The Hamptons’ ‘Modern-Day Gatsby’: Diddy’s White Party Turns 20

In 1998, Sean Combs — aka Diddy — announced his arrival in the tony enclave of East Hampton by throwing a Labor Day party at his new house on Hedges Banks Drive. What the hip-hop mogul delivered was the inaugural installment of a series of summer White Parties that eventually moved to St. Tropez and Beverly Hills. “I remember the first party he threw in the Hamptons,” Paris Hilton tells THR. “It was iconic and everyone was there.”

Explore

Explore

See latest videos, charts and news

See latest videos, charts and news

Hilton likens Diddy (now 48 and a judge on Fox’s The Four) to a “modern-day Gatsby” for how he pulled together a 1,000-person guest list and successfully imposed a strict head-to-toe white dress code. “Having an entire party all dressed in white was a stunning sight,” says Martha Stewart, a guest at the first party. “And it helps that Diddy looked very handsome in white.” (Director Catherine Hardwicke recalls wannabes being turned away for beige or black shoes.)

Related

Trending on Billboard

“The people in the Hamptons thought the first party was the end of the world,” explains Steven Gaines, author of Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons. “They were afraid of a noisy showbiz crowd and thought it was going to be an invasion, and it turned out not to be.” The last White Party went down in Beverly Hills in 2009, and despite Diddy talking late last year about a return, no 2018 date has been announced.

Diddy at his East Hampton estate with Tommy Lee. Mat Szwajkos/CP/Getty Images for CP
A view of the Beverly Hills estate (with models swinging over the pool) where Diddy teamed with Ashton Kutcher to make the party a fundraiser for Malaria No More. Marla Maples, who brought daughter Tiffany Trump that year, recalls being struck by "all these beautiful people in white. It made you feel like you kind of stepped into another dimension." Jason Merritt/Getty Images/Getty Images for Blueflame
A view of the Beverly Hills estate (with models swinging over the pool) where Diddy teamed with Ashton Kutcher to make the party a fundraiser for Malaria No More. Marla Maples, who brought daughter Tiffany Trump that year, recalls being struck by “all these beautiful people in white. It made you feel like you kind of stepped into another dimension.” Jason Merritt/Getty Images/Getty Images for Blueflame
In 2004, Diddy borrowed an original copy of the Declaration of Independence from its then-owner Norman Lear, which was displayed in a glass case. Lear tells THR that he couldn't attend but let Diddy borrow it for the voting-themed event, for which the document and security guards were helicoptered in. Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli
Diddy with his sons (from left), Christian Combs, Justin Combs and Quincy Brown. Shane Gritzinger/FilmMagic
Diddy with his sons (from left), Christian Combs, Justin Combs and Quincy Brown. Shane Gritzinger/FilmMagic
Kutcher partying in Beverly Hills. Jason Merritt/Getty Images/Getty Images for Blueflame
Kutcher partying in Beverly Hills. Jason Merritt/Getty Images/Getty Images for Blueflame
Diddy with Moby (center) and Heavy D in East Hampton. KMazur/WireImage
The 2003 bash, attended by Jay Z (left) and Andre Harrell, was dubbed the Absolut White Party. Later, Diddy incorporated his Ciroc vodka into the mix. "Puffy was always walking around with a bottle in his hands. It was Cristal, now it's Ciroc. He doesn't miss an opportunity for serious good promotion," says Stewart. Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Bad Boy Entertainment
The 2003 bash, attended by Jay Z (left) and Andre Harrell, was dubbed the Absolut White Party. Later, Diddy incorporated his Ciroc vodka into the mix. “Puffy was always walking around with a bottle in his hands. It was Cristal, now it’s Ciroc. He doesn’t miss an opportunity for serious good promotion,” says Stewart. Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Bad Boy Entertainment
Diddy partied with Hilton (center) and Kim Kardashian at Nikki Beach in St. Tropez, France. Says Hilton: "His parties are always just legendary." Jon Furniss/WireImage for MAC Cosmetics
   Mariah Carey with then-husband Nick Cannon. Jason Merritt/Getty Images/Getty Images for Blueflame
   Mariah Carey with then-husband Nick Cannon. Jason Merritt/Getty Images/Getty Images for Blueflame
From left: Howard Stern, Kelly Osbourne, Beth Ostrosky, Kim Porter and Diddy in East Hampton. Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Bad Boy Entertainment

This article originally appeared on THR.com.