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Performa Fund-Raiser Puts Guests in Metallic Clothing

For its biannual fund-raiser, Performa recreated Bauhaus's 1929 Metallic Festival and offered guests several options for complying with the strict metallic dress code.

By Michael O'Connell November 18, 2008, 11:08 AM EST

Makeshift costumes at Performa's Metal Ball

Photo: Keith Sirchio for BizBash

Performa's Metal Ball
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Much like the “White on White” party in 2006, this year’s incarnation of Perfoma’s biennial fund-raiser had a very strict dress code. The Metal Ball, held Saturday night at Chelsea’s Cedar Lake, demanded the 300 guests dress in their finest gold, silver, and other metals to pay homage to the Bauhaus school’s 1929 Metallic Festival, witness some of Performa’s distinctive performance art, and raise $250,000 for the multidisciplinary arts organization’s upcoming festival.

Overseen by Performa director RoseLee Goldberg, general manager Esa Nickle, and production manager Mike Skinner, the intimate dinner and much grander after-party brought together benefactors, artists, and enthusiasts to start the ramp-up to the 2009 festival. One thing the eclectic crowd had in common was their reflective attire. Even guests who didn’t arrive in metallic clothing had to meet with tailors at the “Emergency Sewing Circle” near the entrance to receive custom scarves, hats, and collars made of silvery paper.

Makeshift ensembles weren’t for everyone, though. Most guests arrived fully costumed, and if you saw any doubles, it was probably because they bought them at the same store. Ten days before the ball, designer Issey Miyake hosted Peforma’s Metal Shop in the lower level of his fittingly Frank Gehry-designed TriBeCa flagship store. Performa installed the pop-up with the intention of easing the guests' burdens of finding appropriate outfits for the ball—and raising some extra money in the process. Michael Kors, Puma, and Issey Miyake were among more than a dozen designers and brands to contribute clothing and jewelry, and ticket holders received a 10 percent discount on all of the items for sale.

At the party itself, flashes from cameras and a light show designed by Light + Stage Design united the shiny attire, decor, and moving art show. Light bounced off of guests as they danced—and in some instances participated—with the roster of performers that included Stumblebum Brass Band, the Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic, and movement artists RobbinsChilds. The diverse showcase of artists offered a small taste of where the night’s earnings would up.  

The fruits of that fund-raising may still be a long way off—Performa’s three-week biennial is scheduled for November 2009—but plenty of details for the third iteration of the multi-platform arts festival are set. Next year's event will celebrate the centennial of the futurism movement, and the organization has already tapped more than 100 international performers to participate.

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