New York City Ballet Fall Fashion Gala Dazzles

Jean Shafiroff, Peter McWhinnie, and Patricia Shiah
All photos by Lieba Nesis

The New York City Ballet (NYCB) 2022 Fall Fashion Gala celebrated its 10th Anniversary on Wednesday, September 28, with cocktails beginning at 6 PM at the David H. Koch Theater. The breaking news of the evening was Sarah Jessica Parker going AWOL despite being the only honoree and spearheading this collaboration between fashion and dance for the past ten years.

Gilbert Bolden

The trend of absentee chairs and honorees is deplorable; Parker’s colleagues, Michael Patrick King, and Scott Wittman explained Parker had suffered a devastating loss in her family. The night before, Sarah Jessica attended a “Hocus Pocus 2” premiere casting doubt on the legitimacy of her excuse – hopefully, her non-attendance wasn’t the result of exhaustion.

Harrison Ball and Zac Posen

Some of her friends were there, including Kristin Davis, Andy Cohen, Lizzie Tisch, Jill Kargman, Laverne Cox, Aerin Lauder, “Sex and the City” love interest Mikhail Baryshnikov, Zac Posen, Jordan Roth, Steven Kolb, and Claire Danes.

Diana Taylor and Steven Kolb

The electricity of the evening was palpable as attendees gathered at the $2,500 a ticket shindig for an outdoor cocktail party and lavish red carpet containing dozens of photographers disappointingly waiting to see what actresses Sarah Jessica and chair Diane Kruger (who was also not there) would wear.

Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner

There were other sartorial stars to capture, including the usually fashionable Solange Knowles, who appeared in a daring double-breasted suit that was oversized and boxy with a white pocket square and sleeve – this “Wolf of Wall Street” look was a major fashion misstep.

Billy Porter

Solange, whose sister Beyonce supposedly attended, is only the second Black woman in NYCB history to score a ballet. Her commissioned piece for the world premiere of Gianna Reisen’s “Play Time” was greeted with thunderous applause – tonight, Solange stepped out of her sister’s musical shadow.

Patricia Delgado and Justin Peck

Some other disappointments included principal dancers Ashley Bouder injuring her foot during rehearsal and being replaced by Megan Fairchild and Sara Mearns, supplanted by Unity Phelan. The evening contained some virgins of this event, including the dapper honorary chair and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Steven Kolb,

Liz Plosser, Editor of Women’s Health magazine.

Barely recognizable rapper ASAP Ferg, Olympic snowboarder Shaun White, the dynamic Queen Latifah, and sinewy editor-in-chief of Women’s Health Magazine Liz Plosser. Style stars Laverne Cox, and Billy Porter debuted demure looks while “go big or go home” attendees Jean Shafiroff, Jordan Roth, and Gilbert “Bolden” wowed.

Vi Tran and Scarlett Bae

Following a cataclysmic pandemic, the daring fashion choices of attendees were astounding; this was the New York A-list that could easily compete with the Academy Awards red carpet: ladies and gentlemen in bows, sequins, jewels, flowers, and plaid.

Renell Medrano and ASAP Ferg

The actual performance scheduled to start at 7 PM was delayed until 7:30, with lines snaked around the Lincoln Center Plaza. Attendees were greeted with a speech by chair of Board of Directors Diana Taylor, sans boyfriend Michael Bloomberg despite his daughter Georgina chairing, announcing that a record-breaking $3.4 million had been raised.


A lengthy video was presented where designers of the evening, Alejandro Gomez Palomo, Raf Simons, and Giles Deacon, were introduced, along with a history of the gala’s past collaboration between 30 designers and 18 choreographers. While relishing the outstanding fashion of the audience and dancers as a former ballet dancer, I was equally disappointed by the mediocrity of the performances.

Mazdack Rassi and Shaun White

The first Act was a paradigm of banality as Balanchine’s “Symphony in C” was excerpted with dancers Emilie Gerrity and Chun Wai Chan expertly outfitted by NYCB costume designer Marc Happel in shimmering black and white. Happel is an irreplaceable master of his trade as he quarterbacks all the costumes for the evening.

The dinner

After a brief pause, we were treated to the epic designs of Alejandro Gomez Palomo, who stole the show with jaw-dropping costumes containing more than 800,000 Swarovski crystals. Unfortunately, despite Solange Knowles’s obvious talent in composing musical scores, Gianna Reisen’s choreography and dancers India Bradley and Christina Clark were average.

Davide Riccardo, Edward Campbell, Andres Zuniga, and Trevor Wager

Another pause ensued while the audience awaited expert choreographer Justin Peck’s well-executed “Solo” premiere, which was danced underwhelmingly by Anthony Huxley, who donned corresponding lackluster attire produced by the esteemed Raf Simons-the biggest let down of the night.

With exciting intermissions no longer in the playbook of galas, another pause heralded the much ballyhooed finale-the world premiere of “Love Letter.” The captivating music of James Blake, along with choreography by Kyle Abraham and costumes by Giles Deacon, left me hopeful this would contain the knockout dancing I had been anticipating.

Mira Nadon and Chun Wai Chan

Despite breakdancing moves and man-on-man couplings galore, this modern dance ballet act performed by Harrison Ball, Jacqueline Bologna, and Naomi Corti was “much ado about nothing.” Giles Deacon’s dizzying Renaissance silhouetted costumes were more chaotic than attractive, and the dance numbers failed to awe.

At the late hour of 9:15 PM, the dancers took their bows to muted applause – the savvy audience recognized the tedious dance sequences were not the bombshells expected.

Our writer and photographer Lieba Nesis with Queen Latifah

Nonetheless, guests excitedly headed to the Second floor of the David H. Koch Theater, where the glitterati of New York enjoyed a dinner sponsored by Wells Fargo. Andy Cohen, Deborah Norville, Karl Wellner, Lesley Stahl, and hundreds of others enthusiastically fraternized amidst the lavish decor.

After a lengthy 2-year period, some remained dubious as to whether New York would maintain its reign over the world’s cultural scene – a doubt quickly quelled by the evening’s massive turnout of impeccably clad luminaries.

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Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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