Charles James, Mick Jagger, Pope Francis, KAWS, Salonniere List, YAGP & Sleepover at the Museum

“One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art.” Oscar Wilde


Lady Gaga’s striptease from voluminous pink cape to retro black underwear, glittery fishnets, and platform boots commandeered the pink carpet for a visually arresting performance piece that took an unprecedented 16 minutes to execute. A posse of umbrella-wielding men in black provided the cover for her four costume changes that also included a black ball gown and a slinky pink column. Brilliant! Anna Wintour stood at the top of the museum’s stairs laughing and smiling in a display of sheer joy. When asked how anyone could follow Gaga, she quipped “Everyone should just go home!” Luckily for all of us they didn’t. The zany, campy parade of 550 stars and bright young things, in witty and wily haute couture, sashayed and vogued up the museum’s stairs, banked with greenery and festooned with thousands of pink roses, into Camp Met for three fabulous hours. The dress code was studied triviality, so there was lots of room for interpretation. Anna said “Tonight gives everyone a chance to express themselves; it’s about individuality and believing in who you are. I think everyone will have a lot of fun tonight.” The Vogue editor kept her signature sunglasses in her purse, as she made her glamorous entrance in a pink feathered cape over an intricately beaded blue, gold, and pink gown by Chanel, and she wore a diamond necklace that could choke a rhino. Why can’t the Oscars be this exciting?

Camp: Notes on Fashion

I walked through this year’s exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fash-ion, with two on-theme friends Oscar would have loved: flame-haired English designer Zandra Rhodes, who was my fiancé in the 80s, and Club Kid icon Richie Rich, who has a spectacular dress made of stuffed kittens in the show. The exhibition contains 250 objects, including paintings, hats, shoes, and dresses dating from the 17th century to the present. The explosive exhibition explores the origins of camp’s exuberant aesthetic. Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp” provided the framework for the exhibition, which examines how the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion. Why camp? Andrew Bolton, the Met’s curator in charge, explained: “Camp tends to come to the fore during moments of social and political instability — when our society is deeply polarized. Camp is by its very nature subversive.” What is camp? The historian Andrew Medhurst once said that ‘Trying to define camp is like attempting to sit in the corner of a circular room.’ Mark Booth’s Encyclopedia of Camp includes Alexander the Great, Coco Chanel, Leonardo da Vinci, David Hockney, Mick Jagger, Louis XVI, Michelangelo, John Singer Sargent, Elsa Schiaparelli, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Rupert Everett, who played Oscar Wilde in the film The Happy Prince, narrates the exhibition. In the show, Rupert’s voice intersects with Judy Garland’s camp anthem ‘Over the Rainbow.’ ” Bolton is responsible for the Met’s remarkable pink and gold catalog. See the show. Buy the book!

Designers, Dresses & Stars

Marc Jacobs, who came with Kate Moss, Rita Ora, and Lizzo, described camp with silent-screen-worthy gestures you can see on my Instagram @RCouriHay. “Camp is extra. It’s being who you are, your most affected, genuine, exaggerated, extra version of yourself and not caring about fitting in,” said Jacobs. Perfect! The gorgeous Gwen Stefani came with Moschino’s Jeremy Scott, who had so many pieces on the carpet he proclaimed himself “overwhelmed.” Scott dressed Gwen to kill by breeding Liberace with a Vegas showgirl. She said, “Jeremy put this together and I was, like, yes, I will wear that. I’m just so lucky to be here this year. I want to come every year; it’s only my third time being
here.” Jared Leto came in regal robes by his pal Gucci-designer Alessandro Michele, who
hosted the benefit along with Harry Styles (wearing in his first look a sheer top with a pearl earring), Serena Williams (in yellow Versace and sneakers) and Lady Gaga. Leto, channeling John the Baptist, carried his own head, which he handed to reporters saying, “You’ll get a better interview from him.” This was the best dodge of the night, n’est ce pas? Katie Perry came as a chandelier in an astounding feat of balance worthy of Cirque du Soleil. She told me “This weighs 40 pounds.” When I asked how long it took her to get ready she responded, “My whole life.” And this was before she donned a humongous hamburger suit for the after parties. The outfit was so difficult to maneuver in that she fell down on the dance floor and couldn’t get up. Celine Dion’s silver-fringed Oscar de la Renta number was a show stopper but when she tried to take a bite of Katie’s faux burger one wag said the super slim star “should eat a real one.” Gwyneth Paltrow came all buttoned up in buttercup yellow until the camera lights exposed her perky derrière. Kim Kardashian inspired Thierry Mugler to come out of retirement to make her skintight nude ensemble dripping with crystals resemble water. “He wanted me to look like I just came out of the ocean,” she said. “I can’t sit or pee, and I’m barely breathing.”

