When a ‘ball’ is sponsored by the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), and Machine Dazzle, who once described his look as “grotesque and kind of gross,” serves as host, the last thing you expect to see are evening gowns and tiaras. FYI, Machine Dazzle will be honored with his own exhibition at the museum in the coming months. The Gala not only celebrated the museum’s 65th anniversary but welcomed the new Nanette L. Laitman Director Tim Rodgers and honored designer William Sofield.
Indeed, it was a festive, colorful, and very eclectic New York mix of fashion, art, and philanthropy. On hand were artist/artist-designer/art advisor Cheryl R. Riley, whose work is part of MAD museum’s permanent collection, and Beau McCall, known for his wearable art.
There was Fe Fendi, looking chic in a white skirt, white coat, pale blue button-down shirt, and Fendi baguette bag over her shoulders, and the museum’s star docents, Dayle Berke and Anastasia Ostaschenko, who obviously love to play by their own rules.
Fashion designer Joanna Mastroianni, who arrived with her partner, the photographer Gideon Lewin, wore a hand-beaded couture cape of her own design. Art patron Polina Proshkina looked chic in a body-hugging gold zippered black dress. Collector and museum supporter Alexandra Marshall enlivened her black ensemble with a huge diamante snake pin.
MAD’s annual fundraiser is usually held at Cipriani 42nd Street, but they utilized their iconic Columbus Circle building this year. Elissa Auther, the museum’s Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and the William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator, admitted that the switch in the venue was an enormous money saver. Still, at the same time, it happened to have worked out very well.
Approximately 300 were invited for cocktails. Guests could walk through the galleries to the accompaniment of live music and enjoy cocktails at MAD’s Luminaires lounge, made possible by Fendi, a museum supporter; Timo Weiland acted as DJ. Around 150 were seated for dinner at the museum’s top floor Robert Restaurant. It was during this time that they announced Charisse Weston as the 2021 Burke Prize Winner. Each year $50,000 is awarded to a U.S.-based multidisciplinary artist under the age of 45.
The Viennese Opera Ball, an annual white-tie charity, celebrates Austria and America’s cultural and economic relationships. Considered the most prestigious Viennese ball outside of Vienna, it usually takes place in early January, and the venue of choice is traditionally Cipriani 42nd street. One can generally expect Metropolitan Opera singers, ballet performances, a renowned orchestra, and an appearance by the West Point color guard.
No waltzes this year. The VOB has morphed into a Swing Dinner Dance held at the historic Metropolitan Club. All proceeds will benefit the special projects of Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.
Gala Chairs were Denise Rich, whose 27-year-old daughter Gabrielle died of cancer in 1996, Jean Shafiroff and Elizabeth Muhr. Junior Chairs were Emily Mohr and D. Colgate Rumbough. The evening was sponsored by the City of Vienna and Erste Group Bank AG.
Music throughout the evening was provided by the Misha Piaigorsky Trio, who kicked things off during the cocktail hour. Joining them during dinner was singer and renowned trumpet player Benny Benack III, saxophonist Sergei Avanesov, and Kennedy, who wowed the crowd with swing classics sung to rhythm and blues hits.
“We wanted to keep it small. No one from Austria was allowed to travel here because of their rules on Covid,” says Jean Shafiroff. Among the 150 who came and enjoyed a night of music, dance, and dinner- all for a good cause – were Martin Shafiroff, Norah Lawlor, Richard Johnson, Cessa Von Richtofen, Jane Rothchild, Jeffrey Bradford, Eve Brookville, David Alexander Jenkins, Michele Herbert, Lieba Nesis, Regina Kravitz, Dr. Paul Trotta, Freya Doha, Fashion Director of Daily Front Row, and designer Malan Breton who created Jean Shafiroff’s red gown.
Because I was going to both events, cocktails and the other ‘black tie,’ I decided to straddle both worlds and wear my beloved vintage YSL jacket and tuxedo pants (from Zara). I accessorized with a vintage signed brass necklace, a vintage black velvet and gold handbag, a gold tasseled rope belt tied as a necklace, a man’s cummerbund, gold earrings purchased many years ago at Century 21, and vintage YSL embroidered pumps.
Talk about mixing it up! I have to say that I received compliments from many people who swooned over the jacket and the way it was all put together. This, for me, is the best part about fashion!