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Whitney Is Black, White & Fab All Over

October 22, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT

Whitney Museum of American Art's fall gala Whitney Museum of American Art Monday, 10.21.02, 7:30 PM onward
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Considered one of the hipper benefits of the social circuit, the Whitney Museum of American Art's fall gala recreates itself every year, and this year's Black, White & Whitney theme was embodied by a symmetrical half-black, half-white dining room, on the heels of last year's colorful circus-themed fete. The museum's in-house special events office planned the event's logistics along with Harriet Weintraub, who has worked on the gala for several years.

Big-time event designer Colin Cowie segregated the third-floor gallery into black and white sides, cut evenly down the middle with black and white carpets—that even followed through into the elevator—and every item of decor was color-coordinated to match. On the white side, square plates from Broadway Famous Party Rentals were complimented by square-stemmed flatware and tall, circular vases overflowing with white flowers from Absolutely Wild. On the black side, square black trays with circular plates were paired with squat, square vases with black stripes that held white roses and tea lights. Caterwaiters attired in all-white and all-black uniforms served their respective sides.

The room's walls were lined with horizontal black-and-white stripes, and a scrim dividing the dining area and the makeshift kitchen showed projections of the words “black,” “white” and “Whitney” and black-and-white footage of dancers. The Todd Londagin Band performed on a small elevated stage in the middle of the room throughout the meal.

For dinner, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten created a menu of sea scallops, black olives and endive salad, slowly braised beef shortribs, black mushroom jam and celeriac puree with cocoa spaetzle, which was executed by Tentation. Black-and-white desserts followed: dark chocolate tarts with mint ice cream and black and white squares.

While dinner guests were finishing up their gourmet meals, an after-party for the young professional crowd started in the museum's lower level, offering comfort food like mini-hamburgers, s'mores and Rice Krispies treats. A tented area outside was lit with black light by Stortz Lighting—giving a glowing effect to the large black sofa beds lined in white and topped with large black-and-white satin pillows. Black and white bars topped with tall vases covered in faux fur and spilling white gerbera daisies were set up on either end to serve wine and flavored martinis. Tom Finn spun a mix of R&B-tinged dance music before headliner Lamya took to the stage.

Jill Musguire

Read about last year's circus-themed gala...

Read about 2000's Club Whitney-themed gala

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