Around Town: Volkswagen and MoMA Host Celebratory Dinner

Padma Lakshmi

Lucy Liu snagged the best parking spot ever on Monday, right in front of the Museum of Modern Art, where she was headed for a party. There was even a carpet for her car, so it needn’t sully its tires on the pavement!

The car itself was pretty cool, a futuristic Volkswagen XL1 concept, complete with gull wings. The auto company sponsored the dinner to celebrate its partnership with MoMA, and gave Liu a lift.

The Kung-Fu Panda 2 star gushed about the car’s spacious interior and smooth ride, and claimed that driving in New York City helps her hone her evasive driving skills.

Padma Lakshmi doesn’t own a ride now but said her first-ever car was embarrassing. “It was a rust orange used Pinto that my parents bought me for $300,” she laughed.

Jewelry designer Eddie Borgo is also carless and rents when he needs to. His first car was a much-used Honda Civic.

Gucci-clad James Franco gets around town with a driver now but said that during his very recent university days—his NYU graduation was just last week—he rode the subway to classes.

Yoko Ono actually does own her own wheels. “I think we have one Volkswagen, don’t we?” she asked her rep. Finally, a New Yorker with a car! Does Ono tool around the city in her VW, running errands? “No, I don’t drive,” she said, laughing. “Lucky me.”

Francois Nars Grace Coddington

Leelee Sobieski said she’s never driven in the city, despite having grown up here. There’s just too much going on in town for her to concentrate behind the wheel. “I get distracted. I might notice, like, a person on the street and then, you know, I don’t want to hit anyone,” the actress said. “I’m a subway girl. Subway, taxis, buses.”

If you see Sobieski on the bus, she’ll probably be wearing something from her husband Adam Kimmel’s menswear line.

“I wear his clothes all the time,” she said. “He makes beautiful cashmere sweaters and these silk cashmere T-shirts.”

She’s trying to get him to design womenswear. “There are so many women around New York, actually, that wear his clothes; I think he should do it,” she said. Kimmel hasn’t committed, but she says, he’s “curious.”

There were no fancy motors but plenty of fashionistas at the Cedar Lake Ballet studio on Tuesday when François Nars celebrated his new book, Make Up Your Mind: Express Yourself. Grace Coddington, Calvin Klein, Alexa Chung, Anna Sui, Fern Mallis, and Erin Fetherston were just some of the folks who toasted the beauty guru.

Simon Doonan, who wrote the book’s forward, called Nars an unbelievably brilliant makeup artist.

“I worship François,” he said. “I’ll never forget when he was doing the makeup on Linda Evangelista in [Barneys] ads in the early ’90s, he would paint her eyebrows on up here and then wax these out,” Doonan explained, gesturing at his face. “If I tried that I would look like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? But François has this unbelievable skill. He can do things on a face that you or I could not do on a flat piece of paper.”

“He has panache and skill and brilliance that I’ve never seen in another makeup artist,” Doonan added. “Extraordinary.”

Photos: Padma Lakshmi (top left); François Nars and Grace Coddington (bottom right)