'King of Fashion' Poiret Reigns at NY's Met Ball
New York’s social set never wants for an excuse to get dressed up. But of all the city’s spring balls and parties, there is no event more decadent or debonair than the Costume Institute Ball, which is the event of the social season. This year’s ball, held on Monday, May 7 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, provided an additional opportunity for a bit of fancy-dress since the evening celebrated the flamboyant exoticism of the early 1900s French couturier Paul Poiret, who is the subject of a special summer exhibition at the Met.
At the Costume Institute Ball, Poiret’s spirit was alive and well in dresses chosen by guests from the worlds of fashion, entertainment and media. Miuccia Prada paid homage to Poiret’s feather fetish by wearing a skirt she designed using plastic orange feathers. Vogue’s American editor-at-large, Hamish Bowles wore a custom-made absinthe-colored Tom Ford robe, which would not have looked out of place at the fabulous Oriental-themed parties that Poiret used to throw in his time.
Poiret’s great contributions to fashion included the suspender belt, his free-flowing pantaloons and dresses and the brassiere, which liberated women from the constraints of corsets. He famously said, “Yes, I freed the bust, but I shackled the legs.”
Among the ASW members who received highly-prized invites to the ball were Naomi Campbell, who wore a short black Azzedine Alaïa dress adorned with black feathers and Lauren Davis, who shone in a strapless lemon gown by Nina Ricci. Julia Restoin-Roitfeld (in Phi), Fabiola Beracasa (in Givenchy Couture) and Olivia Chantecaille (in Valentino Couture) were also amongst the lucky members present. Chantecaille said of the evening, “The party was incredibly glamorous; everywhere you looked there was something and someone more beautiful than the next. The Met Ball is like the Oscars of New York.”
Anna Wintour, Cate Blanchett, and Nicolas Ghesquiere
Poiret’s penchant for brightly-hued colors received a nod from Rosario Dawson, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu who chose rich maroon gowns for the occasion. Others – including actress Elizabeth Banks – wore dresses that featured Poiret’s favorite motif, the rose. Dr. Lisa Airan and Vanity Fair’s Alexis Bryan sashayed up the Met’s grand entrance staircase in vintage pieces created by the man himself.
While several guests opted for Poiret-inspired headbands, there were few signs of another Poiret staple, the turban, which was most recently seen on the catwalk at Prada’s Spring/Summer 2007 show. “I don’t understand why more people are not wearing it,” said designer Rachel Roy, who left her turban at home for evening. “They are the best party pieces since they really get people talking.”
Even without the presence of turbaned guests, there was plenty to talk about during cocktail hour and dinner afterwards. The lavish deco, caged peacocks and Jennifer Hudson’s performance provided enough fodder to last the entire evening and perhaps, the days that followed as well.
The Poiret: King of Fashion exhibition is on at the Met from May 9, 2007–August 5, 2007