By Wendy Wollenberg Posted July 25, 2008, 3:28 PM EDT
The Chicago Cultural Center threw a splashy party Thursday night to celebrate the opening of “Life as a Legend,” a 300-piece art exhibit commemorating the life of Marilyn Monroe. The event also served to unveil the center's recently renovated Tiffany dome, located in the grand Preston Bradley Hall.
Monroe's unmistakable stamp could be found throughout the Cultural Center, from the wash of hot pink lighting in the reception area,to an omnipresent lips-and-mole logo. Tall white plexiglass cubes stood in for the standard check-in tables, and guests could approach one of several to register and receive a small pin bearing the Monroe-inspired logo. Tall floral arrangements in swirling shapes and deep crimson hues decorated the center tables, while screens displaying the event sponsors' logos sat behind.
The event had several distinct areas set up throughout the Cultural Center. The main party took place in the Preston Bradley Hall under the historic dome. Seven Chicago catering companies set up food stations inspired by iconic Monroe movies (The Misfits, How to Marry a Millionaire). At Blue Plate Catering's Some Like It Hot station, spicy Vietnamese pho made with Waygu beef or shrimp played upon the hot theme, while an area dubbed the “Cooling Station” offered carrot, papaya, or kaffir lime sorbets. Jewell Events Catering ran with There's No Business Like Show Business, offering individual pan pizzas with roasted pears and caramelized onions, savory lollipops of chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, and beef pastry puffs with Dijon creme and chives, all served from a candy- and popcorn-covered booth. The company also featured one of the more popular items of the evening—Sno Cones topped with ice-blue Hypnotiq liqueur and a piece of starfruit.
Dessert was served in a lounge-style setting installed in the G.A.R. Hall, where the Hearty Boys Caterers set up a fondue bar with several dipping sauces and individual pieces of fruit, marshmallows, and cookies for dunking. Also available was the signature drink, the “Sunken Ruby,” a concoction of Starbucks Cream Liqueur and DeKuyper Hot Damn liqueur, and a single maraschino cherry. In this area, Event Creative went with a stylized white-on-white look to play upon “Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend,” with swings and ottomans for guests to perch on, glittery table linens, columns outfitted with crystals, and fringed light fixtures. Classic black-and-white Marilyn Monroe film vignettes played on the back wall.
The art exhibit could be found in the fourth-floor Sidney R. Yates Gallery. Uplighted sheer columns with red crystal chandeliers outfitted the room leading into the display area with classic photographs and modern artworks inspired by Monroe. At the end of the exhibit, a hallway leading back to the party featured white curtains with projected images of the star along with rose petals strewn along the floor.