Friday, May 29, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™: Summer Prints of Darkness

Cate Blanchett Cannes "Carol" premiere

While the Triple Crown of horse racing is still up for grabs (The Preakness, The Kentucky Derby and the upcoming Belmont Stakes on June 6), the three most notable red carpet events have already left the gate. You may have guessed that I'm referring to the Oscars, the Met Ball and the Cannes Film Festival. As a multi-day (11 to be exact) event in another country, Cannes is the most difficult to keep track of and to handicap. There were many winners and losers in this high fashion race however there's one particular gown that continues to haunt me like a ghost rider.

Giles Deacon F/W 2015 runway

I had previously written about Britain's Giles Deacon and his amazing line, Giles in an article where I mentioned finding one of his dresses at a consignment store, spurring me on to learn more about him.    A graduate of Central Saint Martins, he has been in business for ten years yet flies a bit under the radar as his label is somewhat elusive on this side of the pond. Giles's design references have been known to run the gamut from season to season and include inspirations as diverse as Pop Art, Goth, and Surrealism. Somehow he seems to make it all cohesive and intriguing, although I'd venture a guess that the collection inspired by Ms. Pacman probably reached a limited audience. One thing for sure: there's always an element of whimsy and surprise in his creations and they are never boring.

Solange in Giles at Met Gala

Many gowns that were seen on the Cannes red carpet came directly off of various designer's runways with little or no modifications.   Cate Blanchett's  "mesmerizingly poufy, surreally printed Giles dress" (Vanessa Friedman's article, which she wore to the "Carol" premiere (an attention getting gown for an attention-getting film) initially gave me a moment of deja-vu. I finally realized it was because I had seen the fabric before via the accordion fan-like, face-obscuring mini dress that Solange had debuted at the Met Gala.

Giles Cape

Not surprisingly Giles employed the same dark but hypnotizing fabric for several items in his F/W 2015 collection. While Solange's dress was right off the runway, Cate's was custom created having no catwalk twin although there is a long full ballet skirt teamed with a black satin jacket which could be its cousin. My favorite iteration is the full-length cape which IMO, packs a punch and shows the showstopping fabric to its best advantage.

Jean Paul Gaultier dress from Bergdorf Goodman

Here at the end of May, summer's barely out of the barn, yet the retail animal likes to gallop ahead. While many seasonal offerings are already on sale, stores are urging us to pre-order (and pre-pay) for pre-fall. One such email from Bergdorf Goodman caught my eye since it was on the subject of dark florals. While I'm not trying to rush the seasons (I've barely worn any of my light florals yet!), I do like the concept of an edgier take on floral and other prints including several dresses by Elie Saab, McQ Alexander McQueen and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Frida Kahlo

Still more flowers await those who visit the current exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden. I am looking forward to attending the Conservancy Ball on June 4th with its theme of Frida Kahlo Art. Garden. Life where they have created a replica of Kahlo's garden from Casa Azul in Coyoacan, Mexico. Carolina Herrera is the sponsor which is perfect as her spring collection was full of stylized botany and flora. Frida's oft-copied manner of dress was a fascinating mix of pattern and color with a Latin flair; a style many still aspire to emulate. I recently watched a PBS documentary about her life and times that I highly recommend,

The Two Fridas depicted the one Diego liked
and the one he didn't

It is suggested that the great love of Frida's life, her husband and fellow painter Diego Rivera (with whom she had a stormy relationship) liked to see her dressed in feminine Mexican style with long flounced skirts, colorful prints all layered together, and signature floral crown. Interestingly, over the course of their marriage they separated a few times which would result in Kahlo cropping her long hair and trading in her frocks for masculine clothing in an act of rebellion. She had favored men's suits and slacks in her youth and actually appeared to be a boy in a family photograph.

