Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Costume Institute Gala: Red Carpet Report

Kate Moss & Marc Jacobs (All photos Randy Brooke)

This year the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates "The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion". The exhibition runs from May 6 until August 9, 2009. As mentioned in the press release, this exhibition explores the reciprocal relationship between high fashion and evolving ideals of beauty, focusing on iconic fashion models in the latter half of the 20th century and their roles in projecting, and sometimes inspiring, the fashion of their respective eras. The exhibit is expected to showcase how these models have served as designer muses by inspiring, defining and embodying trendsof the 20th century, and contributing to how fashion eras are remembered.

Liv Tyler, Stella McCartney, Kate Hudson, Kate Bosworth

In the past years, the public interest and fascination for supermodels has waned significantly. The gala held tonight served as an interesting view of what was yesterday and how things are today. Long gone are the Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell flamboyant display of personalities that had more to do with the superstar system than anything related to the fashion world. Today, fashion and its dictates have won, and the models have become not much more than clothes hangers that let the creative spirit of fashion designers be expressed. They merely display clothes, leaving their personalities behind a common mask of unexpressive faces and languid physical stance. The British model Agnes Deyn, who has been touted as "fashion's next supermodel" is an exception. Even she stays in the recesses of public scrutiny (so far), just lending her public persona for mostly fashion related events.

Anna Wintour

The two first VIPs to step on the red carpet were Marc Jacobs (Honorary Chair) and Kate Moss (one of the three co-chairs), clad in a single shoulder asymmetrical metallic dress by Marc Jacobs with matching platform heels and a metallic turban by Stephen Jones. Following them and in all fashion splendor came Heidi Klum (who is expecting), glowing in a Gilles Mendel dress made of layered and tiered midnight blue organza. Gilles Mendel was her proud escort.

Gisele Bundchen

After this, a succession of celebrities, models and guests followed on the red carpet amid the shouting of photographers claiming their attention, and lights flashing from every direction. Among the many seen arriving and posing for photographs, some more than others attracted attention whether by their status and/or what they were wearing. The models were out in force, of course, most showing long and extremely skinny legs in very short outfits.

Heidi Klum

Cindy Crawford, along side Donatella Versace, sizzled in a plunging and fitted electric blue Versace number that featured a thigh-high slit. Victoria Beckham in a Marc Jacobs polka-dot single shoulder mini dress with a train stood confidently in sky-high pedestal ankle wrap pumps.The only fashion tragedy of that evening was that Leighton Meester wore the same shoes! Jessica Biel stepped out in Christian Louboutin's, looking radiant in a red boned-bodiced Atelier Versace Spring 2009 gown complete with ruffled train.

Justin Timberlake

Boyfriend Justin Timberlake, a co-host of the night's festivities, looked dapper in a creation from his William Rast line. Gisele Bundchen went super short in a sequined blue Versace mini and peep-toe booties to match. Tyra Banks walked the red carpet in a metallic black strapless fishtail Badgley Mischka Couture gown accessorized with the designer's jet chandelier earrings, glass stone cuff, and couture shoes. The singer Rihanna sizzled in a black tuxedo, and edgy creation from Dolce & Gabbana.

Claudia Schiffer

Almost a flashback to her wild youth and shocking ways, Madonna turned out in an outrageous ensemble complete with thigh high black stripper boots and what could be the world's largest scrunchie. It was Louis Vuitton, so that worked for the "Material Girl," but not for the rest of us. Designer Stella McCartney in a lacy pant singlet showed off some of her design muses. Kate Hudson glistened in a gold keyhole halter gown with exposed back, Liv Tyler was superb in a blue plunging number, and Kate Bosworth was magnificent in a body-hugging lace gown.

Tyra Banks with designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka

Mary-Kate Olsen wore a fantastically full vintage Christian Lacroix frock. Diane von Furstenberg was seen going up the stairs in an elegant free flowing metallic dress. The singer Ciara looked beautiful in a black and white Pucci dress created by its new director Peter Dundas. If Anna Wintour looked elegant and classy in a black and white Chanel Couture dress, her daughter Bee Schafer and her Nina Ricci dress didn't fare as well. A special mention goes to Stella McCartney whose obvious talent was well displayed that night.

Paulina Porizkova

However, in my opinion, the five best dresses of the night were the ones worn by Heidi Klum (Gilles Mendel), Marion Cotillard in a dreamy blush pink Christian Dior dress, Renée Zellweger in a fantastic forest green long dress by Carolina Herrera, Liv Tyler in a blue metallic dress by Stella McCartney, Diane Kruger in a fantastic Chanel dress of white roses.

Renée Zellweger

As for the fashion faux pas, well, there were quite a few. The one that stands out the most has to be what Helena Christiensen was wearing. She was accompanied by Zac Posen and modeled one of the fashion designer's creations that looked more like a cheap Halloween costume than anything else.

Carmen Dell'Orefice

Kohle Yohannan, guest co-curator of the exhibit says that "We'reliving in an era, where there are 14-year olds running up and down the runway and Carmen at 77 walking the same runway. We have plus-size models, we have the skinny model, we've got everything inbetween, we've got every race, every blend, every exotic type. That's great, we've come a long way and I think it's awesome to celebrate all of these women's contributions to what fashion is, because it's more than a dress. It's the woman in it as well". Maybe, Mr Yohannan, however more than ever before, the high-end of fashion only chooses very skinny and unhealthy looking models. Tonight, seeing curvier women like Cindy Crawford, Cheryl Tiegs and Carol Alt (to name a few) was a reminder that models do not need to be just clothes hangers to display fashion the best way.

A final note concerning the technical side of the event. This year, budget cuts (?) resulted in poor lighting under the tent housing the red carpet. It's was quite unfortunate, as many photographers noted.

