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Costume Institute Gala-and What It Means

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit—long known as the "party of the year"—returns Monday, April 28, for the first time since the September 11 attacks. And according to The New York Observer's Frank DiGiacomo, the event serves as no less than a litmus test for the cultural tone and economic outlook of the city; it even confirms the rise of the meritocracy and provides a glimpse at the effects of the Bush administration's attempt to create a new world order. (And we thought we made a big deal out of parties.)

With Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, Gucci Group creative director Tom Ford and Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman as co-chairs—plus a committee list with names like Tom Hanks, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Renee Zellweger—the event "really is the first Oscars-caliber party in New York since Sept. 11," DiGiacomo writes. But it will be interesting for another reason, too. "This is also the night when Manhattan's elite will either see the end of an era—one that would fit in with the Directoire and Empire-period gowns that will be among those on display [in the institute's "Goddess" exhibit]—or the beginning of a new one."

Some background: Old Guard Society is pouting about the ever-increasing hype surrounding the gala and its mix of guests. "It's always been fun and attractive, but it seems to me it's gotten a little out of hand," says the always quotable Nan Kempner, who also called the $3,500 dinner ticket price "terribly expensive." But they're selling: The Met has a waiting list for the 750 to 800 dinner seats, and sales of the $250 after-party tickets were "on par" with the last event, the Observer reports.

And what does Ford have in mind for the decor? "It's not his sensibility to do things very grandiose or lavish," Wintour says. "We're thinking of using cherry blossoms because those are in flower at that time, and just doing things that are very optimistic and in tune with the season."

Posted 04.23.03

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