Her now famous self-portraits were a form of expressing not only her creative nature but also her extreme pain and boredom at being bed-ridden for long periods of time while her spine and broken body healed as the result of a terrible traffic accident at the age of 19. Although she continued to suffer from related medical problems until her death at 47, while she lived she truly celebrated life.

The last Frida

Her last painting was of watermelons and inscribed with the words "Viva La Vida." Though she traveled to Europe and the US fairly extensively, she always reveled in the beauty of her native land. Using her art as a surrealistic mirror to show not only what she looked like on the outside but how she felt on the inside in times of despair gave many of her paintings a visceral feel. During happier times she painted herself with her pet monkeys often in her gardens so we know that gardens were important to her.

Using Frida as inspiration, I'm trying to develop more of an interest in gardening at my weekend abode in Westchester. This is in spite of the fact that any indoor plant I've ever tried to raise has historically ended up in the garbage. On a fact finding mission I allowed myself to be dragged to a nursery where my husband enjoys filling up the car with various flowering specimens. Inquiring as to the care and feeding of an especially vibrant rose bush we were given very specific and elaborate instructions. "Wow! That one's high maintenance!" I remarked. The proprietor's response: "Yes, most beautiful things are." seems that even Mother Nature can benefit from an occasional spa treatment to unearth her true blooming potential.

- Laurel Marcus

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™ The Who Hits 50! Tour with Joan Jett

Barclays Center in Brooklyn performance
(Click image for larger view)

It's so hard to believe that rock stars are aging right along with the rest of us mere mortals, however some go into geezerdom harder than others. I cite as evidence the proliferation of fifty-year anniversary tours particularly among two of the top three British imports. It's worth noting that while the Rolling Stones called their half-century tour "50 and Counting," their slightly younger compatriots went with "The Who Hits 50!" I'm assuming that they wanted the word "hits" to reflect their chart-topping singles however it also conjures up the image of what happens when you confront the proverbial brick wall at a high speed.

The Who at Monterey Pop Festival

I visited Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a tour-de-force performance featuring Joan Jett and The Blackhearts as the opening act along with The Who on their current, as Pete Townshend so eloquently put it, "50 f#@cking years" tour. In my opinion it was worth waiting 50 years for this night! I just hope Roger Daltrey, who is recovering from recent throat surgery and can't handle pot smoke near the stage (he actually stopped a concert last week and called out someone for doing so) has not blown out his vocal chords on a couple of those screams. I guess that's why they save "Won't Get Fooled Again" with its requisite ear-splitting howl for the last song, but that was by no means the only loud guttural utterance.

Pearly King Jacket on Pete Townshend Nov. 1967

While Pete Townshend, who just celebrated turning 70 on May 19th, may not have the moves of Jagger or even the leaps of his former self, he still does a mean windmill wind-up before attacking... um I mean playing (they don't attack guitars or drums anymore for that matter) the guitar. In fact the band shows a video right before the show starts which documents the inspiration for the instrument bashing; a combined result of an Ealing Art College teacher as well as an early performance when Townshend's guitar hit the low ceiling and he decided to trash the instrument on stage afterwards to a tremendous response. The video also warns people not to smoke close to the stage for reasons already mentioned; and, thirdly and perhaps most importantly, it documents in snapshots the various stage outfits of the band over five decades.

The Kids Are Alright Album Cover

From their inception The Who was a group of "rebellious mod dandies" often dressed in the Carnaby Street-style fashions of the day. This includes highly embellished jackets often by UK company Pearly King; graphic often black & white prints; and the wearing of their adopted symbol of the RAF roundel albeit with the colors transposed. The Union Jack is also an iconic apparel trademark of the band who are seen blanketed in it for a photo used on "The Kids Are Alright" album cover. At other times Pete wore a curly lamb fur, Roger donned a velvet jacket and an ascot, but they both favored ruffled shirts at various gigs. The other original band members including legendary drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle followed suit with fairly outrageous clothing as well. As is well documented, Moon died tragically but not entirely unexpectedly at 32 in 1978 from a drug overdose and Entwistle died of a drug induced heart attack in 2002. On this current tour it's interesting to note that Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey is the drummer (he actually studied under Keith Moon) and Pete Townshend's brother Simon Townshend plays backing guitar and vocals.