The Décor

The Met Ball is both exclusive and expensive, and Ms. Wintour, a Met trustee, approves every invitation. Tables cost $200K, with individual tickets at $35K; this year they raised a staggering $15 million. Over $200 million has been raised by the savvy Vogue editor since she took over the reins 21 years ago. This gala is a reflection of the luxury brands that support the Costume Institute. No expense is spared, but it is all underwritten, this year by Gucci and Condé Nast. The extravagant décor, produced by Raul Avila, was inspired by the over-the-top exuberance of the camp aesthetic. Four 25-foot tall pink flamingos, made of thousands of flowers, and with gold sequins covering their legs and beaks, greeted the guests in the Great Hall decorated with birds of paradise and ba-nana branches. Hand-painted sisal, stenciled with pink feathers, extended through the museum and up the steps, which were flanked by enormous feathers covering the walls, creating the illusion of wings. At the top, a wall of gold flowers served as a backdrop to the receiving line, where the hosts welcomed Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth (she literally licked his face like an ice cream cone), Gal Gadot, Demi Moore, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Rockefeller, Salma Hayek, Emily Ratajkowski, Jennifer Lopez & A-Rod, John Galliano, and Zendaya in a Cinderella dress by Tommy Hilfiger that lit up on cue.

The Dinner

After seeing the exhibition, Sienna Miller, Bette Midler, Michael Kors, Sean Parker, Mark Ronson, Miuccia Prada, and Julianne Moore sipped Champagne in the Petrie Court. Dinner was served in the Temple of Dendur, where walls of tropical flowers and more flamingos set the exotic tone. Tables were covered with two shades of pink cloth and set with chargers printed with matching floral branches, painted glassware, bamboo flatware, and napkins embroidered with flamingos. Natural wood ballroom chairs were covered in cushions with six different flamingo-printed patterns. If that weren’t enough to put Emma Stone, Vera Wang, Jimmy Fallon, Amber Valletta, Joe Jonas, and Sophie Turner into sensory overdrive, the meal was. Courses included wines, tomatoes stuffed with green goddess pannacotta, served along-side a filet of beef with beet horse-radish cream, and haricots verts in citrus balsamic garnished with orange flowers. How much people actually ate is a good question. Olivier Cheng catered the dinner. I knew you’d want to know. A giant gianduja cake was sliced up for dessert. Flamingo-shaped cookies and espresso were given to everyone as they departed: fuel for the after parties. The fete at the Top of the Standard celebrated its 10th year of where to go, to see and be seen, in slightly less excessive expressions of yourself, except for Katie, who is in a class all her own.

Cher: Haven’t We Met?

Cher was the first to go to the Met Costume Institute gala nearly nude, in a sheer, sequined number by Bob Mackie, back in 1974. Kim K. wasn’t even born until 1980. I interviewed Cher as she came off the Met’s escalator, and when the lights from my TV cameras exposed every bit of her, l blurted out, “Are you nude under that dress?” “Does it matter?” she purred. I blushed. Cher returned this year to perform, and you really can’t get any campier then Cher singing “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe” in a series of outlandish get-ups that culminated in thigh-high black boots and see-through black lingerie that showed off her taut buns. That said when she belted out AB- BA’s camp anthem “Waterloo,” backed by a crew of eight, the room exploded. Harry Styles jumped up to dance wearing a big red bow wrapped around his neck while Tom Ford, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Zac Posen, and Elle Fanning sang along. Cher brought her ageless pizzazz to what is The Party of the Year. Who else would tell you these things?

Charles James, The Couture Secrets of Shape

The work of Charles James, America’s first couturier, who had his own blockbuster retrospective at the Met’s Costume Institute titled Charles James: Beyond Fashion in 2014, was lauded by his contemporaries Chanel, Dior, and Balenciaga for his elegant and avant-garde designs. The late designer was feted on both sides of the pond at book parties for Charles James: The Couture Secrets of Shape by his last assistant, friend, and heir, Homer Layne, and the German fashion scholar Dorothea Mink, with text by FIT’s museum director Valerie Steele, Paul Caranicas, Carolyn Roider, and yours truly. Another American-born designer, Rick Owens, who wrote the introduction for the book, available on Amazon, hosted a raucous reception and exhibition of James’s work after his own critically-acclaimed show in Paris, where he joyfully confessed, “I have knocked off a Charles James cocoon coat.” Owens said his show was inspired by both James and Kiss designer Larry LeGaspi. “It’s about sex where the woman is in control.” Pat Cleveland, a 1970s super model who worked with James was among those dancing surrounded by James’s acclaimed draw-ings and dresses pinned like butterflies on the walls.

