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Chanel and The Museum of Modern Art honored Pedro Almodóvar on Tuesday night at the museum’s annual film benefit in New York, where an appropriate showing of red-carpet regulars turned out for the dinner and presentation. The museum’s 54th Street entrance was choked with onlookers who clamored for glimpses of bold-faced names like Miranda Kerr, Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker and Drew Barrymore.

“Everyone loves Pedro Almodóvar,” Karl Lagerfeld said of the undeniably impressive guest list. “He is a genius.”

This story first appeared in the November 18, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Almodóvar, for his part, was moved: “I remember when the MoMA first screened one of my movies, everything happened from that. For me, the cinema is the most important experience of my life. I’ve tried to recover the bright colors of the first movie that I saw as a child, and those first feelings I had. I bought my first camera, a Super-8, with my first salary from the telephone company where I worked as an office assistant, back in Madrid, and I just started shooting…but to have so many people here who inspire me so much, I don’t know what to say.”

Chloë Moretz, gamine in Chanel couture, was putting on her game face.

“I’m sewn into this, so I can’t go to the bathroom at any point tonight, and these shoes are definitely one size too small so I’m just sort of cringing tonight,” the young actress said.

Karen Elson was more at ease in a short sequined Roberto Cavalli number lent to her off a shoot with Steven Meisel earlier that day. (“It’s a perk,” Elson laughed.) Elena Anaya looked ladylike in a pale pink Chanel shift, and was happy to be there for Almodóvar, who directed her in “The Skin I Live In.”

“Working with Pedro is like a dream, but it’s better…because it’s a reality,” she said. “I grew up with his films, admiring him so much.”

Bruce Weber was tasked with toasting Almodóvar.

“When I was asked to come here and talk about you as a friend, I thought, God, there’s so much…Buñuel, Antonioni, you, Lana Turner, all these film references I could use, but then I thought, no,” the photographer said. “I’ll talk about our amazing bond with music. Once, in Madrid, we went to this jazz club and it was dark and smoky and all the women were in these low-cut black dresses with their hair piled up and these eyes and lips, and you know, they looked like the women from Pedro’s films. And one was singing and another came up and handed her a rose and she bit off the stem and had a mouthful of petals and she ate the rose. And I’ll never forget that and I’ll always thank you for it.”

Weber beckoned a behatted guitarist to the stage, who, he explained, was “Ian, from Cincinnati.”

“OK, so when you go out to dinner with Pedro everyone is handing him a note, the hat-check girl, the maître d’, the waiter, everyone wants to be in one of his movies, so tonight, I’m auditioning,” Weber said, before reading Jimmy Dorsey’s “I’m Glad There Is You” as the guitarist whistled and strummed along.

Leaving the theater for dinner, Lara Stone was moved. “That was cute,” the model said. “Very sweet.”

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