Roger Daltrey at Woodstock

Unlike the Stones who, still tend to perform in showier clothing, even if some layers get peeled off particularly by Mick (as he does his patented peacock or rooster strut on the T-shaped stage), the two remaining members of The Who lean towards minimalism in their stage clothing these days. Roger Daltry has a stage uniform of an all black shirt and pants although the shirt gets progressively more unbuttoned as the night wears on but he's still ripped so that's ok! He also douses himself with a bottle of water during "Love, Reign O'er Me." Pete's attire is even more mundane, consisting of a gray t-shirt and jeans, however, he seems to have a trademark bright red pocket square hanging out of the t-shirt as part of his costume. After glimpsing a photo of him wearing a white jacket with a red pocket hankie I tried to find out whether there is any inherent symbolism in this flourish. While researching this phenomenon online I found an interview that alludes to his wearing a red scarf as a symbol of "Capitalistic Socialism." I'm pretty sure he meant it as a joke, especially as he admits to selling out in the early '80s upon writing "Eminence Front" for the TV show Miami Vice.

The Who at 1967 Monterey Pop Festival

As I mentioned, the septuagenarians don't move around the stage all that much. Roger does still retain his patented microphone swing which is impressive and of course, he maintains most registers of his voice despite repeated throat lesions. Pete tended to banter a bit between songs and he spoke of the Monterey Pop Festival which was one of the band's first major American gigs. "We were all dressed up like psychedelic Christmas trees" he said. I almost assume that he's including Jimi Hendrix who also played, and supposedly lost a bet to Townshend that determined the performance order (Hendrix had to go last.) Townshend joked that only about 25 people attended the festival but over the years he's met many more who claim to have been there. "Maybe there were more people there than we thought." The actual estimate is closer to 25,000 to 90,000! This festival paved the way for other outdoor festivals including Woodstock, which occurred two years later. At Woodstock, fringe vetements were king and everyone was a subject.

Joan Jett

Joan Jett, recent inductee to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, wore her signature sparkly onesie/jumpsuit which was initially covered by her oft-worn black lace-up sleeve jacket (hers may have been leather but there's a similar one in a twill fabric for her Hot Topic/Tripp NYC collaboration (see here) but that was quickly removed once she got rock and rolling. Last night's sleeveless coverall seemed to be made of a red glitter neoprene or stretch fabric. I've seen her wear a gold lurex striped version as well as an all black wet-look or patent shiny one. She was sporting her characteristic cat-eyeliner, no-blush makeup; her spiky hair style has not changed much. At 56 she is holding up well with excellent arm definition and very little wiggle-waggle, although I'm starting to think that despite one's best efforts, gravity eventually takes over.

I definitely recommend catching at least one of their shows if possible. You can't beat the entertainment value of Pete crooning the once arch lyrics of "My Generation" ("Hope I die before I get old") un-ironically. As far as material covered, Pete says they would have to play for over four hours to hit every one of their most popular songs, so at two hours and twenty minutes, not all of them are revisited. Most obvious is the absence of "Tommy" although they perform "Pinball Wizard" and a whole interlude of the rock opera. I would have liked to have heard "Substitute" and "Magic Bus" (both played at other venues along the tour) but that's just the luck of the draw. I strongly suspect that this is the band's last time at the rodeo, as Roger Daltrey spoke of how it gets harder to sing every day. Pete Townshend uncharacteristically thanked the audience several times for coming out to see them over the years which is also suspect. It seems that the Glimmer Twins of Mick and Keith, who just kicked off their 15-city "Zip Code Tour", (Buffalo is as close as they're getting to NYC) may well win the war of attrition of the original British Triumvirate.

