Costume Institute Gala Puts Models on the Red Carpet, in the Decor, and in El Morocco-Style Banquettes

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute debuted its latest exhibit, "The Model as Muse," at Monday night's gala, and the subject matter was in the decor and all over the red carpet.

By Michael O'Connell May 6, 2009, 11:53 AM EDT

Dinner at the Costume Institute gala

Photo: Don Pollard/Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute gala returned Monday night, seemingly unfettered by the recession, previous reports of low ticket sales, and some last-minute tabloid drama inspired by the institute's latest exhibition, “The Model as Muse.” The night drew a sold-out crowd of 650, including Victoria Beckham, Madonna, and Rihanna.

But it was the models who seemed to take up most of the spots on the red carpet this year. Co-chair Kate Moss arrived on the arm of honorary chair Marc Jacobs, and aside from a few absences—Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell publicly boycotted the gala for the exhibition's exclusion of designer Azzedine Alaïa—the guest list featured most of the industry's biggest icons, including Cindy Crawford, Iman, and Twiggy.

Vogue special events director Stephanie Winston Wolkoff returned to produce the gala, planning over a period of nearly nine months with Met vice president for development and membership Nina Diefenbach, deputy chief development officer for events Kristin MacDonald, and deputy chief special events officer Ashley Potter Bruynes.

John Myhre and Raul Avila were responsible for the night's decor, which took inspiration from extinct Manhattan nightclub El Morocco. The venue's iconic zebra print made its way into a carpet that took guests from the receiving area, through the Great Hall, into the exhibition, and on to dinner in the Temple of Dendur. Frost Lighting cloaked the latter room with blue lights and stars.  

Staying true to the night's theme, models also found their way into the decor. A six-foot mannequin, dubbed “The Muse,” was sheathed in white roses and yards of gray and beige fabric in the middle of the Great Hall. Marc Jacobs and his studio designed the tableau to illustrate the relationship between designers and models, and French hairstylist Julien d'Ys contributed the mannequin's massive wig.  

At the dinner, caterer Glorious Food served guests a menu also inspired by El Morocco, which included tournedos Rossini—that's filet mingon in a boozy reduction, if you don't already know—with broiled tomato persillé, sauteed spinach, and pommes gaufrettes. Kanye West took the stage during the meal to perform a three-song set.

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