Party of the Year? 1750, Maybe

May 5, 2004, 12:00 AM EDT

This year, guests of the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute gala dined in the American Wing rather than in the Met’s cafeteria, where dinner has traditionally been served. (Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum.)

Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefitMetropolitan Museum of ArtMonday, 04.26.04, 7 PM to 1 AM
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True to its moniker, the “Party of the Year,” the Costume Institute gala was every bit the spectacle New Yorkers have come to expect as the Metropolitan Museum's marquee fete becomes more celebrity-packed and media-mobbed every year. This year's “Dangerous Liaisons” theme was inspired by the Met's 18th-century fashion and furniture exhibit and coordinated by the museum's special events department, with some help from former director Chris Giftos.

Asprey was the gala's lead sponsor, and décor designer Robert Isabell incorporated the British luxury goods company's signature purple color throughout the event, with a purple carpet for arrivals, purple exterior lighting, purple table linens custom-made for the event, a 20-foot-tall lilac arrangement and 1,000 purple votive candles lining the stairs in the Great Hall. Asprey also supplied flower-printed porcelain china and Murano crystal for the tabletops in the Charles Engelhard Court of the American Wing, where Glorious Food served the $3,500-a-seat dinner for 700: artichoke hearts with poached quail eggs and caviar, filet of beef with béarnaise sauce, mélange of spring vegetables, new potatoes and copious Veuve Clicquot. Isabell transformed the dining area into a French outdoor garden, with abundant lilacs and topiaries.

Just as many of the guests' wardrobes did not keep with the theme--boned corsets are not known for being comfortable--neither did the entertainment at the less-exclusive after-party: N.E.R.D. headed up by Pharrell Williams performed on a stage adjacent to the Temple of Dendur between DJ Frank Delour's pop and hip-hop sets. (Did 18th century aristocracy groove to Beyoncé and P. Diddy?) But even if the theme got lost in translation (by the way, Scarlett Johansson was a knockout in yellow Calvin Klein), the event was a financial success: The gala raised more than $3 million for the Met.

Alesandra Dubin

Read our coverage of last year's event...

Read our coverage of the 2001 event...

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