The Parade of Peachocks

A bevy of the most beautiful women and accomplished men paraded on the red carpet of Metropolitan Museum for the annual black tie dinner to benefit the Museum’s Costume Institute. The gala evening celebrating the landmark exhibition, Poiret: King of Fashion, was a tour du force event successfully executed by the chairs of the event, Vogue’s Anna Wintour, Nicholas Ghesquiere (Balenciaga’s creative director), Cate Blanchett and Honorary Chair, Francois-Henri Pinault (CEO of PPR, the world’s third largest luxury conglomerate) in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum.

This inaugural exhibition is the first major exhibition about Paul Poiret’s work in more than thirty years. In keeping with Poiret’s penchant for glamorous excess and sumptuous entertaining, the lavish gala evening launched the exhibition with a resounding exclamation point. The impressive and colorful array of guests (750) arrived at 7:00 p.m. onwards and ascended the tented red carpet of the magnificent steps of the museum. Four live peacocks (one completely white) spreading their tail feathers in an enormous birdcage spanning 30 feet tall surrounded by cascades of roses (5000 roses) greeted the guests as they entered the museum doors.

The red carpet was an exclusive parade of movie stars, television celebrities, music business icons, power brokers, fashion designers and their muses. Since it is the biggest fashion event of the year, the women most definitely strutted in their beautiful evening gowns. Like resplendent peacocks spreading out their tail feathers into fans, the women arrived with colorful, elaborate gowns with long trains. They elegantly displayed their plumage (some of them, proudly) and they did not disappoint the numerous members of the press who were shouting out celebrity names in a surging cacophony of noise on the red carpet.

Red Carpet Photos by Randy Brooke:
Jean Paul Gaultier and Coco Rocha
Zac Posen and Lucy Liu
Rose McGowan
Christy Turlington
Claudia Schiffer
Hamish Bowles and Caroline TrentiniIvanka Trump
Karl LagerfeldKelly Ripa
Molly SimmsMichael Kors with Eva Mendes
Valentina Petrova
Bee Schaffer
Sandra Bullock
Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller
Jennifer Lopez
Zi Yi Zhang and Georgina Chapman
Natasha Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave
Camilla Belle
Francois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek
Donatella Versace and Hilary Swank
Naomi Campbell in Azzedine Alaia
Renee Zellweger
Angie Harmon
Jessica Simpson
Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy
Lindsey Lohan
Kirsten Dunst
Valentino and Jennifer Gardner
Cate Blanchett
The most stunning gown of the evening – Jessica Stam

(All photos copyright c Randy Brooke for Pictures may not be used without permission.)

The guests were led to the exhibition – a series of tableaux with 50 ensembles on view for the inaugural viewing and then off to the cocktails in the Museum’s Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture court where four enormous wall hangings reproducing prints by Leon Bakst (designer for Ballet Russes and one of Poiret’s influences) are displayed.

Dinner started at 8:30 p.m. in the American Wing. The Engelhard Court was completely transformed into a beautiful room of color and exciting patterns designed by Poiret that were recently rediscovered in archival photographs and reinterpreted. The wall coverings, astute incorporations of Poiret’s designs, encapsulated the dining room in excitement and color.

Rose bushes and ottomans decorated in colorful fabrics divided the courtyard into a series of intimate dining areas, and the tables were covered by eye catching silk cloths that have been handpainted with Poiret’s designs. Each table had chairs covered with an array of Poiret inspired fabrics.

Linen napkins fashioned in the shape of roses adorned each plate. This was a most beautiful room under the stars and the ‘icing on the cake’ were seven gigantic, organically shaped, hanging silk lampshades that tied it all together. As I previewed the exhibition in the morning, I was fascinated by Poiret’s attention to detail. The dining room encompassed that spirit, and amplified that sense of ‘fun and flimsy’ in a very exciting way.

The menu was inspired by a 1928 cookbook complied by Poiret. The meal began with rosette de saumon fume aux perles noires (rosettes of salmon with caviar), accompanied by Chassagne Montrachet 2003. The entrée was escalope de veau aux morilles (scalloped veal with morels) and galette de pommes de terre aux truffes (potato galette with truffles) served with Les Forts de Latour, Millesime 1999. For desert, gateau moka and crème anglaise. Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, who won the Academy Award in March for her role in Dreamgirls performed 3 songs.

For a party held in honor of the man who liberated women from the corset, who pioneered the concept of fashion as a lifestyle, consequently establishing the blueprint of the modern fashion business, and the first designer who believed designing dresses is an art – it was indeed a beautiful night graced by an unprecedented number of luminescent celebrities. This parade of peacocks, reminiscent of Poiret’s lavish ‘One Thousand and Second Night’ befits this homage to a king. Even the Metropolitan Museum was dressed up in modern grandeur and preened to open its showy plumage. This night was the biggest party of the year – a night of unforgettable extravagance and style. Long live the King of Fashion!

-Anna Bayle



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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