Night at the Museum: Mugler and Buccellati takeover two iconic New York institutions
Party-secret ingredient number is always an after-hours location. At least in the case of two events that took place in New York on a Tuesday night. One took guests to the majestic Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York's second-largest gallery in a Beaux-Arts building. At the same time, the other had invitees getting a nighttime sneak peek at The Whitney Museum, which has been relocated to the Meatpacking District since 2014.
The Brooklyn Museum hosted the fifth world tour stop of the retrospective of the late designer's work, 'Couturissime', which features over 150 creations worn by celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Liza Minnelli, Celine Dion, and Beyoncé.
The exhibit also includes film clips and costumes worn in George Michael's Too Funky video, and La Tragédie de Macbeth made by the 1985 Comédie-Française production at the Festival d'Avignon in France. In a 2019 interview, Mugler spoke to this reporter for a previous article in The Hollywood Reporter, "I staged my first Macbeth at nine years old with friends of mine, and I never stopped! Being a professional ballet dancer helped me to be conscious of the body, and since then, I have kept directing."
He also relayed his love of costume and the silver screen. "As a child, I would escape from school to go to the theater and spend my entire day looking at the silver screen," Mugler said in 2019. "I know this deeply gave me a sense of aesthetic and staging. Hollywood at that time was about perfection from actresses to directors, costume designers to scenarios. When it came to staging my own beauties in my shows and videos, I wanted to make my dreams come true. Life is definitely a stage."
Thus, celebrating the opening in New York, home to much of the standard-bearing underground nightlife scene in the 1980s and 1990s, legendary party host Susanne Bartsch orchestrated the evening's performers and club personality crew that were in attendance.
Guests were directed to the Beaux-Arts Court lit in signature brand blue to catch Amanda Lepore channel Marilyn Monroe in a sultry burlesque performance and one by Joey Arias, an iconic drag cabaret performer who is closely aligned with Klaus Nomi and his estate. Bartsch orchestrated dancers and performers to echo the spirit of the designer's soul and club life.
Additionally, a quartet of dancers with high horse-tail ponytails dressed in sexy Mugler Lycra-centric outfits danced on the DJ stage and later projected in silhouette behind a blue mesh screen. A male burlesque dancer Làszlò Major gave a stunning and brave performance incorporating ballet, burlesque, and a shaky pole that awed in its physical ability and left nothing to the imagination. Spontaneous ballroom-style cat walking erupted with another group of other revelers and voguers, who, in most cases, were decked out in highly creative, custom-made outfits that bridged the gap between costume and fashion.
Along with the dazzling nightlife crew, other guests in attendance included Kylie Jenner, Marc Jacobs, Laverne Cox, Lourdes Leon, Julia Fox, and Mugler creative director Casey Callwader took in the exhibit and festivities. A special appearance by Dianne Brill, who has been making the rounds in New York since moving back to the city after living in Switzerland with LA-based fashion and costume designer Michael Schmidt in tow.
"I saw the exhibit in Paris when Manfred (Thierry changed his names in 2002 to Manfred) was in attendance. The space here is exceptional; it's much bigger with higher ceilings. The curators Thierry-Maxime Loriot of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and The Brooklyn Museum's Matthew Yokobosky did a killer job," Brill told FashionNetwork.com.
The nightlife icon and muse recalled her relationship with Mugler. "I modeled in every show for nine years unless I was pregnant. Rewatching the videos, which are so good and unusual, I wondered 'what was going on in your head when you were walking,'" she reminisced.
“He gave me a character and one-line, and then I put the outfit on and did that. It was his direction that allowed me to express myself. I think it's why my passages hold up. He appreciated what I was; he wanted that but on steroids," she said, conscious not to sound arrogant.
"It's pure fandom. Mugler's intrigue was his technological skill to move the art of fashion forward, which no one else had done then using industrial techniques. The beauty was taking extremely masculine energies, making them resoundingly feminine, and exalting them through masculine means to create super-women. He is my hero," said Schmidt, who has created looks for Lady Gaga, Cher, Beyonce, Madonna, Dita Von Teese, and more.
One disappointment Brill had was missing the dress made for her by the designer for an anniversary collection. "I had to get up high on a hanging star. I could have died," she said, recalling the platform she was to stand on was about the size of a platter. "The dress was so tight I couldn't bend past my knees in the dress, so to do the costume change, they had a big guy there waiting for me. They laced me into the dress, and I jumped into his arms, and he lifted me up the stairs on the platform," she remembered.
"That dress isn't on display because it's being worn by Kylie Jenner tonight; she is the first person since me to wear the dress," she continued with a laugh alluding to the crystal dress Monroe's sister Kim Kardashian wore to the Met Gala, "First Marilyn, then me."
Downtown with many of the same party guests, Italian firm Buccellati celebrated the worldwide launch of its latest fine jewelry collection, 'Macri Color'.
"This is one of the best-selling collections made in honor of my aunt Maria Cristina. It's been evolving in a more modern trendy way, especially using the colorful stones of blue sapphire, pink sapphire, kunzite, amethyst, and aquamarine," said Lucrezia Buccellati co-creative designer and U.S. brand ambassador, adding, "the story of this collection is the much bigger pieces and its limited editions."
Her father, Andrea Buccellati, creative designer, concurred.
"It's been a long time since we staged a launch in the U.S., one of our strongest markets. The colored stones and our signature engraved metal works perfectly fit the taste of the American client, so we chose New York as the first step of the global launch," said the elder Buccellati, who added he was pleased to see the uptick on Madison Avenue where the firm has a flagship store since his last visit last spring.
"I see now a lot of new stores projects and movement on the avenue, so I see it's coming alive again," he added, noting in 2022, they opened flagship stores in South Coast Plaza and Las Vegas for a total of eight locations.
Guests such as Tina Leung, Talita von Fürstenberg, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, and Sophie Sumner mingled to the sounds of DJ-slash-model Wemi-Mo, taking in the color-filled floral decorated vitrines of jewelry with a backdrop of a film showing artisans at work creating jewelry and a view of the Hudson.
The spectacular view of the river was black save for the long neon "W" on the hotel of the same name in New Jersey. The crowd, however, as the elder Buccellati suggested, in some cases reneged on New York basic black, to sport lovely greens, warm cinnamon tones, and bright whites.
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