- Laurel Marcus

Monday, May 25, 2015

In the Market Report:

Exotic, Indian Inspired Bags for Summer

Figue in Easthampton

Yay! So, summer has now unofficially arrived. Whether you are here in the city, at the beach, in the country, or far away (perhaps at some fabulously exotic locale), this time of the year is really all about loosening up, having fun, relaxing, and adding a bit of fun and whimsy (to one’s daily routine, AND one’s daily uniform). There is perhaps no easier way to do this, than by simply changing one’s bag. I don’t know about you, but all of a sudden for me, a leather bag, (as chic or handsome as it may be), seems just a tad too serious at times, and I find myself drawn to those things that are a bit more eccentric, colorful, and freewheeling.

Stephanie Von Watzdorf carrying her Tuk Tuk Tote

Enter Figue (, a “travel inspired artisan-centric luxury collection with a global gypsy-meets-jet-set spirit". Geared for “women who travel, or dream of traveling to exotic locations”, it was founded in 2013, by former Tory Burch design director Stephanie von Watzdorf. A Parsons grad who was awarded the Golden Thimble award by Calvin Klein, Stephanie has an impressive resume that includes stints at Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Ann Taylor, and Ralph Lauren. In 2004, she joined Tory Burch where she worked in design development and ready to wear accessories until 2011.

In addition to ‘core items’ such as tunics, kaftans, shirtings, dresses, denim, and one of a kind, embellished, reclaimed military jackets, Figue sells jewelry and bags, and their elaborate, intricate, Indian inspired Tuk Tuk totes (with hand stitched leather handles, cotton twill lining with interior zip pocket and optional drawstring closure) are truly sensational and collectible, if not highly addictive.

I have been sort of obsessed with them ever since I saw a picture of their first one several years ago (it reminded me of a few vintage bags I happen to own), and I’ve been a pretty faithful customer since then. Happily, each season, they add new versions (different colors and embellishments). I have to say that they are really all so fabulous (and quite different), I have a hard time deciding which one to buy, and I have to stop myself from buying them all LOL. They are not only practical (the medium and large sizes are extremely roomy and in the case of the latter, can function as a weekend bag), but are real look changers. And the best part is that whenever I carry one, even if I’m here in New York, I feel as though I’m on vacation, somewhere far far away.

These are their current offerings, which are available online and in their stores, in New York and Easthampton (268 Elizabeth Street, 212 380 7970; 55 Main Street, 631 527 5111):

The multi Tuk Tuk tote with Indian inspired navy and ivory jacquard fabric, multi colored pom poms and tassels, finished with ivory beading, white leather accents and silver accented mirrors (the medium size is $595 and large is $695).

The navy Tuk Tuk tote (it has a somewhat nautical feeling) features navy and ivory jacquard Indian inspired fabric, navy pom poms and tassels, navy beading and gold accented mirrors (the medium is $595 and large is $695).

The red Tuk Tuk tote features red pom poms, white tassels, beading, gold coins and mirror (the medium is $595 and the large is $695).

The black Tuk Tuk tote has black pomp oms, beading, gold coins and mirrors (medium size is $495; large is $595).

The one that is perhaps the most different is the Evil Eye Tuk Tuk tote which features black and white pom poms, gold coins, mirrors, and protective evil eye at center ($395 for small cross body style; $495 for the medium size, $595 for large).

FYI, they are offering 30% off through Memorial Day weekend. Betcha can’t buy just one!

- Marilyn Kirschner

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™: Book Review

  Models of Influence: Fifty Women Who Reset the Course of Fashion

                       Click here to buy: Models of Influence

Leafing through Nigel Barker's bestseller "Models of Influence" I am transported back to my high school days, reliving my obsession with fashion (which I obviously still retain) and with fashion models of that era. When I got the email from Intermix in the Meatpacking District inviting me to come meet fashion photographer Nigel of America's Next Top Model and The Face fame, purchase his book and peruse the Gap-owned store for fashion how could I possibly refuse.

