The 750-strong at the Costume Institute's party at the Met came away humming from the gardenia-glutted, topiary-cluttered scenery.

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Vanessa Paradis in Chanel.

Photo By WWD Staff

Can the multitude, 750-strong, at the Costume Institute’s party of the year at the Metropolitan Museum say they came away humming from the gardenia-glutted, topiary-cluttered scenery? Of course they can. The museum was as verdant and beautiful as a summer bal à Versailles and as fragrant as the perfume of the same name.

I looked at the wilted gardenia I had brought home from the party, once so fresh and pristine, now curling brown at the edges. I smelled it. It was still redolent with an intoxicating scent. Maybe that’s the idea of these annual extravaganzas. The party’s over, but the fragrance lingers on.

The fete was a paean to the house of Chanel, celebrating the original Coco and her successor, Karl Lagerfeld. He was there in the flesh — now not as much as there once was (don’t tell me you haven’t heard of his famous diet?). This is the way he was dressed: His knee-high patent leather boots boasted military heels, the equestrian-themed jacket he so favored was worn with a high stiff-collared white shirt and a tiny black tie and — did you ever? — he wore fingerless, silver leather gloves. And that’s not all. A long diamond snake was pinned to his lapel and his trademark white powdered hair was pulled back as ever into his famous neat ponytail. It was all Karl, all the time.

That flowery introduction out of the way, let’s get on with it. Naturally there was more than one snob in the room who remarked, “This party is so enormous and crowded. Not anything like the way I remembered it when Diana Vreeland and Pat Buckley ran the show. There are so many people here it’s hard to tell the wheat from the chaff.” Not for me it isn’t.

Anyhow, Nicole Kidman was in the receiving line with Karl and Anna Wintour, all co-chairs. Nicole had poured herself into a midnight blue, strapless Chanel column made especially for her by Karl. Blue paillettes ran along the edges, down the middle and trimming her pockets. There was no way you could miss her. Anna wore a white satin Chanel dress and jacket embroidered with glittering crystal camellias. Although Anna chose not to wear her trademark glasses, Karl either borrowed hers or wore his own.
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