The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is already gearing up for its American Portrait gala on Nov. 17. Designed to raise money for the museum’s exhibitions endowment, this year’s honorees and their respective presenters will create some interesting pairings.
First up, the 2019 winners for the “Portrait of a Nation Prize” are Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold; Amazon’s Jeff Bezos; Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson; “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, former Pepsico chief executive officer Indra Nooyi, and Condé Nast’s artistic director Anna Wintour. “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King will be in for a late Sunday night as the event’s master of ceremonies.
The award-winning composer, lyricist and actor Miranda will be honored by a familiar force in the Beltway — former First Lady Michelle Obama. Bezos, who is also founder of Blue Origin, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post will pick up his award from his son Preston. “The Late Late Show” host and comedian James Corden will presumably be ribbing Vogue’s editor in chief Wintour a bit with his salute. Perhaps in keeping with how some members of the D.C. crowd are known to abide by the you-scratch-my-back mantra, Corden plays a leading role in Condé Nast’s roster. The “Carpool Karaoke” host landed British GQ’s September cover, sipping a martini with a cover line that touts his “happy hour” and, “The next big hit from the king of sing-along.” Synergy or comedy — does that really matter, when there are laughs to be had?
The three remaining members of Earth Wind & Fire will be performing during this year’s event. Grammy Award-winning music industry executive Clive Davis will honor the trio, as well as White’s late brother Maurice posthumously.
Astrophysicist and director of the National Science Foundation’s France Córdova will present to Arnold, a lauded scientist and engineer. Alberto Ibargüen, president and ceo of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will be on hand to present to Nooyi (who knows the elder Bezos from Amazon’s board). As the lineup indicates, the honorees exemplify the heights of science, the performing arts, business, fashion and media.
New York-based designer Prabal Gurung will be the honorary fashion designer, a new element, at this year’s extravaganza. He will be dressing the gala’s chairs and designing a bespoke take-away for dinner guests, a NPG spokeswoman said Tuesday. In these increasingly politicized times, Gurung nixed talks to stage his 10th anniversary runway show at Hudson Yards a few day ago. His move to Spring Studios was triggered by The Related Cos.’ Stephen Ross’ decision to host a fund-raiser for President Trump in the Hamptons last weekend. The developer is the leading force behind Hudson Yards. By bowing out of Hudson Yards, Gurung posted on Instagram that his goal was to “start a dialogue and maybe, hopefully, change some minds.”