No Blues Here

by Ben Diamond Photographed by Stephanie Berger, Paul Bruinooge and Julie Skarratt
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

It was a rhapsody in blue at the Indigo Ball, Park Avenue Armory’s annual gala last Tuesday. The evening’s set—designed, like last year, by “the fashion industry’s go-to set designer” Stefan Beckman—bathed the impressive beaux arts interior in an eerie cerulean glow. Coupled with the dissonant jazz played during cocktails, and the images of water projected on the walls, it felt much like being underwater, or at least like being in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

It was difficult during the cocktail portion to make anybody out, which perhaps enhanced the performance art, Happening-y nature of the event. In its programing, the Armory consciously emulates the great venues of the 20th century avant-garde, and so such a trippy vibe was perhaps intentional.

Honorees included Marina Kellen French, a philanthropist who’s been a strong supporter of the Armory (though her proud boast of having funded an unusually specific program granting free admission to the Met for Connecticuters under 18 drew some unexpected laughter) and the fashion designer Marc Jacobs. Jacobs was introduced by his friend and muse, the artist Rachel Feinstein, who recalled impossibly cool nights with the designer, doing things like “staying up late watching The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kempf.”

Jacobs, for his part, spoke fondly of his own experiences at the Armory, including purchasing countless pieces at the antique sales, “to my accountant’s dismay.”

The evening concluded with a performance by singer Cécile McLorin Salvant and pianist Aaron Diehl, who performed selections from Salvant’s song cycle Ogresse.

The evening raised $2.4 million, more than any gala previously. Guests included Sarah ArisonKlaus Biesenbach, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon, philanthropists Dan & Estrellita Brodsky, Carnegie Hall’s Clive Gillinson, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Director Max Hollein and President Daniel Weiss, artist Carrie Mae Weems, designer James de Givenchy, Deputy Mayor of New York Alicia Glen, FLEXN pioneer Reggie Gray, philanthropists Christine and Richard Mack, playwright Lynn Nottage, arts philanthropists Cynthia Hazen and Leon Polsky, Emily Rafferty, My Barbarian artist Alexandro Segade, Mary Wallach, Lulu Wangand television producer Yue-Sai Kan, as well as Armory board members Emma Bloomberg, Gwen NortonHélène Comfort, Tina Davis, Joan Steinberg and Deborah van Eck, among others.



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