Nigel Barker

Arriving "fashionably late" I expected to see Nigel at a table signing books with a long line of giddy females before him. Instead, glimpsing his strong profile through the glass storefront, I see that he is standing tall as ever (he may have two kids but definitely no Dad Bod here!) and talking to another gentlemen while a photographer intermittently snapped away. I was greeted with the ever present prosecco which seems to be de rigueur at these events, not to mention the ubiquitous macarons butlered on a silver tray. Partaking of the former and eschewing the latter, I awkwardly mentioned to Nigel that I loved the photo of him and his wife taken last night at the American Ballet Theatre Spring Gala which I had seen on both Patrick McMullan's site as well as Nigel's Facebook. He and #TheWife aka Crissy were photographed in their formal best (she in a blush colored lacy Pamella Roland gown) as he playfully and elegantly dipped her complete with a smooch in an elegant little pas de deux in the Plaza of Lincoln Center.  He called the event "a very New York evening."

Nigel Barker and a fan

I asked Barker what prompted him to write and compile the tome, a fascinating read profiling fifty of the most noteworthy models from the 1940's to the present. "I wanted to honor and celebrate the impact that these models had brought to the world through their photos including those I had not photographed as well as those I had" he said. To that end the book features 110 full-color and black & white photographs capturing each model in a few of her most iconic poses. He also stressed the idea that all successful models have a personality; that these women would not have attained legendary status without a message that came directly at the viewer through their photographs.

Even in the days before social media, fashion magazine readers were interested in knowing about their favorite models and many models had quite interesting backgrounds. For instance, did you know that Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn was a sculptor or that Dorian Leigh had two children, earned an engineering degree in night school, helped design airplane wings for Eastern Airlines and served as a copywriter for Republic Pictures, all before she even started modeling? You can read more about each model's background, what happened to her later in life (if applicable) and learn some intriguing facts in the pages of this book. Barker shows how the popularity of what was looked for in a model mirrored what was happening socially and politically in the world during each decade starting with the post-World War II era "when fashion and fashion photography were reborn out of the ashes of the war." He highlights all of the iconic photographers as well as their muses from Irving Penn and Richard Avedon to Francesco Scavullo, Terry Richardson, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Gilles Bensimon, Bruce Weber to name a few.

As for his own past, Barker practically didn't have a choice when it came to modeling as it was in his blood. He was raised by a former model who almost became Miss Sri Lanka in 1960 at seventeen however being biracial (half English, half Sri Lankan) halted her claiming the prize. She became a successful model in spite of this as did Nigel who was discovered in a televised modeling search called "The Clothes Show." Thinking he was bound for premed studies at Guy's Hospital in Central London, he decided to take a year's sabbatical before starting school to try his luck at modeling and seeing the world. As we now know, his modeling career introduced him to a "small but international community of fashion" where he felt that he fit in and he did not want to leave to go back to school. He later made the transition from modeling (when skinny boys came into vogue) to photography in the early '90s, followed by that of television host first on ANTM with Tyra Banks (both she and co-host Twiggy are featured as well as Naomi Campbell however Heidi Klum only rates a photo with other Angels during a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show) and later with "The Face."

Coco Rocha photo by Nigel Barker

In the course of speaking to Nigel I mentioned having heard Coco Rocha expound on her social media presence recently at the Fashion Law Institute seminar and he agreed that she was definitely one to watch in that arena. I later noticed that she is one of the models that he profiled, even using a photo that he took of her himself.

