When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go To Gala

While the fabric of our government continues to get exposed as more frayed by the day, it’s at least comforting to know that there are those who still support the arts, put on a pretty dress, a suit or a tux and go out bravely to the galas no matter how tattered and ripped at the seams the political landscape presents itself.

Isaac Mizrahi
Photos: Laurel Marcus
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On the rainy Thursday night before the ticking email explosive went off, I attended the cocktail hour and performance for the second annual Works & Process Rotunda Project Gala at the Guggenheim Museum. Described thusly: Works & Process is establishing a new residency and commissioning program that invites artists to create site-specific performances for the iconic Guggenheim rotunda. This event was chaired by Isaac Mizrahi who will narrate his famed performances of the children’s classic “Peter & The Wolf” here in December.

Cocktails were held in the Peter B. Lewis Theater followed by a dance performance entitled “Dorrance Dance — New Work” by 2015 MacArthur Fellow and tap dancer extraordinaire Michelle Dorrance and “Les Bourgeois” performed by American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Daniil Simkin.

Guggenheim auditorium

“The New Yorker” described Dorrance as “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today” who will lead a large cast of dancers and musicians on February 16. Simkin will be using the latest technology as he and three dancers will perform while their movements are captured by infrared sensors and 3-D mapped visuals projected onto the surface of the rotunda. The Rotunda offers some acoustic challenges according to Dorrance who mentioned in her introduction how every little sound reverberates and echoes off of the circular space.

Jean-Paul & Sophie Agon, Jeff Koons

On Friday night I swung on over to The Plaza for a little French culture courtesy of the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FI:AF) for their annual Trophee Des Arts Gala. This year the honorees were Artist Jeff Koons who was given the Trophee des Arts for his longtime contribution to cultural life in France; Chairman and CEO of L’Oreal Jean-Paul Agon received the Pilier d’Or reserved for leading business figures, diplomats or philanthropists who have made an outstanding contribution to the French-American community. Fashion note: Marc Jacobs was a previous Trophee Des Arts winner in 2010.

James Brooks Jr., Anne Fontaine, Ari Zlotkin

Last night’s sold out dinner featured a live auction of a large variety of items such as French themed trips to the Riviera, a Queen Mary cruise as well as a walk on the Red Carpet at The Cannes Film Festival, and, bien sur, l’art de Koons.

The silent auction during the cocktail hour included many display tables of items/packages from categories such as Travel And Leisure, Art, Fashion, For The Home, Beauty & Wellness, Fine Food & Dining, Wine & Spirits as well as those For Men and For Kids.

Harley Davidson XL883N Sportster

On the dinner stage and part of the auction was Jeff Koons’ Monkey Train (Dots) Lithograph (2007) which had been sold at Sotheby’s in November of last year for $52,000; Jeff Koons Balloon Dog (Yellow), limited edition of 2,300 and his Porcelain Split-Rocker Vase, limited edition of 3,500 and valued together at $14,000 for the Bernardaud Exclusive Collection. A one-of-a-kind 2014 Harley Davidson XL883N Sportster Iron 883 Motorcycle from the Kiehl’s Since 1851 Collection was on display in the hallway; its value set as “Priceless,” however it is noted in the program that it will be sent to the winner free of charge. What if they want to ride it right out of The Plaza?

As is often the case at these black tie affairs in New York, women’s attire ran the gamut from chic gowns to cocktail dresses; white tuxedo suits and jumpsuits also seemed to be a popular choice. The style and flair that the French are known for coupled with predominantly French being spoken, lent the evening a welcoming aura of escape where one could attempt to put the current election denouement aside.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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