Monday morning’s press preview for “Nan Kempner: American Chic” was very low keyed but last night’s fete was far more celebratory. About 200 New York ‘swells’ (friends of Nan, supporters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, fashion designers, fashion ‘lovers’, social fixtures, etc.) turned out to see the approximately 75 pieces of haute couture, ready to wear, and accessories, culled from the closets of the late Nan Kempner, which are now on display at the Costume Institute. The Temple of Dendur served as a dramatic setting for a glass of champagne and something chic (what else would you expect?) to nibble on, with a musical interlude providing the right mood.
Mingling in the well heeled crowd were Best Dressed List Hall of Famers (as was the late Mrs. Kempner): Amy Fine Collins (in a leggy short slip of a dress with a leopard jacket thrown over her shoulders) and Deeda Blair (clad in a beautiful black Christian LaCroix dress); colorful and fashionable individualists: Paper Magazine’s Mickey Boardman (adding a punch of color with his green sequined vest) and The Village Voice’s Lynn Yeager (doing the layered look to the max and topping it off with a chic sable cocoon jacket); fashion designers: Yeohlee Tang (clad in all black of her own design- natch!), Jackie Rogers (still looking wonderful and ageless), Lars Nilsson (he got to know Nan when he designed for Bill Blass and told me he is currently busy working on a number of ‘projects’ including some fashion); best selling authors: Dominick Dunne (who writes about murders) and Michael Gross (who writes about the beautiful, rich, and famous and who was busily surveying the scene and the crowd). FYI when I asked Michael, who used to be the fashion scribe for The New York Times if he misses the fashion business, he laughed and said, “no”! When I asked what the subject of his next book would be, he said he is working on something but swore me to secrecy.
When I spotted Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, Harold Koda, I couldn’t resist asking him if there will be a third “Closet Case” (the first one was last year’s celebration of Iris Barrel Apfel, followed by this year’s Nan Kempner exhibit). While several others at the Museum told me there are no more being planned, he confirmed that there will indeed be another installment but said it’s simply a coincidence and not an indication that this will be an annual theme. He also would not divulge whose closets the Met will next be raiding next. Or, if the person is living or deceased.