From his cat Choupette, to the pomp and circumstance of the 18th-century French court, to Tina Chow, the bewitching model and nightlife fixture of the 1980s, Karl Lagerfeld’s inspirations varied widely throughout his decades-long career. So when it came time to throw the Last Friday in April (the Met Gala pre-party the Friday before the first Monday in May), there was really only one place to do it—Mr. Chow on East 57th Street. (Tina was the fiery wife of the restaurateur Michael Chow, a.k.a. Mr. Chow.) Lagerfeld loved a creative reference, after all.
It was hosted by Chioma Nnadi, editor of Vogue.com, and Mark Guiducci, Vogue's creative editorial director, who requested their guests turn up “Clutching Your Pearls.” And so, at 8 p.m. last night, a sea of be-pearled guests made their way to Manhattan’s East Side to toast the late Lagerfeld ahead of his big day.
Interpretations of the theme ran the gamut. Camila Morrone arrived early, with pearls adorning her neck and swags of them draped at the small of her back. Paloma Elsesser opted for an understated ribbed white tank with flapper-esque loops of knotted pearls. Ashley Graham preferred her pearls on a bedazzled clutch, and Collina Strada designer Hillary Taymour wore pearls as a belt, arriving with model Jazzelle, who wore them as pasties. Nnadi, meanwhile, went for a vintage Karl Lagerfeld pearl choker paired with a Vaquera top, as Guiducci donned Mikimoto’s fine jewelry to festoon his look.
Inside the storied dining room, beneath Richard Smith’s crimson mobile (one of many artworks on site), the party unfolded, with bowtied waiters passing around trays stacked with skewers of Mr. Chow’s chicken satay while over at the bar Tequila Don Julio Rosado cocktails were being made. Karen Elson shimmied through the crowd; Carolina Herrera designer Wes Gordon sipped martinis with Ivy Getty (in a sheer and pearly Givenchy mini); and Michaela Coel (giving Grace Jones with her look) could be spotted on the dance floor with Richie Shazam. More bold-faced guests included director Baz Luhrmann, artist Chloe Wise, and dancer Harrison Ball (on the arm of his husband, designer Zac Posen).
“Everyone keeps on asking me if I’m nervous. Should I be?” joked Derek Blasberg, who is one of the four hosts for this year’s Met Gala livestream, alongside La La Anthony, Chloe Fineman, and Emma Chamberlain. “It’s going to be epic!” said Jordan Roth, who never fails to deliver a fashion moment, of his Met Gala ensemble. (His look last night consisted of coordinating pancake hats with designer Harris Reed.) Other guests also dished on their red carpet ensembles, but those will just have to remain a secret until Monday.
At one point in the night, waiters swapped serving cocktails for handing out black fans—a nod to one of Lagerfeld’s favorite accessories, as omnipresent at his public appearance in the 1980s as his white powdered hair was later in life. Guests plucked them off trays, and no matter the individual, their look was instantly taken to the next level. Lagerfeld was on to something.
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