Gala Honors David Bowie With Shirtless Servers, Crazy '70s Vibe

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago hosted a flashy gala to celebrate the opening of the "David Bowie Is" exhibition.

By Jenny Berg October 2, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

A slew of hanging disco balls added a Studio 54-style vibe to the pop-up concert venue.

Photo: Nick Jamison

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's "David Bowie Is..." Gala
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The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will host the “David Bowie Is” exhibition through January 4. It's the only United States stop for the buzzed-about exhibition, and the museum held a lavish gala on September 20 that reflected the hype surrounding the exhibit's opening.

With tickets priced at $3,000 each, the affair was presented by Louis Vuitton and had an appropriately 1970s-inspired rock 'n' roll vibe that was conceived by designer Kim Merlin and executed with help from Event Creative. “The inspiration completely was David Bowie,” said Merlin in the weeks leading up to the event. “We also took in the idea of the '70s and iconic '70s moments—Studio 54, Bianca Jagger riding a white horse in a red dress, going to Mr. Chow's for dinner.”

The evening started with a cocktail reception in a massive tent from Partytime Productions; guests could also sip cocktails outside at tables decked in retro orange-and-white BBJ linens that were inspired by Bowie's Iggy Stardust character. For the Mr. Chow-inspired dining area, designers placed a black-and-white-checked pattern on the museum's floor, and guests had bites from Blue Plate Catering that were inspired by the famed Asian restaurant. After chilled lobster salads and strip steak (or wonton lasagna for the non-meat-eaters), it was back to the tent for a concert from Bryan Ferry and a Studio 54-style dessert reception with passed cupcakes from shirtless, glitter-dusted servers from Model Bartenders Inc. At the center of the tent, a 24-foot sunken living room that took two weeks to build served as a V.I.P. area. In short, the evening had a “crazy '70s vibe,” Merlin said.

Here's a look inside the event, which raised more than $2.85 million for the museum's exhibitions, performances, and programming.

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