John Griffin, founder of Blue Ridge Capital, cut a dashing figure last night as he climbed the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in black tails and white tie.
At the top of the stairs, he shared a laugh with industrialist David Koch, in the same outfit, before heading into the Met’s Costume Institute benefit.
You’d think an American hedge-fund manager would eschew a party with such formal attire. The suggested dress for the Robin Hood Foundation gala next week is “No Black Tie.”
Yet Griffin, who serves on the board of Robin Hood, and other financiers went all-out-penguin last night. Those adhering to the white tie and tails request of Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, who essentially runs the party (and has raised about $125 million for the Costume Institute, which has more than 35,000 garments and accessories), included Howard Marks, co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, Daniel Ziff of Ziff Brothers Investments, and brothers-in-law Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the Federal Reserve, and Eric Zinterhofer, co-founder of Searchlight Capital Partners. They are married to sisters Jane and Aerin Lauder. Aerin Lauder’s firm, Aerin LLC, sponsored the benefit.
Ziff even wore white gloves and a not-too-tall top hat, though Johnny Depp outdid him by carrying a cane.
Blackstone boss Steve Schwarzman wore the tails, waist coat and tie he’s broken in at events in Europe, said his wife, Christine Schwarzman. On his jacket breast, two medals: the Legion d’honneur, bestowed by the French government, and another from the Vatican for his support of scholarships at New York Archdiocese schools.
“It’s the highest medal you can give to a non-Catholic,” said Christine Schwarzman, dressed in Versace. (“You never feel better than when you’re in a Versace dress,” she said, before taking some photographs with Donatella Versace.)
Former Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley wore Ralph Lauren everything with decoration: a starburst pin he bought at A La Vieille Russie some 25 years ago. It proved a conversation piece.
“Did I give you this?” Bravo’s Andy Cohen, who squired Sarah Jessica Parker on the red carpet, joked with Talley, pointing to the pin.
“Love that,” said actor Bradley Cooper, a co-chairman of the gala also in white tie.
Other actors in white tie -- and with British accents making them seem just a bit more dapper in the ensemble -- were Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Eddie Redmayne.
Howard Marks bought new evening dress for the Met Ball. “The last time I wore this outfit was in 1969 to the Quadrille Ball,” he said, lifting his cuff to reveal a vintage Patek Philippe watch. Soon though he deferred to his wife on fashion matters.
The event was built around a new exhibition in space named the Anna Wintour Costume Center, christened yesterday by First Lady Michelle Obama on a morning visit to the museum. There was also dinner, served under chandeliers and at tables decorated with gardenias. The meal was lobster with American caviar, poached chicken with black truffles and wild rice, and Baked Alaska.
The show presents evening gowns of couturier Charles James from the 1940s and 1950s displayed with all their Old World glamour shimmering on the surface. Accompanying videos reveal their ingenious construction underneath.
One notable characteristic is the volume of the skirts.
“Girls could not get pregnant in a Charles James dress,” designer Tom Ford joked.
Which brings us to the women of the party: Pouf was not a requirement. Marissa Mayer, chief executive officer of Yahoo! Inc., had a little lift in her navy gown, while Sarah Jessica Parker in Oscar de la Renta had a lot. Jenna Lyons, creative director of J. Crew, wore a very fresh take on male white tie: a buttoned-up white jacket with plunging neckline, no blouse underneath, and wide-legged gray pants in a soft fabric.
Despite the rather strict “evening dress” dress code that had been issued, sartorial openness was just as much a feature of this year’s gala as it has been as in years past, with themes like punk and AngloMania. After all, the party is run by a woman whose power rests in her willingness to try new things and nurture new designers.
So no men were booted for not adhering to the dress code. Jay Z wore white jacket with black tie, Jake Gyllenhaal wore a white jacket with all black underneath. More extreme: Neil Patrick Harris, the star of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway, in a cropped jacket with tails dusting the ankles, and designer Thom Browne in shorts and white tie.
Some of the richest people ignored the white-tie request, while Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller, and Dan Garodnick, a city councilman, followed it.
“You just do it, it’s good manners,” Ford said.