Friday, July 11, 2014

Fashion, tech moguls mingle in Sun Valley

Busy mornings, peaceful afternoons at Allen and Co. conference

Express Staff Writer

Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co., leaves one of the lectures on Thursday morning. Photo by Willy Cook

    If you haven’t been tipped off by the blue-and-red-vested folks walking around town or the news-hungry reporters canvassing the streets, rest assured that the annual Allen and Co. conference is in full swing at Sun Valley Resort.
    On the 32nd year of the private investment group’s secretive gathering, there are no shortages of celebrity sightings and beefed-up security. With the promise of mergers and buyouts likely to follow the conference, a diverse array of media descend upon Sun Valley, hoping for a news tip.
    The mogul mania extends into Ketchum and Hailey as well—Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had dinner with N.J. Gov. Chris Christie at Enoteca restaurant in Ketchum on Wednesday night, and, as one reporter tweeted, there are more private jets than people at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey.
    Popular Austrian-themed restaurant Konditerei in Sun Valley Village was a hub of activity at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Attendees were up before 6:30 for breakfast in the Limelight Room, so they filtered in and out of the Konditerei for a pick-me-up coffee on their way to Tom Brokaw’s lecture on public service at 8:45. Reporters and photographers sat huddled near the fireplace, editing photos and updating stories. The majority of the room was taken up by attendees’ kids and hired nannies eating breakfast. John Griffin, president of investment group Blue Ridge Capital, came in with his wife, Amy, briefly chatting with photographers.  
    The meetings run from Wednesday to Saturday, with all speakers wrapping up before noon, leaving the rest of the day open for sightseeing, relaxation, fine dining and recreation. Thursday-morning conference attendees began leaving the Limelight Room close to 10 a.m. after the lecture “The Creative Mind,” moderated by journalist Charlie Rose with input from actress and model Candace Bergen, Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment, Taiwanese actor-director-singer-songwriter Leehom Wang and film producer Harvey Weinstein.
    Alice + Oliva fashion executive Stacey Bendet spoke briefly with the Idaho Mountain Express upon leaving the conference, saying the discussions were inspiring.
    “I try to live in a world of creativity,” Bendet said.
    Dressed head-to-toe in red, Bendet’s ensemble was uncharacteristic of most attendees, who opted for dressy golf-wear such as khakis and button-down shirts. Unsurprisingly, the only clothing competition Bendet faced was fashion legend Diane von Furstenberg. Furstenberg’s bright red hair was a pop of color against her black and white clothing palette. Furstenberg was wearing Google Glass of her own personal line, Made For Glass. She told reporters there were only 800 in stock. The “marriage of fashion and technology,” as von Furstenberg put it, comes in a variety of colors and retail online for $1,800.
    “It all started here two years ago when I saw Sergey [Brin, of Google] wearing them,” she said.
    Furstenberg said women were well-represented at Allen and Co., and not simply as the spouses of famous men.
    “Women are powerful,” she said.
    With reporters from Bloomberg, CNN, Fox and other national syndicates vying for conference-goers’ attention, there comes a degree of drama. Charles Gasperino, senior correspondent for Fox Business, claims he was roughed up by Allen and Co. security Thursday morning, tweeting “media [conference] closed to the media guarded by bullying and fat ex cops like I told to stop bullying my producer.” Gasperino went on the Fox show “Money Matters” with Melissa Francis Thursday afternoon to discuss the “abusive head of security” at Allen and Co.
    Eyewitnesses at the conference said Gasperino had been instructed to stay off the grounds of the resort after he allegedly breached security at a private party Wednesday evening.
Amy Busek:

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