In another show of camaraderie with luminaries from the top echelons of entertainment and fashion, President and First Lady Michelle Obama joined Sarah Jessica Parker and her co-host, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, to raise money and morale for Obama's last White House run.
The price for entry to the hot-ticket soirée for 50 guests, held at Parker's Manhattan home Thursday night, was definitely in haute couture territory, ringing in at $40,000 per person.
Among the first stars to come out for the event, simply named "A New York Night," were screen icon Meryl Streep and designer (and "Project Runway" fixture) Michael Kors.
By 6:50 p.m., the event was underway at Parker's townhouse on Charles Street in New York's Greenwich Village. Trombone Shorty, who performed recently at the White House, provided the musical entertainment.
Parker praised her co-headliners as she greeted guests in a black lace dress and upswept hairdo, calling Wintour "unstoppable" and the First Lady "radiant and extraordinary" before introducing Obama with a hug and a kiss, saying the group had come together that evening "hopefully, with enormous enthusiasm."
The president took stock of the last four years in his speech, noting that what had spurred him to run in 2008 was a sense that "the basic bargain that had made this country the extraordinary place it is had been betrayed, or at least misplaced."
After acknowledging the difficulties the country faced during his first term in office, he sounded some optimistic notes in his speech, giving the American people credit for a recovering economy. "Because of their resilience, we've begun to come back," he said.
Obama also pointed to his achievements in the health care arena and his commitment to investing in science and technology, according to a White House pool report.
Warning that the economy could have a big impact on the polls in November, Obama called on his supporters to "fight for it, because the American people are tired ... They're still having a tough time. And that's why this election is going to be close."
Also spotted among the guests was Bravo's Andy Cohen, who sat across from Michelle Obama at two long tables trimmed with flowers and votive candles.
As with last month's successful Obama fund-raiser at George Clooney's L.A.-area home, which raised nearly $15 million, Parker and Wintour made room for a couple civilians to join the gathering. Thursday's winner -- picked from a pool of contestants who made relatively thrifty donations of $3 or more on Obama's campaign site -- was Robin Hunt, a health care professional from Baltimore who works at Johns Hopkins Hospital and brought her mother, Elvita, as her guest.
The event was on track to raise about $2 million for the Obama Victory Fund from ticket sales, and millions more from the online sweepstakes, according to early estimates.
In anticipation of "A New York Night," Parker made her pitch to the public in a clip released June 3, calling Obama "the guy who ended the war in Iraq, the guy who says you should be able to marry anyone you want, and the guy who created 4 million new jobs," and plainly stating her case for making her plea: "Because we need him and he needs us."
For her part, Michelle Obama, who graced the cover of Vogue's March 2009 issue, didn't sweat the fashion set, telling "The Insider" on Tuesday that she was planning to dress down for the occasion. "I'm going to wear jeans and some flats," she said.
Later that evening, the president and first lady continued their "date night," as Obama put it, at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel, where some 250 guests paid $10,000 each for dinner and a performance by Mariah Carey. Newark Mayor Cory Booker and singer Alicia Keys, also rallied the crowd on Obama's behalf.
Obama also spoke at the Plaza of the challenges the economic downturn has brought Americans in recent years, and what it will mean over the next few months. "The crux of this campaign is going to be about the economy," he said.
Though the president joked that "Manhattan isn't a battleground state," he took the opportunity to knock his Republican competition for supporting tax breaks for the wealthy, like "some in this room," he said.
- Sarah Jessica Parker