Meet three of the town’s big new moneymakers: Anna Wintour, Annette de la Renta and Clarissa Bronfman. As co-chairs of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute’s big blowout Monday night, they sold out the party from the get-go and filled the place to overflowing. Maybe too overflowing. This gala has always been the Costume Institute’s big moneymaker, and the more people you can crowd in, the prettier the bottom line. But really, there comes a time to say halt, no matter who or what clamors to get in. Big is beautiful; too big is get a traffic cop. Big means success; too big means being wedged into your table, unable to move your elbows and if you can move your knees, guilty of sexual harassment.
But the three women, Anna, the queen of Vogue in barely there white satin, Annette in chic black and Clarissa in trailing white lace by Herve Leger, got the job done, and that’s what it’s all about, even though crowning them with laurel leaves for a glorious evening beautifully done is going a bit far. God knows they tried. Maybe with the one-and-only Diana Vreeland, who initiated this party, now in fashion heaven and Pat Buckley, who ran it for 17 years with great aplomb until she stepped back from the fray last year, now retired, the days when this fete was the ne plus ultra of grand gatherings have gone with the winds of change. This year’s party was supposed to be an overhaul. One has to wonder if that was such a hot idea.
Whatever, Robert Isabell, thank heaven, hasn’t changed. He is a genius at making anything he touches beautiful, and the Museum looked wonderful from the huge rose Christmas tree in the gargantuan Great Hall (donated by Robert in honor of the three lovely co-chairs) to the beautiful tables decorated with masses of roses and epergne centerpieces filled with luscious fruit. And whoever arranged the ever-changing lighting (Robert, naturally) deserves a gold medal. It cast a lovely pink light on the multitudes and hordes.
It was a test of fire for the caterers, Glorious Food. We know many of their good-looking waitpersons are actors at liberty. What they needed was acrobats at liberty, trained to leap and crawl and slither into tight spots without dropping loaded trays on various heads and laps. Le diner was tout a fait froid, even the cranberries and chestnuts. Swell, but nothing takes the place of a hot meal.
The exhibition, called Haute Couture, featured confections of silk, satin, lace, embroidery, feathers, beads and paillettes created through the years by such famous designers as Worth, Vionnet, Poiret, Chanel, Mainbocher, Lanvin, Schiaparelli, Dior, Patou, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Lacroix, CourrAges, Ungaro, Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace. The latter two, Laferfeld via Chanel, and Versace via Versace, underwrote the evening. The exhibition of fashion photographs lining the walls was spectacular. Only on view for the night, it can be seen from now on in the uptown Gagosian gallery, and it’s not to be missed.
All the famous fashion designers of today turned out for the show, such stars as Gianfranco Ferre, Valentino, Helmut Lang, Miuccia Prada, Christian Lacroix, Gucci’s Tom Ford, John Galliano (and what was that he was wearing?) Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Karl of course and Gianni of course. And the supermodels, Elle, Claudia, Christy, Linda, Naomi, Shalom Harlow, etc., who are always with us, were again with us, all looking thrillingly alluring as a true supe should. Shalom was especially fetching with her skunk-striped hair in ringlets and wearing long, black velvet out of a Victorian novel. Yasmin Ghauri in a long, garnet, skintight, low-cut beaded tube, which looked like a Versace, was one of the most exotic women in the room. Stephanie Seymour wore a belle-of-the-ball beaded pale green ballgown with a nipped-in waist. They aren’t supes, but Gwyneth Paltrow (without Brad Pitt and seated at the Armani table) Blaine Trump, Carolyne Roehm, Louise Grunwald and Coco Koppelman wore perhaps the best dresses at the party where, as usual in New York, it was a sea of black frocks, long and short. The designer hasn’t been born who can get the local fashion flock out of shrouds and into colors. The reason the six mentioned stood out was because Gwyneth was in pale green silk by Armani, Blaine Trump wore a brilliant red satin off-the-shoulder ballgown by the British designer Bellville Sassoon, Carolyne Roehm wore strapless, fire-engine-red lace, Louise wore a skintight, tiger-striped Bill Blass and Coco chose a turquoise velvet Chanel with huge alligator pins on the shoulders. You have to love a lady like that.
Mouna al-Rashid, she of the nonstop yacht and the jewels that never quit, sat at the Chanel table wearing all Chanel, what else? On one of her dainty fingers was a huge diamond rock of a ring, which she graciously passed around the table for all the women to try on and all the husbands to take note. You see, it was the largest single diamond that anyone at the table had ever seen. Darling Mouna was telling one and all about the new California house she’s building in Bel Air, where she plans to entertain the rich and skinny set.
A darling spy with a dazzling new haircut told me she was rather startled to hear supe Kate Moss asking designer Marc Jacobs on their way to the jam-packed balcony dining area, “Are there any toilets up here?” I thought they said loo in London.
As for Richard Gere, who put on big, dark sunglasses when the paparazzi attacked him, he was not with a new girlfriend. His date was Vogue’s West Coast editor, Lisa Love, who is very married. Meanwhile, British model Laura Bailey, whom Gere sees off and on, was also there, but the two had little contact, you must be dying to hear.
And this is who was there: Pat Buckley in gossamer brown lace with her husband, the erudite Bill; Punch Sulzberger, Marina Palma, Linda Wells of Allure magazine; Tommy Hilfiger, Veronica Hearst, Jimmy Galanos, Georgina Brandolini, Giancarlo Giammetti, Susan and Donald Newhouse; Denise (in a white silk evening suit by Ferre) and Prentis Cobb Hale, Diane Von Furstenberg and Barry Diller, Prince and Princess Pavlos of Greece, Anne Bass, Lynn Wyatt, Carolyn and Bill Chaney, Nan Kempner, Pat Patterson, Boaz Mazor, Ellin and Renny Saltzman, Elizabeth Saltzman, Andre Leon Talley, Nancy Kissinger, Patty and Gustavo Cisneros, Aerin Lauder, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Iris Cantor, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis, Mica Ertegun, Josie Natori, Eliza Reed, Goldie Hawn, glamorous and giggling, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Bronfman Sr., Ricky and Ralph Lauren, Kelly and Calvin Klein, Paul Wilmot, Gilles Dufour, Elizabeth and Andrew Tilberis, Jean Tailer, John Loring, the Michael Goulds, Linda and Jim Robinson, Anne and Wolfgang Flottl and hundreds of others too fashionable to mention. Say this for Anna, Annette and Clarissa: They really know how to bring out the vote.

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