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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Hautest Party of the Year

Anna Wintour’s Costume Institute Ball, the annual parade of power, beauty and celebrity, again exceeded all expectations. From the hand-painted white and blue carpet that ran up the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s steps to the 30-foot-tall topiary violet, this night was all about the extravagant details. It was hard not to gasp from both the beauty and the fragrance of what looked like 200,000 roses in white, pink and burgundy. The grand staircase was flanked by mirrored walls, in front of which the magical designer Raul Avila suspended 200 five-foot-wide red floral balls. The ceiling was lit in hot pink, to complement an enormous wall of hot pink roses. This wasn’t mere decoration: it was an art installation, which was fitting for the opening night of a retrospective of the designs of Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. Honorary chair Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of Jackie O and the former U.S. ambassador to Japan, said, “In Japan, people are walking the streets in Rei’s image, wearing amazing clothes and transcending rules. They’re inspired by the freedom she has given them to explore what’s new. In today’s world, where we each need to figure out what we believe in and stand for, this exhibition has a lot to teach us. Rei’s work is beautiful and transcends age and gender. I’m proud to call her a friend.” 

This year’s other cochairs were Katy Perry, in a dramatic red shroud by Maison Margiela that veiled her usually front-and-center décolletage, derriere and face; Pharrell Williams, in ripped jeans and black leather biker jacket by Rei; and the night’s sexiest couple, Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady. Bündchen wore a gray gown by Stella McCartney that clung to all the right bits, and Brady wore a gray dinner jacket by Tom Ford that merely flattered. The spouses kissed and stroked each other’s adorable posteriors in front of 210 members of the media. Mon Dieu!

Sean “Diddy” Combs caused a human traffic jam when he decided to lie down on the great stairs, while the photographers went wild. Madonna swigged who knows what from a canteen dangling from her Jeremy Scott camouflage dress, and Celine Dion said, “I brought my driver’s license because otherwise I would have had to start singing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ if they didn’t let me in.” Both were left cooling their stilettos until Combs finally huffed and puffed his way up the staircase.

Dinner was served on pink, red and burgundy silk cloths centered with gold vases filled with ranunculus, anemones and peonies to complement the plates printed in a blue peony pattern. The meal consisted of lobster and crab with generous scoops of caviar on top, followed by sea bass or a buttery Wagyu beef paired with fine wines and topped off with a yuzu citrus mochi concoction created by Glorious Food.

Kylie Jenner, who confessed, “I always sneak a selfie,” was among the first to break the No Social Media Rule, posting a group shot in the ladies’ room that featured her sister Kim, A$AP Rocky, Brie Larson, Paris Jackson and Lily Aldridge. “The real party was in the bathroom,” said Hailey Baldwin. “Everyone congregated in there during dinner. The boys were coming into the girl’s room and people were sneaking cigarettes.” 

Not in the bathroom taking selfies (but nevertheless having fun) were Michael Bloomberg with his two daughters, Emma and Georgina, Eddie Redmayne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Ford, Amy Fine Collins, Cara Delevingne, the Marquess and Marchioness of Douro, Larry Gagosian, Katie Holmes and Zac Posen, Hugh Jackman, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Jennifer Lopez and A-Rod, Jeff Koons, and Michael Kors, to name just a few. The show is curated by Andrew Bolton and runs through September 4.


Lunch in the Sahara

Diana Vreeland’s debonair son Frederick “Freck” Vreeland is turning 90 this June, and will celebrate by taking a trip around the world. Vreeland’s long career in the foreign service culminated in an ambassadorship to Morocco. Last month, his friend Charles Leslie gave a lunch for Vreeland at his Marrakech villa Dar El Ouarda. This magnificent landmark was built in 1650 and is situated behind pink-hued walls in the old Medina.

During lunch, Vreeland regaled friends with stories about his mother and about being on President Kennedy’s National Security Council. “I wrote the ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ line,” he admitted, adding “The president told me, ‘Your mother writes me the most fantastic letters. I’ve told my secretaries that they are the only nongovernment correspondence I want to reach my desk.’”

While in Morocco I also saw the late Yves Saint Laurent’s lover Pierre Bergé overseeing the new St. Laurent Museum that will open this October next to the famed Majorelle Garden. Thanks to the late fashion designer’s beneficence, this iconic Jacques Majorelle–designed spot has been saved in perpetuity.


Secrets of the Dakota

At a reception at their Dakota apartment cohosted by Frick director Ian Wardropper, real estate heirs and millennial philanthropists Toby and Larry Milstein revealed secrets of the building where Rosemary’s Baby was set and John Lennon was murdered. During the talk, titled “Across the Park and into the Past,” guests learned that $30,000 in cash was hidden under the floors of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s apartment by the former owner, but the co-op board refused to destroy the parquet to find it. They also learned that, as Toby put it, “Frankenstein lived in the building,” referring to the iconic Boris Karloff. Alexander and Jamie Bernstein, the children of Leonard Bernstein who had once lived in the Milstein apartment, returned to their old home for the first time and said that Lauren Bacall was a regular guest: “She lived upstairs and would come through the back stairs and just arrive right in the kitchen unannounced all the time. She was like our crazy aunt upstairs,” said Jamie.


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