The scene at the Met Costume Institute Gala.
|This year’s Metropolitan Costume Institute Gala marks the Costume Institute’s tribute to Paul Poiret, the leading fashion designer of the first two decades of the 20th century. M. Poiret was based in Paris in a period now known as the Belle Epoque. His contribution to the annals of fashion was notable for several reasons, not the least of which is that his ideas are now part of the fundamental language of modern fashion.
Poiret cut his teeth in Paris fashion as a draftsman for Jacques Doucet in the House of Worth, the leading fashion house of the Victorians, both European and American. Because, unlike most in his business, he could not sew, he did something now commonplace but then revolutionary: he executed his ideas by draping them on his models, creating remarkable innovations in cut and construction. Because of him, out went the extreme (and often unhealthy) cinching constraints of the corset and in came…voila!… the brassiere, or as he put it: “I freed the bust…”
|M. Poiret was famous for his oriental and Art Deco gowns, his “suspender belt,” flesh-colored stockings, culottes, the first sheath (in modern times) and the first sack dress. He moved the post-Victorians out of the soft and often dark colors into bright primary colors.
Poiret was also the first couturier to create a signature perfume – Rosine – named for one of his two daughters. His brand or what would today would be called a logo, was the rose (hence the roses we see on the actresses attending last week’s Costume Institute Gala.
|The innovative couturier also established the image of designer as “celebrity,” with a talent for self-promotion that produced fame and therefore profits. Profits that made him rich (until the 1929 Crash). Calling himself the “King of Fashion,” he reigned until the rise of a gamine from the provinces, one Coco Chanel, who took his revolutionary idea of pantaloons one very radical step further: she put women in the “little black dress,” and more importantly, in pants, presaging, as true fashion always does, social movements.
The Met Costume Institute’s exhibitions are always fascinating, informative, entertaining and perceptive. The co-curators of the Poiret exhibit, Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda, the director of the Institute, (seen here with Anna Wintour), have defined Poiret’s influence as pre-Modernism. Poiret’s muse was his wife Denise whose style is described as “gamine” and “Bohemian.” Her personal wardrobe which was sold at auction only two years ago, form the core of the Costume Institute’s show and its illustrated book. The exhibition runs through August 5th.
|Last month, Oscar de la Renta launched his West Coast flagship boutique on Melrose Place in West Hollywood with an evening benefiting the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund. And for Oscar the stars came out to see (and be seen, naturally): Jennifer Garner, Amanda Peet, Amber Valletta, Angie Harmon, Brooke Shields and Chris Hency, Camilla Belle, Cindy Crawford, Gretchen Mol, Ione Skye, Kristin Davis, Lauren Graham, Lisa Kudro, Lori Loughlin, along with hosts Jamie Tisch, Kelly Chapman Meyer and Eliza Bolen.
The boutique was designed by architecture firm, Meyer Davis, a 4,000 square foot, two-story boutique featuring décor details from de la Renta’s native Dominican Republic, such as Dominican coral stone and high-gloss white anigré wood that creates a simple yet elegant backdrop for the designer’s collections. Other highlights include two gorgeous landscaped courtyards with existing fountains designed by Nancy Powers, a working fireplace and original dentil moldings throughout the space.
|Lauren and Jim Watkins have been graced with a beautiful little child named Liam who several years ago was diagnosed with Autism. This diagnosis changed all plans the young couple might have had about their future. It also brought out the pluck and courage that is required to prevail when one’s luck feels down and the future loses luster. The Watkinses are plucky people. Their son’s diagnosis evoked the courage and commitment that is possible, but not always perceptible in all of us.
Autism, once an unknown visitor in most lives has become shockingly prevalent in our world. One out of every 150 children born today have autistic symptoms. This fact affects all of us, those with and those without children. Lauren and Jim have assumed battle positions and intend to do something about this not only for their child but for all children and for all of us.
They held a benefit a few weeks ago on a Sunday at Shea Stadium. I asked Lauren if she would write a few words about it. These are her words:
It ain't about wearing that new Calvin Klein number to the museum or those Jimmy Choo sandals to that garden party in the Hamptons. It ain't about sitting at Table One with the City's "it couple" of the moment anymore. Not for us, anyway. It's about our kid. And the thousands of kids just like him.
Jim and I have been humbled and gratified that so many of the '"socialites" we have come to know in those early years have come back to help us in spades: Morris, Farkas, de Guardiola, Hagan/Berman, Colley, Zilkha, Brooke/Goldstein, even Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.
|On Sunday Aprill 22nd, we held A DAY TO BELIEVE: AUTISM AWARENESS DAY AT SHEA
After days of soggy weather, the sun shone brightly on that day. A fine showing of Manhattanites trudged out to Queens for the Mets vs. Braves game -- not just because the Mets are pistol-hot this year, but because the Mets were dedicating this game against their arch-rivals to the fight against the devastating neurological disorder of autism. Every bat, run, catch and slide at Shea was in service to the thousands of New York- area children and their parents and families living with autism, by benefiting several autism education, service and advocacy programs.
Jim and I went to a Mets game 5 years ago (when-the Mets weren't doing so hot) and fell in love with the team. Jim started visiting the team’s broadcast booth (doesn't hurt that Jim is an anchor for Channel 11, which broadcasts many Mets homegames), and I became a familiar figure in the Mets clubhouse.
Jim and I huddled with Laura and Harry Slatkin, Billy and Ophelia Rudin, and Pat and Jimmy Cayne (Jimmy's the CEO of Bear Stearns) -- all board members of the NY Center for Autism. We hatched a plan to ditch a black tie fundraiser, and opted instead for a festive baseball game, with an upscale tailgate party and field-level seating for 1400. Mets VP Dave Howard took one look at my business plan (he'd recognized me from my years of financial news anchoring on CNN), and felt I had the goods. So the Mets hoisted the VIP tent, cooked up filet mignon right next to the hot dogs, and the party that kicked off in the tent spilled over into the stands. With the backing of Bear Stearns, Hess Corp, and the Amazins' Autism Awareness Day at Shea truly became a "A Day to Believe,” $450,000 was raised to fight this mysterious brain disorder, that now affects one out of every 150 children born today.
|Photographs by ©Patrick McMullan|