When Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were honored by La Fondazione NY at the Museum of the Moving Image, the designers made a huge effort to guarantee that the gala was a grandioso successo.
Unlike some “celebrities” who arrive at the last minute, pose begrudgingly, converse only with their homies, and contribute little to the event but their abbreviated presence–the D&G guys went all out. They designed the invitation, staged an eye-popping (one night only) display of their clothing, agreed to co-sponsor a Summer 2015 exhibition of Italian-made costumes at the Queens museum, brought along ravishing models and cool colleagues, mingled graciously with benefactors of the charity and generally exuded an air of bonhomie. They looked like they were having fun because they were. And so was everyone else.
Not to forget, Domenico and Stefano, wherever they go, like to be surrounded by beauty. Their brilliant team decorated the tables with lace cloths atop velvet ones, luscious fruits and marzipan replicas, and flowers so perfect it was hard to believe they were real (they were). The foyer was lined with stately ficus trees upon which fat Meyer lemons had been festooned with slender black wires. They thought of everything, including the elegant calligraphy on the placement cards.
No fashion house of this epoch is more cinematic in its vision and its approach than Dolce & Gabbana. These fellows didn’t just show up for the gala, they commandeered the gala, and transformed it into a Visconti movie, that also starred Baz Luhrmann and Katie Couric, who both circulated and smiled nonstop.
The lucky guests were transported from a building in Astoria to a palazzo in Palermo on a balmy evening circa 1885. These days, 19th-century Sicily is considered the peak of chic. If you weren’t at the gala, che peccato. You would have loved it.
Hosting the evening was Dr. Riccardo Viale, the chairman of La Fondazione NY, which facilitates the interaction of artists from Italy and America and sponsors scholars.
Mistress of ceremonies was the always upbeat Katie Couric. We hate to call her perky, it’s so overused, so let’s go with effervescent. Katie is the super-talented TV personality who was just finding her legs and her audience as anchor of CBS Evening News when she was prematurely sacked. Today she has a deal with Yahoo for a reported $5 million a year. Hopefully, she’ll be back delivering hard news ere long.
Katie charmed the crowd immediately (“I love being around Italians, I spent two honeymoons in Italy”) with her easy patter (“If I butcher any Italian tonight, next time ask Maria Bartiromo“). Drum roll, cymbal crash.
Baz Luhrmann, the pyrotechnic director of such kinetic films as The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge, and, my favorite, Romeo and Juliet, was also relaxed and in good form. He was without his wife/collaborator, the costume designer Catherine Martin, but he managed to insert a plug for her housewares line into the short film that helped introduce him. Couric cooed, “In a world full of derivative wannabes, Baz is a true original.”
Luhrmann expressed joy in being feted at the world’s most important museum dedicated to cinematic art. He said that when he was making Romeo and Juliet, he tracked down the hairstylist that Fellini used and has employed him ever since.
Signor Dolce and Signor Gabbana have a lot to be happy about. Their fashion house is celebrating its 30th year, and they are celebrating the dismissal of those spurious tax evasion charges that Italian bureaucrats hounded them with in recent years. It was a technicality, something about transferring ownership of their umbrella corporation to a foreign entity, but it was an unpleasant experience, at one time involving a sentence to jail (never served). Other designers like Armani, Cavalli and Versace have also been pursued by Italian tax authorities. Grazie a Dio, it’s over.
In their glamorous entourage were Giovanna Battaglia, the onetime Dolce “face” who at 28 became a fashion editor and now heads up Uomo Vogue; Lucrezia Bucellati, employed in the family firm; Coco Brandolini; and Sofia Sanchez Barrenechea, who lights up a room like a klieg light.
I also saw jewelry designer Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, whose mother was Italian royalty; Princess Alexandra Romanoff, née Mimi di Niscemi in the noble family from Palermo (Dimitri introduced her as “my aunt”); Fabrizio and Geraldina Ferri; Phillips and Inès Theodoli Clarke; Jason Wu; Bisila Bokoko, the toast of three continents; Shalini Kasliwal, CEO of Sanjay Kasliwal on Madison Avenue, the distinguished firm whose jewelry has been delighting the most discerning aesthetes for centuries; and Alejandra Cicognani, who spent five months orchestrating this magnificent affair.
It seemed right to see Julian Schnabel sitting at the Dolce table in this extraordinary museum. Julian first found fame as a painter and deconstructer of crockery, but in my view his foremost talent is cinema. Before Night Falls (2000) is his best so far. Miral (2010) is lovely, but was suppressed as politically incorrect.
Next summer Dolce and La Fondazione will co-sponsor an exhibit at the museum featuring the extravagant and meticulous costumes of Tirelli Atelier, which has been the go-to house for pre-eminent Italian filmmakers since 1964. Orb predicts this show will emblazon the museum on the map.