The Pope Paints Domingo Zapata

Domingo Zapata was understandably nervous when meeting with Pope Francis, who appointed the Spanish-born artist an ambassador for Scholas Occurrentes, an organization that promotes arts education. “Relax, now I’ll paint on you,” the pontiff told him after the swearing in, and proceeded to paint a cross, a bird, and his signature on Zapata’s blue suit. The cross and bird topped with the papal autograph is Francis’s artistic signature. Last year he painted a similar image on a pane of glass, with Zapata. This year fellow artist Mr. Brainwash and Domingo worked together on a canvas. Zapata wrote “I am human” in Spanish on the canvas. Mr. Brainwash wrote his motto “Life is beautiful” and added a heart. The painting, titled El Inmigrante,” has an immigration theme and will be auctioned off to benefit Scholas Occurrentes.

New York Academy

of Art When the art collector and philanthropist Roni Willett con-gratulated the artist Kaws on his recent $15-million-sale at the New York Academy of Art’s Tribeca Ball, she added, “It would be a dream come true to own an original work of yours one day.” With that, Kaws took out a piece of paper and did a drawing for her. This event is one of the city’s top interactive events. Guests are invited to visit the onsite studios of over 100 students, who are all happy to talk about their work. Surreal-ist painter René Magritte was the theme of this year’s photo booth. It was festooned with umbrellas, bowler hats, and green apples for the attendees to pose with. Among the stars sipping Bollinger and Taittinger Champagne were Ray Donovan’s Liev Schreiber, Brooke Shields, Naomi Watts, Art Miami’s Nick Korniloff and Pamela Cohen and the organization’s president, David Kratz.

Salonniere List

Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney, Hilary Geary Ross and her husband, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Audrey Gruss, gallerist Isabelle Bscher, Ste-ven Stoleman, and Jill Karg-man are among the New Yorkers named to the highly anticipated Salonniere List of America’s 100 Best Hosts by the nation’s leading website dedicated to the art of entertaining. The lists were inspired by society figures like Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, who created salons where good conversation about arts and letters was the star. Carla McDonald — the founder and a hostess in Austin and Nantucket — and her committee chose honorees from across the U.S., including interior designers Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper, Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrell As-ton, Charlotte Moss, Bunny Williams, Jennifer Aniston, Derek Blasberg, Ashley McDermott, Susan Gutfruend, Jean Shafiroff, Becca Carson Thrash, Lynn Wyatt and Oprah Winfrey.

Sleepover at the Museum

Writer and composer Karen LeFrak has been busy. First, she launched her new children’s book, Sleepover at the Museum, at the Museum of Natural History, which is the setting for her charming story. Guests included Blaine Trump, author Candace Bushnell, musician David Foster, and Janna Bullock. You can buy the book at or on Amazon. Next up was the world premiere of LeFrak’s stunning composition “Nothing Left” set to a choreography by Juliano Nunes, at the Youth America Grand Prix Gala at Lincoln Center. This sexy world premiere of love and loss starred Boston Ballet’s Derek Dunn and Nunes. The Bolshoi Ballet’s Olga Smirnova brought down the house in the Dying Swan, accompanied by brilliant young concert pianist Micah McLaurin. In the mix were Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen, Cicely Tyson, prima ballerina Irina Dvoroven-ko, Libbie Mugrabi, Yaz and Valentine Hernandez, Barbara Brandt, and YAGP founder and director Larissa Saveliev. The benefit gala “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow,” showcased young finalists of YAGP’s international ballet competitions and also featured the American premiere of a ballet set to music by The Rolling Stones. The organization has given out more than $4 million in scholarships and 450 YAGP alumni are now dancing with 80 top companies around the world.

The Rolling Stones Ballet

Ballerina and choreographer Melanie Hamrick and her partner, Mick Jagger, celebrated their ballet Porte Rouge at two receptions in NYC, culminating in a drop-dead chic dinner at THE POOL, hosted by arts patron Marcella Guarino Hymowitz and NET-A-PORTER. Glamorous guests, whose names were written on the mirrored tabletop, included ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie and choreographer Alexei Ratman-sky, Vogue’s Hamish Bowles, and skin-care mogul Peter Thom-as Roth. Hamrick said the ballet’s name was inspired by The Stones’ hit song “Paint It Black.” She also collaborated with the band’s lighting and costume designer on the piece. When Mick was asked who their two-year-old son, Deveraux, most resembled, he quipped, “It’s too early to tell.” The ballet had its world premiere at The Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia and its American début at the Youth America Grand Prix’s 20th anniversary gala at the David H. Koch Theater. The company’s glamorous founder, Larissa Saveliev, commissioned the piece from Hamrick, and it will next be seen at American Ballet Theatre.