-Muriel Geny-Triffaut

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscars 2008: 'The Last Word'

Who were the big winners and sinners at the fashion Olympics otherwise known as the Academy Awards? How did Jon Stewart do? What the hell was Ryan Seacrest thinking?

Read the definitive 'Last Word' on the subject by our entertainment editor Diane Clehane. Her entertaining and at times irreverent look at the awards is a highly personal take on what is going on through the eyes of this verteran insider.

Click here to read report

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Rose laden 35 foot high birdcage with peacocks

A bevy of the most beautiful women and accomplished men paraded on the red carpet of Metropolitan Museum for the annual black tie dinner to benefit the Museum’s Costume Institute. The gala evening celebrating the landmark exhibition, Poiret: King of Fashion, was a tour du force event successfully executed by the chairs of the event, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Nicholas Ghesquiere (Balenciaga’s creative director), Cate Blanchett and Honorary Chair, Francois-Henri Pinault (CEO of PPR, the world's third largest luxury conglomerate) in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum.

Anna Wintour, Cate Blanchett & Nicholas Gesquiere
(photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum)

This inaugural exhibition is the first major exhibition about Paul Poiret’s work in more than thirty years. In keeping with Poiret’s penchant for glamorous excess and sumptuous entertaining, the lavish gala evening launched the exhibition with a resounding exclamation point. The impressive and colorful array of guests (750) arrived at 7:00 p.m. onwards and ascended the tented red carpet of the magnificent steps of the museum. Four live peacocks (one completely white) spreading their tail feathers in an enormous birdcage spanning 30 feet tall surrounded by cascades of roses (5000 roses) greeted the guests as they entered the museum doors.

Red carpet leading to the exhibition.
(photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum)

The red carpet was an exclusive parade of movie stars, television celebrities, music business icons, power brokers, fashion designers and their muses. Since it is the biggest fashion event of the year, the women most definitely strutted in their beautiful evening gowns. Like resplendent peacocks spreading out their tail feathers into fans, the women arrived with colorful, elaborate gowns with long trains. They elegantly displayed their plumage (some of them, proudly) and they did not disappoint the numerous members of the press who were shouting out celebrity names in a surging cacophony of noise on the red carpet.

The red carpet entrance to the gala.

Red Carpet Photos by Randy Brooke:

Jean Paul Gaultier and Coco Rocha
Zac Posen and Lucy Liu
Rose McGowan
Christy Turlington
Claudia Schiffer
Hamish Bowles and Caroline Trentini
Ivanka Trump
Karl Lagerfeld
Kelly Ripa
Molly Simms
Michael Kors with Eva Mendes
Valentina Petrova
Bee Schaffer
Sandra Bullock
Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller
Jennifer Lopez
Zi Yi Zhang and Georgina Chapman
Natasha Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave
Camilla Belle
Francois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek
Donatella Versace and Hilary Swank
Naomi Campbell in Azzedine Alaia
Renee Zellweger
Angie Harmon
Jessica Simpson
Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy
Lindsey Lohan
Kirsten Dunst
Valentino and Jennifer Gardner
Cate Blanchett
The most stunning gown of the evening – Jessica Stam

(All photos copyright c Randy Brooke for Lookonline.com. Pictures may not be used without permission.)

The guests were led to the exhibition - a series of tableaux with 50 ensembles on view for the inaugural viewing and then off to the cocktails in the Museum’s Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture court where four enormous wall hangings reproducing prints by Leon Bakst (designer for Ballet Russes and one of Poiret’s influences) are displayed.

Dining room view from above.
(photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum)

Dinner started at 8:30 p.m. in the American Wing. The Engelhard Court was completely transformed into a beautiful room of color and exciting patterns designed by Poiret that were recently rediscovered in archival photographs and reinterpreted. The wall coverings, astute incorporations of Poiret’s designs, encapsulated the dining room in excitement and color.

Rose bushes and ottomans decorated in colorful fabrics divided the courtyard into a series of intimate dining areas, and the tables were covered by eye catching silk cloths that have been handpainted with Poiret’s designs. Each table had chairs covered with an array of Poiret inspired fabrics.

(photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum)

Linen napkins fashioned in the shape of roses adorned each plate. This was a most beautiful room under the stars and the ‘icing on the cake’ were seven gigantic, organically shaped, hanging silk lampshades that tied it all together. As I previewed the exhibition in the morning, I was fascinated by Poiret’s attention to detail. The dining room encompassed that spirit, and amplified that sense of ‘fun and flimsy’ in a very exciting way.

The menu was inspired by a 1928 cookbook complied by Poiret. The meal began with rosette de saumon fume aux perles noires (rosettes of salmon with caviar), accompanied by Chassagne Montrachet 2003. The entrée was escalope de veau aux morilles (scalloped veal with morels) and galette de pommes de terre aux truffes (potato galette with truffles) served with Les Forts de Latour, Millesime 1999. For desert, gateau moka and crème anglaise. Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, who won the Academy Award in March for her role in Dreamgirls performed 3 songs.

For a party held in honor of the man who liberated women from the corset, who pioneered the concept of fashion as a lifestyle, consequently establishing the blueprint of the modern fashion business, and the first designer who believed designing dresses is an art - it was indeed a beautiful night graced by an unprecedented number of luminescent celebrities. This parade of peacocks, reminiscent of Poiret’s lavish ‘One Thousand and Second Night’ befits this homage to a king. Even the Metropolitan Museum was dressed up in modern grandeur and preened to open its showy plumage. This night was the biggest party of the year - a night of unforgettable extravagance and style. Long live the King of Fashion!

-Anna Bayle

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