LOS ANGELES The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' opulent Oscar night Governors Ball is considered by many to be the requisite first stop on the party circuit after the show at the Kodak. And this year, the ball for 1,500 guests at Hollywood & Highland Center's grand ballroom got a new chairman: Oscar-nominated costume designer Jeffrey Kurland, an academy governor representing the art directors branch, who put his own stamp on the proceedings. Waiters, cocktail servers, and the all-female orchestra—400 costumed personnel in all—wore outfits of his design according to this year's theme, the 1930s Art Deco design style called Streamline Moderne.
Kurland worked with Cheryl Cecchetto and the Sequoia Productions team to produce the event. “After our first meeting, I was completely inspired. We discussed what era we both have admired,” said Cecchetto, who has worked on the ball for more than two decades. “He spoke to me of his work—the angles and curves of the most beautiful gowns. I went to town and blended together such talents of the late 1930s Streamline Moderne—Paul Williams, Dorothy Draper—and various architecture from the era, and then changed all the lines in the ballroom to magnificent Kurland-inspired curves.”
Paul Williams' original ceiling for Saks Fifth Avenue inspired the 26,000-square-foot trilevel ceiling, which glittered with fiber-optic chandeliers. Charcoal iridescent taffeta, platinum and cognac matte satin, and amethyst tulle were among the materials that went into the look. A cascading staircase added drama to the stage. Mark's Garden provided the flowers—15 different tabletop combinations in varying shapes and sizes. Varieties included purple calla lillies, protea, exotic leaves, mirrored bases, and copper-toned votives combined with custom lamps atop tables. “The old Earl Carroll Theatre and the historic interior designs of the '30s and '40s were our inspiration, but the overall effect was contemporary,” said Mark Held of Mark's Garden.
Wolfgang Puck again catered with Oscar statuette-shaped foods, including smoked salmon and gold-dusted chocolates from pastry chef Sherry Yard. In all, 250 culinary staffers used 50,000 organic baby vegetables, 1,200 pounds of organic chicken, and 15 whole yellowtails, among other ingredients, to prepare the feast. Puck's entree included house-smoked salmon or chicken pot pie, and sponsor Moët & Chandon poured 1,200 bottles of champagne.
And for the first time, the Academy Award recipients had their statuettes engraved on the spot at the ball. Technicians were standing by at a custom-designed engraving service area to produce and engrave the name on each winner's Oscar.