When you kick off the evening with “Dancing Queen,” it’s like starting at 12.
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The art-, film- and music-filled night attracted a who’s who of Hollywood — and the fashion gave the Met Gala a run for its money, from Julia Garner’s Old Hollywood, serpentine-green beaded Gucci gown to Billie Eilish’s GG cozycore, and Olivia Wilde’s red patent leather opera gloves.
“Aren’t they so cool?” Wilde said, arriving on the arm of a friend instead of beau Harry Styles, who had to cancel an event with Gucci designer Alessandro Michele to celebrate their new “Ha Ha Ha” collection after getting sick earlier in the week.
Gucci muse Jared Leto was impossible to miss, dazzling in a crystal-embellished, plum-colored suit. He was turning the camera around on the evening.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” he said with a point-and-shoot in hand. “Hold it,” he purred.
He had Sydney Sweeney in his sights. “I’m good. How are you?” the actress told him before posing in her blush pink Giambattista Valli couture dress adorned with voluminous floral sleeves.
“Gorgeous,” said Eilish of Sweeney’s ensemble, after wrapping herself with Jesse Rutherford in a giant Gucci blanket for her own photo op.
Stylist B. Akerlund wore an embellished gown by up-and-coming London label Mithridate with a dizzyingly beautiful headpiece by Piers Atkinson. “I’m like an installation,” she said.
Peter Dundas was at the gala for the first time. “I’m wearing myself,” he said of his white tuxedo. His partner Evangelo Bousis was wearing a matching one.
The fundraiser was co-chaired by Leonardo DiCaprio and LACMA board member Eva Chow, and raised more than $5 million, with a crowd that included Maneskin, Blackpink’s Rose, Jodie Turner-Smith, Catherine Opie, Mark Bradford, Idris Elba, Andrew Garfield, George Clinton, Molly Ringwald, Cheech Marin, Chloe Zhao, Sebastian Stan, Bettye Sarr and more.
The honorees were 87-year-old pioneering California Light and Space movement artist Helen Pashgian and South Korean director Park Chan-wook, whose film “Decision to Leave” is the country’s entry into the 2023 Oscars, after he already won the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Who walking up here saw five construction cranes under the moon?” LACMA director Michael Govan asked the crowd as he welcomed them to their dinner tables. “We’re 50 percent done,” he added of the progress on the museum’s massive construction project looming on Wilshire Boulevard, where the new David Geffen Galleries are being built for the permanent collection.
“I’m happy to honor Helen at LACMA, who is an Angeleno through and through,” Govan continued later in the evening, introducing Pashgian and her polished sculptures in epoxy, fiberglass, resin and other aerospace industry materials.
“It’s rare to find an artist who is as comfortable wearing goggles and a respirator as she is in Italian Vogue, or wearing the Gucci dress she’s wearing tonight with Gucci sneakers,” he continued.
A student of Southern California’s light, which has beguiled artists, filmmakers and scientists for eons, Pashgian grappled with it in her speech, concluding, “In the end, this strange light of ours remains what it has always been, elusive, mysterious, unknowable and therein lies its magic.”
“Having my films introduced in the U.S. was beneficial to me, but I daresay it was beneficial to the American audiences because it will enrich your culture, widen your view and inspire you just this much even,” Chan-Wook said in his speech, noting “Decision to Leave” feels like the ultimate summation of his career. “I firmly believe all of us in the world of art are connected beyond the medium, the nation and the time.”
Dinner came courtesy of Gucci Osteria chef Massimo Bottura, and was good enough for even the calorie-conscious crowd to nibble on. But it was running late. Cocktail hour had kicked off at 6 p.m. and the after party was to start at 9 p.m.
By 9:30 it hadn’t, and Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner ducked out, likely heading to celebrate mom Kris Jenner’s 67th birthday. “I’m trying to hold up my skirt,” the platinum-blond Kardashian said earlier of her skin-tight Balenciaga gown, a glossy black number with a sculpted train from Demna’s fall 2022 couture collection.
“Abbott Elementary” creator Quinta Brunson also was struggling to hold up her dress. “His name is Rani Zakhem,” she said of the designer. And the cat-eye sunglasses tucked inside her strapless bustier? “These are my own. I just decided to bring them in case I wanted to be cute and incognito.”
“I love everyone’s Gucci,” Paris Hilton told Heidi Klum as they caught up by a heater. (It was 55 degrees in L.A.) “There are so many good looks.”
A crowd of Europeans and uber-skinny models was also outside, chain smoking and drinking. Salma Hayek mingled nearby. At 10:19 p.m., she was on stage introducing the special musical guest: Sir Elton John.
“There’s a lot of people I know out there so I hope you’re not going to be a tough crowd,” John said to laughs. “I came to L.A. 52 years ago. This was the song that came out,” he said from behind the piano as he began playing the keys to “Your Song.”
“It’s great to be asked to do something for LACMA,” he went on before launching into “Tiny Dancer.” “I’d like to thank Alessandro and Gucci for asking me to do this. Anything for you, baby, OK.”
Michele blushed, surrounded by his cheering Gucci team.
The superstar, who took time off from his Yellow Brick Road tour to close the night, also played “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “Rocketman,” with a shoutout to actor Taron Egerton — who portrayed the music star in the 2019 biopic. “I dedicate the song to someone I really love,” he said of Egerton. “He’s become one of my best friends and I can’t ever thank him enough for what he did for me in the movie.” Before bowing goodbye, he ended the night with “I’m Still Standing.”
“I’ve been after Elton for over 10 years,” said co-chair Chow, reaffirming the cross-cultural tenor of the evening. “We finally got him.”