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  • The Glamour and Glitz of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute

    July 31, 2015

    When the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute show, China: Through the Looking Glass , debuted in the late spring, the show’s opening-night gala took its place as the most coveted event on Gotham’s spring social calendar. Le tout New York (and for that matter, Hollywood and the world) made an entrance that night, to see and be seen. And the splendor of the attendees’ own “costumes” and the bejeweled arms necks, ears (and hair!) speak to the significance of the occasion among the glitterati. The exhibit, which features three distinct areas of exploration—late empire, new Republic, and the period of the cultural revolution—chronicles the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion, both currently and historically. High fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, jewelry, paintings, porcelains, and other art forms, including films.

    For opening night, as usual, the exterior of the Met featured a massive white-tented, red-carpet entry way; the walls of the tent, constructed up the building’s outdoor staircase, were cloaked in towering foliage, as if one had entered a bamboo forest. Chinese-style, silk-pajama-clad greeters dotted the grand staircase. And at the top of the entrance, in the Met’s central atrium, a colossal, blue-and-white, “porcelain” Chinese ginger jar held sway, greeting party-goers.

    And just who ascended those stairs? Simple answer: Everyone.

    Edgy and talked-about publicity hounds like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, who actually changed outfits (Mary Kate started the evening in Christian Dior and Ashley began in John Galliano) after the opening, into more sportif garb for the after-party, hosted by Rihanna; Rihanna herself arrived in a gold-embroidered, fur-trimmed cloak designed by Chinese designer Guo Pei, and which required a staff to trail her, managing the train; Cher (in Marc Jacobs); Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (in Roberto Cavalli); Naomi Campbell and Miley Cyrus.

    Hollywood and Broadway celebs, like Helen Mirren (in Dolce & Gabbana), Julianne Moore (in and on the arm of Riccardo Tisci, the designer of Givenchy), Anne Hathaway (in Ralph Lauren), Kate Hudson( in Michael Kors), Katie Holmes (in Zac Posen), Reese Witherspoon (in Jason Wu), Sofia Vergara (in Marchesa), Claire Danes (in a dark green velvet Valentino), Sarah Jessica Parker (in a staggering Chinese-inspired headdress), Emily Blunt, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Lawrence (in Dior, but on the arm of Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein), Kate Hudson (in Michael Kors, who hosted another sought-after, post-gala fete at the Mark), Olivia Wilde, Elizabeth Banks, Spike and Tonya Lewis Lee (she in dazzling jewelry). All eyes were on the women, but there were plenty of bold-faced names among the Y-chromosome set: Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka (both sporting hand-painted bow ties with Chinese motifs).

    From the world of music were legends like P. Diddy, Jay-Z and Beyoncé (she in a barely-there Givenchy), Usher, John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber (in a striking gold-dragon-embroidered tux), Madonna who entered with music producer Diplo; Alicia Keys (with designer Jean Paul Gaultier), and Jennifer Lopez, who arrived wearing Atelier Versace and trailed by Donatella herself.

    Seventh Avenue designers were out in full force, as one might imagine: Michael Kors, Thakoon and Sienna Miller, Cher and Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, and Stella McCartney with a blingy belt and sparkly barrette in her hair.

    Other notables included former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, socialite Lauren Santo Domingo, models Karlie Koss and Karen Elson, among the many mannequins strutting their stuff, and the handsome Winklevoss twins (in custom Tom Ford tuxes), Cameron and Tyler, who won $65 million in their lawsuit with Facebook.

    And a cast of thousands.

    Of special interest to us, as always, is the jewelry: On deck were sparkling baubles from Chanel Haute Joaillerie, Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany, Harry Winston, Piaget, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Not to mention on the men, watches galore—from every company you can name—Jaeger LeCoultre, A. Lange & Söhne, Chopard, Breguet, Blancpain, Tag Heuer, Rolex, IWC, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet—you get the idea.

    But it seemed the jewelry designers-of-the-moment were Lorraine Schwartz, whose bijoux were spotted on Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, Amal Clooney, Kate Hudson, Zhang Ziyi, among the many, and Cindy Chao, whose glittering gems were sported by Sarah Jessica Parker, Ivanka Trump, and Wendy Murdoch. Gleaming on wrists, ear lobes, necks, and hair were sparkling pieces from Chopard (Kendall Jenner, Zoe Kravitz), Solange Azagury-Partridge, Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie, and even stunning estate pieces from the proverbial vault.

    Photos are courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
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