by Brian Lipton
There may have been no tall ships in the harbor, but American retailer Brooks Brothers celebrated its own bicentennial in equally grand fashion: a star-studded concert and party for over 1,000 guests at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, April 25.

The evening began with a heartfelt speech by Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, who praised the company’s commitment to American values. He also pointed out the Brooks Brothers has dressed his famed orchestra for years, noting that it made perfect sense for America’s original retailer should team with America’s oldest art form. As he told the crowd, “audiences often say to us, you may not sound good tonight, but you sure look good.”

At the speech’s end, he presented a special trumpet to Claudio Del Vecchio, the retailer’s chairman and CEO. Del Vecchio spoke about the company’s humble beginnings in the South Street seaport area, going on to comment “we’re not good because we’re old, we’re old because we’re good.”

The hour-long concert kicked off with a performance by the Wynton Marsalis Septet, and continued with performances by a series of previously unannounced guest stars: Paul Simon, Allison Krauss, Shirley Caesar, Ledisi, Chris Thile, Jon Battiste, The Dap-Kings, Jessica Vosk, Chris Thile, Mark O’Connor, Joey Alexander and Jared Grimes. Each one brought down the house!

In addition, there were on-stage remarks by designer Zac Posen (who heads the company’s women’s wear division) and actors Geoffrey Arend (who was dressed by Brooks Brothers for his wedding) and his wife Christina Hendricks, Casey Cott, Colin Donnell, Katie Holmes, Yara Shahidi (who confessed she started buying boys’ tuxedos from Brooks when she was 10), and Tony and Emmy Award winner Courtney B. Vance.

In addition to a slew of fashion folk, guests at the event included some of Broadway’s brightest stars such as Corey Cott, Mike Doyle, Andy Karl and Laura Osnes (with stylish photographer husband Nathan Johnson), who nibbled on crab cakes and birthday cake and danced the rest of the night away.