PARTYING WITH PALOMA

LOS ANGELES — It started out as a way to make some quick cash in the Sixties: an 18-year-old Paloma Picasso would agree to an interview with the New York Times on the condition that her friend, John Loring, would take the photographs, for a fee of $200.
The newspaper balked at the high price for an amateur photographer, Loring amusingly recalled recently. Loring is the design director of Tiffany & Co. and a lifelong friend of the raven-haired jewelry designer. But the Times eventually relented, and the two found a facile way to make some play money in that summer of their youth.
Loring shared that story and the black-and-white snapshots, as well as several other tales, with the 600-plus members of the Costume Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They came to honor Picasso on Oct. 1 with the group’s highest accolade, the Award of Excellence.
Picasso is the first woman to receive the award from the council; previous recipients include James Galanos and Geoffrey Beene.
The afternoon event preceded an in-store reception that evening for the Henry Mancini Group at Tiffany & Co. in Beverly Hills, followed by the council’s annual gala the night after at the California Club here.
“It was the first time I dared to tell Paloma’s story with Paloma there watching. I may get beaten up if I say the right thing. She has a particular expression I don’t want to see,” teased Loring.
The honor comes as Picasso is celebrating her 20th anniversary with Tiffany & Co. Whether to go on with the trip to Los Angeles in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, she said, crossed her mind.
“In the beginning, the only thing I was worried about was whether this was the right thing to do,” said the designer. “When everyone wanted to go on, though, I, too, wanted to show my support.”
Four days later, Picasso was in Chicago being feted by the the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Arts Club of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. There she walked Gallery 37 with the city’s first lady, Maggie Daley.
She ended her tour in New York, five days later, at the “Great Whites of Tiffany” gala celebrating the “Pearls” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History. The show, featuring Tiffany archival pieces, runs through April 14.