Intermix Store on Washington Street

As for the shopping aspect of the evening, besides the book I bought a polka dot top on sale. As 10% of the proceeds were to benefit UN Women's HeForShe, I'm afraid I didn't do much for gender equality.  Sorry Emma Watson who promotes the cause as well, but everything else I tried on was either ridiculously cut-out, impossible to put on/figure out (Note to clothing designers: I shouldn't need a diagram just to get dressed), or the wrong size. If you do end up at Intermix in the MPD make sure you ask for Emily who even remembered me from a shopping expedition there one year ago! As I walked down the street by the Highline I took a photo of the newly minted Whitney Museum, vowing to hit it up soon before the wonderful first light of summer has gone.

- Laurel Marcus

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

American Ballet Theatre Diamond Jubilee Spring Gala

Ballet finale
(All photos Lieba Nesis)

The American Ballet Theatre held its 75th Anniversary Gala at the Metropolitan Opera House to a sold out audience. This event has been on the calendar of every socialite from New York to California for the past six months with the elite of the country waiting for this exciting happening. This evening surpassed even the most jaded New Yorker's expectations with a Who's Who of New York society attending to show their appreciation and adoration for this incredible Company.  Kevin McKenzie, the Artistic Director of ABT, continues to dazzle with his jaw-dropping sets and costumes and this evening he outdid himself.

Amy Fine Collins and Hamish Bowles

The astounding guest list exceeded expectations including socialites: David and Julia Koch, Amy Fine Collins, Kelly Rutherford, Christine Schwarzman, Di Mondo, Fe Fendi, Alexandra Lebenthal, Blaine Trump, Jean and Martin Shafiroff, Gillian and Sylvester Miniter, Emily Blavatnik, Muffie Aston, Leslie Ziff, Julie Macklowe and hundreds more. There were also fashion heavyweights Hamish Bowles, Giovanna Battaglia, Cameron Silver, Peter Copping, Zang Toi, Jessica Stam and Anh Duong sprinkled amongst the glitterati.

Giovanna Battaglia in Herrera & Anh Duong in Alta Moda

The sponsor of the event, Escada, dressed many of the evening's guests including Christine Schwarzman, Jessica Stam and Kelly Rutherford, but unfortunately only distributed free Escada stationery at the conclusion of the evening. There were so many luminaries lining the lobby of the Metropolitan House the normally punctual ballet started 15 minutes late.

Jean Shafiroff, Zang Toi, and Julie Macklowe all wearing Zang Toi

This Gala is my favorite of the year as it contains vignettes of upcoming ballets as well as the creation of new dances produced especially for the evening.  This is the only event my father agrees to leave his desk for, and this year he appeared in a suit and tie awaiting the excitement of the night (although I wish he had not eaten garlic 10 minutes before), which he had joyfully witnessed one year before.

Laura Nicklas Mary Snow Despina Yarian
and Susan Fales Hill

This year our third row seats allowed me to view every muscle protruding from the dancers bodies-and I must say some of the male "muscles" were larger than others. The intensity of the dancers emotions, which I was able to closely witness, left me invigorated; the importance of a front row seat in a highly interactive discipline such as the ballet (last year we were in the last row) should not be underestimated.

Kelly Rutherford and Di Mondo

This evening was all about the history of ABT with numerous short films shown while Sigourney Weaver, Joel Grey, Kevin McKenzie and Susan Jaffe appeared on stage to recount the history of the American Ballet Theatre. Choreographers Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins, Antony Tudor, Alexei Ratmansky, Natalia Makarova, Twyla Tharp and George Balanchine were paid tribute to and their ballets were performed by the current ABT dancers. When former ballerina Susan Jaffe showed clips of Baryshnikov dancing with ABT, later becoming its artistic director, the audience burst into applause- Baryshnikov's jumps and turns were gravity-defying.

