Normally, when you're the evening's honoree, people in the room take pictures of you, not the other way around. Leave it to Mario Testino to turn the tables. The Peruvian-born photographer's closing statement from the dais at last night's El Museo del Barrio gala was to whip out a camera and take a snapshot. It earned him a huge round of applause. As the many Testino fans and collaborators in the room—including Carine Roitfeld, Donatella Versace, and Narciso Rodriguez—would attest, that's the way it often works.
"He has a way with things, to do whatever he wants," Versace told Style.com, recalling the occasion Testino (who was meeting her for the first time) shot her at her house in Milan and, upon entering, immediately went about rearranging the curtains. "We know that he will talk us into doing absolutely anything for him," Kate Winslet said in her introduction. "When Mario turns to you and says, 'It's beautiful, but I think it would be better naked, no?'—I wonder, how can one refuse?"
In addition to the gala's usual cadre of Spanish-speaking notables, this year's edition drew an extra contingent of models, including Joan Smalls, who owes her first feature in American Vogue to Testino, and Candice Swanepoel, who shot a Versace fragrance campaign with him a couple of weeks ago.
What's his secret? During his acceptance speech, Testino gamely shared one of them. "People think it's funny that I do castings for assistants," he said. "But I think it's very important to have good-looking people, because then the girls feel they are beautiful. And I feel that way, too, when they're carrying everything behind me." Including, of course, the latest piece of congratulatory hardware. But why shouldn't Testino be handing off awards to his attractive adjuncts? As Crystal Renn put it, "He makes you believe the dream."
In the nineties, when supermodels reigned supreme, there was no bigger name in face-painting than François Nars. "There was a lot of spirit—and that confidence carries over," original CK One model Jenny Shimizu recalled of the era's stars last night at a party to celebrate Nars' latest achievement. That would be Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself, the makeup maestro's new photography-meets-beauty book.
The new tome, a sequel to the 2001 debut of the same name, is similar in concept to the first; there are before-and-after shots with an acetate insert between the two detailing exactly where makeup was applied. But the 2.0 edition features a little twist in the form of 60 street-cast "models," rather than actual catwalkers. "The first book was models, the second was non-famous people, and there will be a third," Nars explained. "It's more like a trilogy. I always had in my mind that it would be three books."
The oversize volume is also chock-full of application tips, a few of which Alexa Chung has gleaned since starting out in the biz. "Little corner eyelashes make everyone look great," the It girl said before extolling the virtues of her signature black cat-eye. "When I started doing TV, they did a sixties eye and I thought, oh, sick, I'm going to start doing this every day, forever—to a point where a friend asked me the other day, is that a tattoo?" It's not. "I do wash my face," she swears. Chung has never had the pleasure of sitting in Nars' chair, but that could change with Makeup Your Mind's next installment. "The third one will be all celebrities," Nars revealed. Color us excited.
Party-hopping for the art-and-fashion crowd last night was almost too easy, with the Whitney Museum's annual spring bash going down a door over from the vernissage of
Open at Milk Gallery. A 20-year retrospective of the Dazed & Confused co-founder's photographic oeuvre, the exhibition puts celebrity portraits (David Bowie, Kate Moss, Queen Elizabeth) next to shots of painted nether regions and close-ups of eyes and lips—a body of work, so to speak, that's had no small influence on modern fashion imagery. In an acknowledgement of sorts to our present era, Rankin is shooting select paying civilians at Milk next week, with proceeds going to Oxfam, and adding their portraits to the show. "In this day and age, no one's an amateur," Rankin said, referring to both sides of the camera. Then he went off and, in front of a photo of a chocolate-dipped nude
posed for pictures with the supermodel herself.
Mere paces down 15th Street, the Whitney and its devotees had good reason to celebrate: Earlier in the day, the museum had broken ground on its new building in the Meatpacking District. Bronson Van Wyck's event design played up the construction motif, with walls left raw and vines draped over scaffolding. Eddie Borgo and Shala Monroque co-chaired—as did Amar'e Stoudemire, from a roped-off area in the corner. The Knicks star looked far too comfortable to go do any bidding in the silent auction, which featured works by the likes of Tauba Auerbach and Casey Neistat. "I shop in a different sort of way. I like to go into an art gallery and describe what I want," Stoudemire explained. Just back from L.A., meanwhile, were Ruffian's Brian Wolk and Claude Morais. "We hung out with a Disney star, Kelsey Chow, who showed us the lighter side of Hollywood," Wolk reported. As for the heavier side? "Mr. Schwarzenegger was unavailable."
It would be pretty cheap to summarize last night's Cinema Society party for The Hangover Part II by saying, well, it's all a blur. But what the hell, let's try this Hangover-style: The last thing we remember clearly is the screening of the new film at the Landmark Theatre on the Lower East Side. So far, so funny—Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis reunite for yet-more-outré high jinks, in Bangkok this time, and with a monkey instead of a tiger. Then the scene moved to the Top of the Standard. It was raining, and a vision of James Van Der Beek clinking glasses with a nattily dressed Cooper emerges from the haze. Hey! Olivia Wilde was there, too. And Zach Braff, who, when asked which part in the Hangover series he might like to have played, replied, "Any part, as long as I got to act with Galifianakis, because that dude is fucking hilarious."
