The Costume Institute Gala is always fascinating from start to end, invariably providing fabulous and dazzling paparazzi close-ups of models and fashion personalities under terminal stress. I find it difficult to explain why this event intrigues me so much but it clearly has something to do with the climactic and absurd number of A list fashion characters yearning for approval, all under the same roof. A huge fashion VIP enclosure (and me with my nose pressed against the glass)!
It’s a finely calibrated production that sends Internet fashion journalism and competitive gossip mongering into frenzy. This year’s closely monitored drama unfolded when Kiefer Sutherland allegedly head-butted Jack McCollough, one half of the Proenza Schouler fashion design team. What is wrong with Jack Bauer?
This year’s theme is particularly engaging, more accessible and possibly even capable of reaching a new public: “Models as Muse”. The show explores the relationship between high fashion and models from post World War 2 haute couture to grunge and minimalism. It stages a comprehensive spectacle of versatile beauties merging with powerful and imaginative designs to form arresting images.
So far, so good. Highly enjoyable contemplations of fashion talents. But what I find interesting is the concept of the “muse”. In my experience, these mythical infatuations are now redundant and relegated to the dusty vaults of fashion history. This is probably a rather debatable topic but I do feel that since the demise of the 80s supermodel the fashion industry always seems ready for the wild promise of the next “muse”, an unrealized ambition, the grail they’re all seeking.
Kate Moss has been hailed by common consensus as the ultimate muse, admired even by her opponents, and emerging from public drug fuelled disasters with her reputation enhanced. Her appearance at the Costume Institute Gala as a co-chair reminded me of a thinly veiled caricature of Gloria Swanson in Hollywood Boulevard. A satirical bite. Like the aging and scary film goddess on screen, Kate Moss looked decadent and decaying. She allegedly described herself to Cathy Horyn as the faded Norma Desmond, showing a strange willingness to evoke the glamour and ruin of stars who subsist on the dream of a comeback. Sinister or self-deprecating humour? Just like the main character in the Hollywood masterpiece, I thought she looked washed-up, still clinging to life while new young Eastern European models take centre stage.
Too much makeup, too much blusher, too much bronzer, too much gold lame.
All pictures courtesy of Just Jared