MAD MASQUE: It was a night on the (black-and-white) tiles at the Musée Rodin, as Dior celebrated the Surrealist collection Maria Grazia Chiuri presented earlier in the day with an extravagant masked ball.
After a rainy week in Paris, it was clear skies despite the late hour as blue skies and fluffy white clouds reminiscent of Magritte’s famous imagery were projected on the facade of the museum. On a marquee at the entrance, trompe-l’oeil views of the building had been printed. They moved gently as guests passed through “walls” to enter.
In the gardens, a life-size chessboard awaited, with a guard of honor of anthropomorphic chess pieces who, despite their best efforts, barely managed to keep their serious demeanor. Had the Queen of Hearts walked past at that moment, she might have wanted off with their heads — it would have been easy, they were already laughing them off.
Among the creatures of wit and whimsy who stepped in under the lips, ears and torsos hanging from the mirrored ceiling, some could still be recognized. Sasha Pivovarova, wore a wire frame 3-D sketch of her face; ever flamboyant, Casey Spooner looked right at home; Kris van Assche had decked himself out with elegant, blackened roses; Luka Sabbat had gone for a swipe of black across his eyes, and Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of luxury conglomerate LVMH, slipped by, almost anonymous under a black Venetian mask.
“We had a lot of fun before we even got here, as we were getting dressed, so that’s the beginning of a good party,” said Stella Tennant, who had painted blue eyes on her eyelids and wore a sleep mask as a hair band. “I had it on my flight from New York last week, and thought it was a very Balenciaga thing. If there are speeches, I’m definitely putting the mask on.”
“I love a dress-up party,” enthused photographer Ellen von Unwerth. “It’s nice to be a bit undercover, it’s like playing.”
Along one wall emblazoned with “le futur sera comestible ou ne sera pas, (the future will be edible or won’t be)” plaster arms held treats — and lo! — some of them moved. Guests snagged Champagne flutes from well-behaved slices of sky as edible clouds floated past on trays. Performers played in cages or were ensnared in sheer fabric.
“It’s not a place for boredom. You could possibly not have a conversation all night and still have a great time by being a happy observer,” said Erin O’Connor, whose tulle voilette figured the barest wisp of a cloud.
Well-accustomed to wearing the faces and lives of others, few actors donned masks. The crowd — which included Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, Monica Bellucci and “Yves Saint Laurent” actor Pierre Niney — was treated to a performance by Willow Smith, who had changed out of her plumetis skirt and rocked trousers and canvas sneakers.
“When you’re an actor, a lot of things are surreal,” mused Gemma Arterton, who had come with sister and fellow actress Hannah. Having doffed her lacy one, the British actress revealed her favorite mask was “the really happy joyful one who is happy to be at things and perform.” She will soon appear onscreen as Vita Sackville-West in “Vita and Virginia,” a biographical drama on the poet’s friendship and love affair with Virginia Woolf.
“So many people to see, it’s great to see everybody,” said Stephen Jones, who wore a silver rectangle that left his eyes visible. “Of course, I won’t recognize any of them!” The star milliner is working on a yet-unnamed exhibition at Brighton Pavilion, set for later this year and centered around celebrities and designers he has worked with through the years. “In fashion, we’re all wearing a mask of our own choice. I’m always interested in being the other person. So everything is a bit surreal in my world. That’s the way it should be. What’s real and what’s fake? I never know.” What if no else did? “Thank God [for that],” he joked.