Will The Real ‘Goddesses’ Please Stand Up!

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Even the weather was fit for a God (or Goddess) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Benefit Gala celebrating the opening of the “Goddess” Exhibit. But the balmy temperature was not enough to stop the event’s co-chair Anna Wintour, clad in white floor length Dior Couture, from wearing a fur. Arriving fashionably ‘on time’, as is her custom, the Vogue editor, donning signature shades, used a fluffy white Mongolian lamb chubby to warm her bare shoulders. Among the others who followed suit included Candy Pratts Price, in a deep red short fur jacket that offset her long black gown; Carolina Herrera, wearing a short white ermine bolero of her own design; and Pat Field who was characteristically over the top and colorfully attired in a purple headscarf and floral dress with a vintage eccentric looking fur thrown over it.

Though the press corps was promised ‘surprises’ during the arrivals, in an address given by Harold Holzer, V.P. for Communications at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there were no great surprises except maybe the arrival of newly crowned Oscar winner (and always dapper) Adrien Brody. Mr. Brody seemed to have not one but two entrances: the first one early on in the evening, and then another one, seemingly staged later to time perfectly with the appearance of fellow Oscar winner Nicole Kidman, who happened to be one of the evening’s co-chairs. Now, that’s what I call a photo-op! Nicole was wearing a Tom Ford creation that could only be described as a true "Goddess Gown": a asymmetrical one shoulder design covered with sprinkling rhinestones to offset her shoulder length diamond waterfall earrings. Ms. Kidman did not disappoint her fans, she lived up to her reputation as one of Hollywood’s most fashionable, glamorous, and stylish stars.

By the way, speaking of surprising dual entrances, I suppose Andre Leon Tally is so ‘big’ and so grand these days (what with his upcoming CFDA Award and the launch of his book “ALT”), the - larger than life - Vogue editor required two entrances. One, with Anna Wintour at about 7:30PM, and then another, more than one hour later. If nothing else, it gave the photographers a chance to take yet another shot of his almost 7 foot frame decked out in the elegant black satin floor length robe, lined in scarlet satin, which was thrown over his black tuxedo.

Other ‘surprises’ included the strange and inexplicable appearance of three men (who arrived separately with their guests) clad in plaid wool kilts (what this Scottish signature had to do with ‘Goddess’ I have no idea), and the sighting of casual, beach-y flat sandals (well, I guess you could say they are Grecian inspired). Thick black flat sandals accessorized the feet of both Peter Beard and WWD’s Bobbi Queen who, by the way, did not look like a Queen or a Goddess in her informal and baggy tunic and pants that would have been more suitable for wearing to work at Fairchild’s midtown offices.

A nice surprise was Harper’s Bazaar’s editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey, whose signature curly and unruly locks had apparently been blow straight and pulled back in a chic chignon (a good move on her part). Speaking about hair, someone who was having a bad hair day was Donald Trump. With all this guy’s money, you would think he could work harder at finding a more attractive hair color for his thinning locks than the brassy bleached reddish shade he’s adopted.

Though not everyone looked great: (social x-ray Nan Kempner has no business wearing sheer, bare, wispy floral sleeveless dresses at her age; and fashion designer Behnaz Sarafpour would have benefited from a little makeup as well as some poundage on her very skinny frame, which was exposed in her ethereal slip top gown. But I certainly wasn’t surprised at the number of fabulously well dressed guests who took the evening’s theme very seriously. To this end, white was the standout choice, and the shade that was not only chosen by Anna Wintour, but by vintage maven Tiffany Dubin, who donned a very simple vintage Versace long jersey gown paired with a vintage gold ‘bib’ necklace and gold sandals (very chic), and Iman who selected Donna Karan’s plunge front white satin gown and accessorized it with a white flower in her hair. Speaking of flowers, a white flower (a gardenia to be exact) turned up on man of the hour Tom Ford’s lapel. When asked if people were treating him like a ‘God’, he answered that he hoped to be treated like a ‘man’.

And I also wasn’t surprised at the way in which the color red stood out on the Red Carpet, as it always does. It was hard not to spot Domenico De Sole’s wife (she wore a red and gold short draped Alexander McQueen), and you certainly could not miss true living Goddess and Diva Diana Ross, with her ‘big’ hair and alluring dramatic red gown (which she said was designed for her by Tom Ford). Well, you didn’t think she was going to wear something that would also show up on another guest, did you? Actually, I loved seeing all the brilliant shades, from apple green on Eliza Reed Bolen’s strapless draped gown designed by her step father Oscar de la Renta, to Schiaparelli pink, as in the diamante trimmed plunge-front dress, designed by Michael Korsthat that was worn by Molly Sims.

What did surprise me though, was all the black! How boring, especially those predictable and dreary black slip dresses. In a season where color is so prevalent and welcome, and especially considering the ‘Goddess’ theme, I would have thought black would not have been so prevalent. Of course, there are exceptions, and those who managed to stand out in black were Ellen Barkin; and looking every inch a movie star while accompanied by husband Ronald Perelman, the pregnant (though you couldn’t tell) Angie Harmon, in a dreamy full skirted lingerie inspired beautiful black lace Valentino couture gown. It may not have been very ‘Goddess’like but it was a welcome change from that tacky Roberto Cavalli mini corset dress she wore to another recent high profile fashion extravaganza.

Other notable exceptions were models Liya Kebede in knee length Tom Ford for YSL, Linda Evangelista in long and sexy black Dolce & Gabbana, and Karolina Kurokova in a terribly chic and simple Narciso Rodriguez floor length black gown. The celebrated model, who was on the arms of the designer, needed nothing more than her radiant smile and red lips to accessorize and enliven the frock. Which brings me to another point.

Nothing reeks havoc with one’s self-esteem more than being surrounded by gorgeous fashion models. No matter how good you think you look, it’s hard to compete with creatures like Gisele Bundchen who looked fetching in Dolce & Gabbana, and Caroline Murphy wearing elegant vintage Loris Azzarro. With their statuesque frames and perfect carriage, they are walking clothes hangers and regardless of what they wear, they stand out in a crowd and overshadow even the biggest stars. They are in fact, the stars. Of course, there are exceptions like Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron, two star beauties who may not make their money from modeling, but can easily stand their own against the best of the supermodels. Because the evening was all about the ‘Goddess’, it’s hard not to notice that it is the models who are still fashion’s true ‘Goddesses’. Just by showing up, they validate why they get paid the big bucks.

- by Marilyn Kirschner, editor-in-chief lookonline.com

Copyright © 2003 lookonline.com
All photos: Randy Brooke for lookonline.com

If you liked the above article did you read our coverage of the 2005 Oscars? It really was "The Last Word" written by our entertainment editor Diane Clehane.

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