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NEW YORK — Nary a cheetah, leopard, tiger or snakeskin print was spared Monday night as dozens of women clad in slinky animal-print dresses topped with the requisite feathers and furs made their way into the Met’s celebrity-studded fete hosted by Met director Philippe de Montebello and Roberto Cavalli. If ever there was a time for them to channel their inner animals, it was at the Costume Institute’s opening night for “Wild: Fashion Untamed.”
Funnily enough, it was the celebrity quotient that wound up being the most tame.
“Mischa Barton doesn’t look very animale to me,” said a Carlos Miele-clad Beth Blake as “The O.C.” star strolled in on the arm of producer Dino De Laurentiis wearing a pale blue satin number topped with a marabou feather.
Barton had an explanation: “I’m not a really wild person,” she said, after turning down a glass of champagne. Her endless frolics at the beach and late-night meals at Taco Bell with boyfriend Brandon Davis, not to mention their berobed appearances on the balcony of the Chateau Marmont, might indicate differently.
The other ingenues in attendance eschewed Amazonian references, as well. “Being at the Met for a fancy soiree — this is such a princess moment for me,” said the normally demure Julia Stiles, who wore a taupe Cavalli slit up to her bum.
The wildest thing Anne Hathaway could come up with was comparing herself with, evidently, her favorite celebrity. “I feel like Catherine Zeta-Jones in this,” she gushed. “Any time you can do that is pretty great.”
In the main foyer, Lenny Kravitz, wearing what he called vintage Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses and a leather jacket, waited patiently for Cavalli. His date was his 16-year-old daughter, Zoe, out on a school night. “We’re family,” Kravitz said of his relationship with the designer. “I was the first person in America to wear his stuff.” Kravitz added that Cavalli has been helping him develop his own line of clothing and home furnishings. “It’s not a celebrity line; it’s a real line.”
Upon arrival, Cavalli introduced Kravitz to Julianne Moore. “I got to know Roberto when I was making a film in Rome,” Moore explained. “He showed me so much hospitality.”
If Cavalli parties in Rome as well as he does here, he should be expecting more celebrity houseguests. The Temple of Dendor was decorated like a scene out of “Tales from the Decameron” (Cavalli, as has been reported, will be designing the costumes for an upcoming movie adaptation). The effect was actually stunning. There were cheetah-covered daybeds and sofas, animal-print projections on the walls and a massive Italian feast of a buffet with red apples, pomegranates and eggplants serving as the floral arrangements.
As Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams, Damon Dash and Rachel Roy, Margherita Missoni (who accessorized her Missoni with a Cavalli fur) and Thalía snacked on risotto and veal stew, Destiny’s Child serenaded the crowd with an a cappella version of “Opera of the Bells,” “our special little Christmas song for Roberto.”
As for Cavalli himself, he was just happy his crowd seemed to be enjoying itself. Not to mention reveling in a room filled with women wearing his racy designs. “Oh my god, I was happy to see not just models and beautiful girls in my clothes, but more normal people,” he explained. “When you see normal people wearing Cavalli, they look different.”