Museo del Barrio’s Annual Spring 2016 Gala

Museum galas are not only high profile social events; they’re the most important fundraisers on their calendars. While they traditionally bring together the worlds of entertainment, business, society, politics, the arts, and fashion, in order to raise necessary funds for the museum, it’s not often that art and fashion are the focus.

Ruben and Isabel Toledo
Photo: Laurel Marcus

But such was the case at Museo del Barrio’s 23rd annual Spring Gala 2016 which was held last evening at The Plaza Hotel. Chaired by Narciso Rodriguez (along with Chair, Board of Trustees Maria Eugenia Maury and William Haseltine) it honored the incomparably talented Cuban born duo Isabel and Ruben Toledo for their Excellence in the Arts, and M.A.C Cosmetics for their Excellence in the Arts Corporate (James Gager, Senior Vice President & Cretive Director, M.A.C Cosmetics accepted the award on their behalf).

Photo: Laurel Marcus

Among the fashion notables who served as Honorary Committee members were  Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCullough (their Proenza Schouler spring 2016 collection had an unmistakable Latin vibe), Angel Sanchez, Maria Cornejo, Monse’s Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia, shoe designer (and student of Antonio) Edmundo Castillo, Andre Leon Talley, Candy Pratts Price, Elle’s Creative Director, Alex Gonzales, Roger and Mauricio Padhila, (the brothers behind MAO Public Relations also penned a book “Antonio: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco published by Rizzoli, 2012).

Jerry Hall and Antonio Lopez

The highly spirited evening of cocktails, dinner (during which time awards were given to this year’s honorees) and dancing, had at its theme, their upcoming exhibition “Antonio Lopez” Future Funk Fashion”, which pays homage to the late Puerto Rican born fashion illustrator. The exhibition, which focuses on his daring exploration of race, gender and body through fashion, opens on June 14th and will run through November 26th. The event was emceed by August Uribe and included a “voguing” performance provided by the House of Xtravaganza. (The after party featured music from Antonio’s private collection).

Maria Eugenia Maury, & Pat Cleveland

The work of this brash, fashion forward, highly influential, bold creator (February 11, 1943 – March 17, 1987) appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Interview and The New York Times among others. His sketches and ideas are still being referenced by art directors and photographers today. He collaborated with Charles James and illustrated all his collections in the 70’s; inspired Anna Sui’s spring summer 2012 fashion collection and Marc Jacobs’ One Thousand and One Nights party.  He discovered Jerry Hall, Marisa Berenson, Grace Jones, Tina Chow, and Pat Cleveland who was there with her husband Paul van Ravenstein.

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Among the eclectic group of guests that were packed into the Plaza Hotel’s Grand Ballroom: Narciso Rodriguez, famed architect Peter Marino, performance artist Joey Arias, Edward Mapplethorpe (author and brother of Robert), actress and TV personality Debi Mazar, who was clad in Isabel Toledo, photographer Rose Hartman, FGI President Margaret Hayes, and designer (and Spanish noble) Agatha Ruiz de la Prada. Known for her exuberant use of color, her ensemble, which was finished off with a piece that resembled a floating device, prompted a fellow guest to remark, “she would be the perfect person to have on hand if there was a flood at the Plaza”.

Jean Shafiroff and Victor de Souza
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Not only was the Plaza ‘dressed’ for the occasion (décor was courtesy Susan Holland), so were the fashionable guests. Many took the theme to heart and seriously got their ‘fashion funk’ on, which lent a wonderfully moody ambience to the night. It was also hard not to notice a predominance of red, black, and white, as exemplified by philanthropist Jean Shafiroff and fashion designer Victor de Souza who arrived together. Jean wore a dramatic flame red strapless gown designed by Victor, and the Argentinian born designer (who made his debut couture collection at the American Embassy during Paris Fashion Week in October 2002) wore a black and white embroidered dinner jacket of his own creation.

Debi Mazar
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Upon leaving, each guest received a custom designed Antonio tote which contained a bottle of Isabel Toledo’s soon to be released perfume, “Pint Tutti”.And speaking of Isabel Toledo, coincidentally, her name came up in an article that appeared in the Thursday Styles section of The New York Times (“On-Trend, but Largely Forgotten”, by Christopher Petkanas). It was all about the battle for the rights to one of Coach’s best known designers, Bonnie Cashin. Dr. Stephanie Lake, a protégé and foremost scholar of Cashin’s owns her personal design archive and penned the recent monograph “Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It” published by Rizzoli. She filed an application in the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2012 to obtain the Cashin trademark. It was approved pending opposition from Coach.

Peter Marino
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

If Stephanie prevails, she said that Isabel would be among the “first designers” she would like to see “invigorate the label”. And then she posed this question to me, rhetorically, “Wouldn’t Toledo x Cashin be stunning?” She went on to say, “On a personal note, I admire the Toledos as an inseparable force.” She goes on:

 “I would love to see their approach to reinterpreting Bonnie’s house style, through Isabel’s designs and Ruben’s art”.

“Isabel, as Bonnie herself noted to me, shared her fascination with transforming geometric, even architectural forms into kinetic art for the wearer.  The significance of Bonnie’s designs illustrations, her love of storytelling, would not be lost in this pairing; they would be given a whole new life through Ruben. Their shared refusal to work within the confines of standard industry practices, and even the decision to combine their work and personal lives in one private space, is identical”.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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