Midnight Glimpse: Casa Casuarina

Every day people stroll past Casa Casuarina (1116 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach; 305-672-6604), the former home of slain designer Gianni Versace, and wonder what lies beyond the iron gates and white facade of what is now an exclusive club, spa, and hotel. On a recent weekend night, a hoard of people crowded the front of the mansion, wondering the same thing. Many of them would not find out.

A recent Saturday night marked the debut of the Indashio fall 2007 collection. The event, held in conjunction with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, brought in three girls with life-threatening conditions to partake in the fashion festivities. Much to the rabid crowd's dismay, the event was at full capacity, and no one was getting past the guards. The few stragglers who did make it in for the afterparty found themselves in an atrium exposing three ornate floors. The decor was lavish, with no shortage of statues, naked busts, pillars, or stained-glass windows. The back yard -- an oasis of lush landscaping, a mosaic pool, and white curtains -- was the perfect place to stage a fashion show.

So what else could people -- at least, the ones who can't afford Casa Casuarina's $35,000 annual membership fee -- see of the former Versace mansion? Not much. Aside from the atrium and pool area, everything else was locked or reserved for VIPs.

After the show, designer Indashio remained among the nonmembers for photo ops and congratulations. Obviously in an exalted state from the experience, he laid on the drama for the cameras. Sporting a shirt that said "Broke Celebrity," the designer lived up to the saying by acting like a swashbuckling star as he mingled, danced, and posed with the surrounding socialites. When LL Cool J's "Doin' It" played, Indashio screamed, "I love this song!" He half-danced, half-strutted down the makeshift runway, fingers pointing in the air, sweaty brow glistening in the spotlight.

 
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