Christine Schwarzman, Kalliope Rena, and Fe Fendi

The other choreographed pieces included cowboys, sailors, slaves, and swans, all with costumes and sets executed to perfection-leading me to worry as to how the ballet would afford the extravagance of this extravaganza despite the fact that this evening raised 2.3 million dollars. One vignette even inadvertently paid homage to Bruce Jenner with male dancer Daniil Simkin wearing a white tutu and headdress in a scheme to trick his companion during the Russian Revolution in a piece called "The Bright Stream." A man in drag is about as modern as dance can get and it was a great tongue-in-cheek moment. Simkin astounded the audience throughout the night with his jumps, pirouettes and larger than life stage presence and received thunderous applause in the finale.

Dancer Diana Vishneva

However, my favorite sequence of the evening, which had much of the crowd in tears, was "Manon" which was performed exquisitely by Julie Kent, who will soon be retiring, and Marcelo Gomes. The utter romanticism and beauty of this piece was haunting and otherworldly. McKenzie did not miss a trick, performing classics "Giselle," "Swan Lake," "La Sylphide," and "Don Quixote"-staples of the ballet and definite crowd pleasers.

Principal dancer Marcelo Gomes at the dinner

This evening, which also celebrated the Jacqueline Kennedy School of Ballet's 10th year Anniversary, saved the students' incredible performance for the latter portion of the evening, with ebullient teenagers in multicolored leotards and a starry backdrop dancing with unbridled enthusiasm. The finale of the Ballet included retired dancers and choreographers as well as current principals arriving on stage with confetti streaming down on these incredible performers. However, the fun had just begun with dancers and well-heeled guests making their way into the tents nearby.

The dinner

The dining room was the most elegant I have ever seen, with silver tablecloths, pink and white flowers and crystal chandeliers adorning each table.  There were so many beautiful "swans" wearing Oscar de la Renta, Roland Mouret, Chanel, Valentino and Zang Toi, it was dizzying. The actress Jennifer Tilly flew in from Los Angeles for the occasion and looked voluptuously divine in a lilac Monique Lhuillier gown.

Jennifer Tilly, chair Sutton Stracke and Star Jones

Tilly said her favorite designer was Dolce and Gabbana because their dresses are "good for all shapes and sizes." Tilly wishes she could be skinny like the rest of Los Angeles, and told me she went from movies to Broadway because she finds New Yorkers and the stage more forgiving to full-figured women-especially since the screen adds on 15-20 pounds. Tilly's intelligence and candor were refreshing, expressing an appreciation of the ballet's film footage and historical perspective-a sentiment mirrored by many of the dinner attendees.

Ladies dancing

Overall the gala was a smash success with socialites enthusiastically dancing to the tunes of the ten-piece band and snapping photos of each other. Kevin McKenzie, who earlier in the evening spoke of the more than 466 works that have been performed by over 1212 of the world's finest dancers, managed the most incredible feat of all - getting my father to ask if I could purchase a ticket for next year's spectacular show.

- Lieba Nesis

Saturday, May 16, 2015

In the Market Report: El Museo del Barrio’s Spring Gala

Click images for larger views
Photos: Max Lakner

El Museo del Barrio held its most important fundraiser of the year, their annual Spring Gala, on Thursday, May 14th at The Plaza Hotel. El Museo board member Yolanda Santos received the Joseph A. Unanue Trustee Leadership Award; Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Time Warner Inc., Lisa Garcia Quiroz, were honored with the Corporate Excellence in the Arts Awards; and Founder and President of Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, Eugenio López Alonso, was presented with the Excellence in the Arts Award. The three silver awards were generously donated by Christofle. The sold out gala raised $1 million dollars.

The Young Gala Committee Chairs included Jamie Diamond, Karla Farach de Athanasopoulos, Jessica Garza-Bueron, Karina Palma, Jana Pasquel de Shapiro, and Leticia Pittman Presutti.

Ike Ude, Maria Eugenia Maury

The Honorary Committee included Pedro Almodóvar, Miguel Bosé, Maria Cornejo, Ambassador Sandra Fuentes (Consul General of Mexico), Erika Harrsch, Magos Herrera, Ambassador and Mrs. Jorge Montaño  (Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations), Dascha Polanco, Candy Pratts Price, Narciso Rodriguez, Andres Serrano, Maricruz and Ray Smith, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and Iké Udé.

