the President wear?
Clinton sported a navy-blue jacket and pants, a midnight-blue sport shirt and black lizard cowboy boots. On her sleeve, Hillary wore her ambition, albeit discreetly on this occasion, but that, as they say, is another story.