OK, enough with the "what happened last night?" conceit. Even Hangover director Todd Phillips, who was hunkered down in the corner sipping drinks with China Chow, figures that, if there's ever a third Hangover movie, he'll have to find another way to get his musketeers in and out of trouble. "I'm not sure there'll be another movie; it's totally undecided," Phillips said. "But if we do go for it, it'll be structured differently." After all, how much can three guys forget? "Yeah, exactly," said Phillips.
School's in session! Professors Marina Abramovic and Terence Koh took the podium during a dinner at MoMA last night for a lengthy slide lecture on the Volkswagen and its place in art history. For a student body that included, for the evening, Madonna, Mary-Kate Olsen, Yoko Ono, James Franco, and Lou Reed, Abramovic gave her interpretation and then Koh gave his. (His, interpret how you will, was expressed in a made-up language of his own.) Slide after slide revolved through the projector: The VW Beetle in the work of Francis Alÿs (the subject, not coincidentally, of an exhibition on the sixth floor), the VW Beetle in the work of Chris Burden, the VW Beetle everywhere. Abramovic and Koh's double act had an off-kilter quality that seemed to sum up the evening, part infomercial, part performance art. But then, as Volkswagen's Carsten Krebs pointed out, "It's not only a car. At the end of the day, the Beetle is art." And sure enough, it's one of the few automobiles in the MoMA's permanent design collection.
After dinner, which also included performances by the gender-bending violinist Hahn-Bin (warmly received by Madonna) and Martha Wainwright, school was out: The guests dispersed to the museum's atrium, where James Murphy, late of the recently disbanded LCD Soundsystem, spun tunes and artists and patrons mingled. The celebration honored the museum and the carmaker's new partnership, which finds the German company supporting MoMA's exhibitions, education programs, and in particular, its famous sculpture garden, where legions of umbrella-bearing attendants shielded attendees from the rain. Volkswagen's fellow artisan-in-metal, Eddie Borgo, had sat with a company man at dinner and been favorably impressed—not only by its autos, but also by its healthcare system. ("I was like, can you please talk to somebody while you're here?" he said.) Chloë Sevigny, meanwhile, was sticking with the automotive theme. The Opening Ceremony-clad actress said she'll be attending the Indy 500 this weekend.
Rei Kawakubo and her business partner and husband, Adrian Joffe, made a rare appearance at their New York Comme des Garçons store on Saturday night—their first in five or six years—to fête the designer's collaboration with Matt Groening. That's Matt Groening of 400-episodes-and-counting Simpsons fame, but it was his more obscure, underground project, Life in Hell, that Kawakubo took an interest in. Naturally. As Joffe put it, "I knew about The Simpsons and Futurama, but when I discovered Life in Hell, I told Rei about it, because [as a fashion designer] your life is hell; to do a new collection every six months is hell."
If Kawakubo and co. took particular relish in scheduling the launch of the project on the day the Rapture was supposed to take place, they weren't talking. Anyway, there's nothing infernal about the results of the collaboration. On the contrary, some partygoers bought stacks of the $125 black and white T-shirts featuring the comic strip's protagonists Binky and Sheba, then queued up to have them signed by Groening. Others just seemed happy to be in the presence of the notoriously shy Kawakubo. We saw plenty of acolytes in new and vintage Comme des Garçons in the crowd, but for the record, nobody asked the designer, who wore a leather shoulder brace from her Spring 2010 show over her all-black ensemble, for her autograph.
"I was in Tokyo and she asked me to tea," Groening explained of his first meeting with Kawakubo. "I knew of her; I knew how surprising her choices are. If I were an avant-garde Japanese fashion designer, she's who I'd want to be."
Andrew Saffir's Cinema Society rolled out the red carpet last night for a screening of Submarine, Richard Ayoade's English-language remake of the epic German war film Das Boot. Kidding! Ayoade's flick is in fact a tender, artfully made tale of adolescent angst, based on the book of the same name by Joe Dunthorne. Audience members included directors such as Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale), Amy Heckerling (Clueless), and Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), not to mention Jason Schwartzman. The latter, of course, came to fame in Rushmore, making the screening at the Landmark Cinema on the Lower East Side something of a convention for people involved in seminal coming-of-age pics. (The ghost of John Hughes hovered nearby, one assumes.)
"I wouldn't, er, presume to put myself in their league," demurred Ayoade, very English-ly, at the after-party at the Vault. "I just hope people liked the movie." Apparently, Submarine executive producer Ben Stiller was exaggerating a bit when he introduced Ayoade, who's known in Britain for his role on the sitcom The IT Crowd, as "one of the greatest self-promoters" the world has ever seen. "We call him 'The Mouth,' " Stiller jibed. Ayoade just blushed, and let the movie speak for itself.