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It was exactly at 12:17 a.m. Tuesday when Beyoncé parted the room at the Top of the Standard. “Blow,” one of her songs, had just started playing.
The singer, in a veil, cut through a floor chock full of people in the direction of the DJ, Mia Moretti. With her sister Solange Knowles tagging along, she didn’t stop but for quick regal dances with the likes of Karlie Kloss and Jenna Lyons.
After she reached the other side of the room, Sarah Jessica Parker followed in her footsteps in the opposite direction. Parker swept the floor with the long train of her (literally) signature Oscar de la Renta dress, as if clearing the floor after royalty had passed through.
This was the after party, the first of the night anyway, following the Costume Institute’s gala for the “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Earlier, at The Charles Engelhard Court in the American Wing of the Met, the vibe was chicly intimate compared to past galas, with atmospheric street lanterns and a dozen or so crystal chandeliers. It felt a lot like an awards show — except that everyone looked better.
“The Oscars are so intense and you’re sitting down and it’s so long. This is like, in and out,” said Olivia Munn, a first timer to the gala who sat with Diane von Furstenberg, Selena Gomez, Jessica Alba and filmmaker David O. Russell. “Right when you’re ready for the next thing to happen, it ends, and you go on.”
Oscar de la Renta, a cochair of the night, presided at a table with several of the women he had dressed, including Taylor Swift, her BFF Kloss and Claire Danes. Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti breezed by to greet the designer; nearby, Tom Ford caught up with Stella McCartney and Rihanna.
“I think Charles James would be very pleased,” Parker, who also cochaired with Bradley Cooper and Anna Wintour, told the crowd. Cooper, in introducing the night’s musical act, took it one step further. “If Charles James made music instead of clothes,” he said, “I think it would sound like this.” And so Rosie Danvers and the Charles James Orchestra — all women in top hats and strapless black gowns — played a rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon,” which was followed by a special performance by Frank Ocean of the perfectly appropriate “Super Rich Kids.” The night raised about $12 million.
The event had a personal resonance for Ocean — he came with his mother, Katonya Breaux Riley. “It was her birthday three days ago and this was her gift, bringing her to the ball. One of them,” Ocean said later at The Standard. “She had a great time. She still is. In fact, I’m going to go check on her.”
The after party was hitting its stride by then and Ocean was in the room’s power booth, along with Beyoncé and Jay Z, Naomi Campbell, Erykah Badu and Riccardo Tisci, and around it there were descending orbits of star power. Cooper was doing the white guy shuffle by Leonardo DiCaprio, who was vaping on an e-cig. Cooper was still in his tails, DiCaprio in a leather jacket. Campbell, in full cougar mode, draped her arms around DiCaprio, flashing a big, gaudy ring. Marion Cotillard and Charlize Theron took compliments from André Balazs while Sean Penn listened patiently. Tisci gossiped with Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing. Jake Gyllenhaal huddled with his wolf pack in the farthest corner of the booth. Far from all of them, and closer to the bar, was actor and famous brother Stephen Baldwin.
At one point, someone tried to take a picture of Beyoncé as she danced with Campbell to Lil Wayne. “No pictures of Beyoncé!” said the diva’s towering bodyguard.
Ocean, who came in Givenchy, was one of the men to offer a take on creative white tie: no tails for him. Neither did Seth Meyers.
“When you’re on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and you wear tails, it looks like you’re in a sketch,” the comic said.
All over the room, besides those familiar mirrored walls and leather banquettes, guests clustered with their ball besties. Meyers and Jonathan Tisch. Sarah Silverman and British actor Michael Sheen. Kristen Wiig and Alexander Wang. Parker and Andy Cohen. Shailene Woodley danced with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Lupita Nyong’o and Anne Hathaway, just two best supporting actress Oscar winners hanging out. A solo Stavros Niarchos stuck close to Mary-Kate Olsen, her gigantic engagement ring hanging from one of her fingers, a cigarette from another. Rashida Jones and Paul Rudd greeted a just arriving Danes toward the front. “Do I want a drink?” Rudd asked. “Yes! We have to — I’ve sobered up,” Danes said. The trio was cut off by Nicole Richie and Zoë Kravitz snaking through the crowd hand-in-hand.
Just when the crowd was catching its breath, some time after one in the morning, Ocean walked out and the party was officially dead. “Drunk in Love” played, but Beyoncé wasn’t there anymore to listen to it. Theron, Penn, McCartney and Naomi Watts all got into an elevator together. It was time to go on to the next thing: Rihanna’s own after, after party at Up & Down in the West Village.
By then, almost everyone from the earlier ball and party had made their way over: Cooper, Hathaway, Kate Bosworth, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Paré, Miguel, John Legend, and designers Francisco Costa, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne and Christopher Kane. DiCaprio, still vaping, caught up with Dunst. Richie and Kravitz held court on a banquette. Tisci danced with Campbell as Ocean looked over at them. Even Baldwin made it past a tough door.
Jermaine Dupri was spinning there, and if The Standard had one diva as its unofficial soundtrack, this one belonged to its host. Rihanna’s “Pour It Up” was playing, its lyrics echoing through the dark club: “All I see is signs, All I see is dollar signs.”