The Museum of Contemporary Art built its fall gala around one of the most accessible artists on the contemporary scene—Takashi Murakami, whose colorful bags for Louis Vuitton have spread his fame far beyond the art world. Not surprisingly, the weekend of events hailing the opening of his one-man show broke attendance records, with 8,000 fans of his playful, fetishistic work inspired by Japanese anime cramming the members’ evening at the Geffen Contemporary on Saturday. That meant MOCA's imaginative director of special events, Vanessa Gonzalez, working with Best Events' production team, had to accomplish a Herculean turnaround for the Murakami gala the following night.
More than 1,300 guests turned out for cocktails and nearly 1,000 stayed on for the seated dinner of tuna sashimi, seared beef rib eye with shiitake mushrooms, and banana spring rolls in coconut tapioca. As attendees picked up their dinner tickets, organizers handed them natural-leather card cases imprinted with a signature Murakami flower face, made by Vuitton as a souvenir of the evening. (Susan Loughry, Vuitton’s global events director, collaborated on the event.)
Museum supporters entered a cavernous black space, with walls and overhead spheres emblazoned with the artist’s colorful cartoons of skulls and eyes. Greeting guests was a silent chorus line of a dozen women dressed as Murakami’s recurring character Miss Ko2, sporting long champagne-blonde wigs and sequined bustiers designed by Lunna Menoh. Revelers sipped Belvedere white cosmos in black martini glasses and nibbled spicy-tuna sushi and chicken yakitori passed by Patina as Kanye West (another Murakami collaborator) performed a few songs.
To get to the dining hall, guests passed through two doorways framed with Murakami-Vuitton trunks. One trunk was so short that people had to stoop to pass through to the other room, lending the journey an Alice in Wonderland-ish flair. Murakami flower faces were projected along the hall’s long walls and emblazoned on chargers, which guests scooped up as they headed to their cars.