Luis Medina Abascal, Maria Eugenia Maury, Bill Haseltine,
& Rodner Figueroa

Guests attending included Luis Medina Abascal  (Grandee of Spain, and brand ambassador for Dolce Gabbana), Tony Bechara, Barbara Berger (Jeweler), Violaine and John Bernbach, Maria Cornejo, Laura and John Desmarais, Valdislav Dornin, Jacqueline Weld Drake, Anita Durst, Ambassador Sandra Fuentes (Consul General of Mexico), Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos and Paul Kanavos, Ambassador Jorge Montaño (Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations),

Jean Shafiroff

Enrique Norten, Council Member Annabel Palma, Florence Peyrelongue, Congressman Pedro Pierluisi, Dascha Polanco (Orange Is The New Black), Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, Rodolfo de Rothschild, Julian Schnabel, Andrew Solomon, Maurice Sonnenberg, Andres Serrano, Jean Shafiroff, Jana Pasquel and Adam Shapiro, Maricruz and Ray Smith, Daisy Soros, Deputy Commissioner Edwin Torres, Adrienne and Gianluigi Vittadini, Carmen Ana Unanue, and many more.

The evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing (to the music of Avendia B, and a multidisciplinary performance by Erika Harrsch in collaboration with Mexican jazz singer Magos Herrera) had a black and white cinematic theme, inspired by the museum’s current exhibition, “Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa- Art and Film”, which celebrates the highly distinctive work of famed Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (1907 – 1997). Not only was the Plaza ‘dressed’ for the occasion (Jeronimo Gaxiola designed the event), but so were the guests, and it lent a wonderfully moody ambience to the night.

Evelyn Gutierrez Subramaniam

The women were asked to dress in black and white with gloves and veils, and let me tell you, most of them went to great lengths to take this directive seriously (so much so that one could have called this gala, “The Dance of the 700 Veils”). The official milliner of the event was Patricia Underwood and last month, (at a gala kickoff party held at the UN Plaza apartment of El Museo’s Gala Chairs Maria Eugenia Maury and husband William Haseltine attended by 100 guests), she was on hand, with a selection of her veils, and guests were able to purchase and/or design their own. Patricia designed a special veil for actress Dascha Polanco, whose gown was by Badgley Mischka. But hers were not the only veils.

Barbara Berger

Jeweler Barbara Berger wore a fantastical veiled floral headpiece to compliment her divine black and white vintage Oscar de la Renta gown; Maria Eugenia Maury accessorized her Giorgio Armani black label black satin evening gown with a Prive black fishnet mantilla with giant black patent paillettes; and several women admitted they created their own veiled headpieces.

Dipak Shah

And let’s not forget about the guys. They normally dress in black and white attire for evening soirees, and served as perfect compliments to the ladies, and a few even got a bit creative with the theme. Brett Gallaway wore a printed black and white bow tie and black velvet smoking slippers embossed with a white design, and Dipak Shah’s black and white eyeglass frames served as the perfect foil for the similarly optical seating and cushions. But nobody could top Ike Ude, the celebrated artist, author, dandy and fashion icon, who arrived in a black and white polka dot jacket, matching shirt, and black bow tie, which he paired with crisp white trousers and natty black and white wingtips.

All in all, the evening could not have been more spirited, visual, or successful, as summed up by the evening’s host Maria Eugenia Maury: “My husband and I were proud to chair this year’s Gala as it accompanies a renaissance for our institution. We celebrated an ambitious new director, new board leadership, and a brilliant slate of exhibitions. This year’s honorees are outstanding individuals who support the arts and our Latin community. Like El Museo, their impact is international. The enthusiasm for all this was reflected in our gala, which sold out, through longtime supporters and new.”

- Marilyn Kirschner