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Alexander McQueen exhibition feted in L.A.

June 10, 2011 | 11:03 am

Casden The famous bumster pants were the most difficult item for curators to track down for the spectacular "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. And the low riders, which McQueen showed in 1995, were actually borrowed from an Angeleno, a woman named Mira Chai Hyde, who was one of McQueen's roommates in London in his early days as a designer, and later relocated to L.A. to become a spiritualist.

That was just one of several juicy nuggets revealed on Wednesday night, when the celebration of the blockbuster museum show moved West. Friends of the Costume Institute donors Susan Casden and Cameron Silver hosted a dinner to honor the exhibition's curator Andrew Bolton, at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Guests included James Galanos, Peggy Moffitt, Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, fashion consultant Anne Crawford, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Costume Council President Joni Smith, and artist Kimberly Brooks. Many guests wore McQueen: Casden (left) a dress with gold armor-like detail at the neckline, Brooks a spectacular cape that could have been a relic from the Raj, and Silver a silk jacket in a fiery-looking print, from the upcoming fall collection.

After nibbling on Polo Lounge favorites (tortilla soup, McCarthy salad and fried chicken), Bolton thanked guests for coming, and an impromptu question and answer session began.

Bolton said that he has been surprised at how men have responded to the exhibition, which has drawn more than 250,000 visitors, setting a museum record and prompting an extension of the closing date to Aug. 7.

"Men aren't seeing it as fashion, they are seeing it as art, he said. "I heard one guy in the exhibition say about McQueen, 'He's like the Jack Kerouac of fashion.'"Silver

Harold Koda, chief curator of the museum's Costume Institute, remarked that although McQueen has often been labeled a misogynist because he showed women in hobbling shoes and garish makeup, the designer was really just motivated by creative impulses. "Women just happened to be the vehicle for his artistic expression."

Bolton said that he had hoped the exhibition would tour, but guessed it would instead pave the way for future shows that would explore McQueen's influence in a different context.

I got a chance to catch up with other guests, including Brooks, who is following up her series of paintings of L.A.'s style setters, with a New York counterpart, and the Mulleavy sisters, who are getting ready to travel to Florence. They are this year's guest designers, invited to show at the Pitti trade show along with L.A.'s Band of Outsiders.

It will be their first time in Italy, Kate Mulleavy said, and they are looking forward to seeing lots of art and architecture.

Lately, the sisters have been doing their traveling closer to home. They recently visited Las Vegas, where they were taken with the Art Deco beauty of the Hoover Dam, as well as the weirdness of the Atomic Testing Museum.

Rodarte "They had a casino out there at the atomic testing site, with cocktail waitresses in mushroom cloud skirts, and they organized picnics for guests to watch the explosions," Mulleavy said.

I can't wait to see how those experiences weave their way into the Rodarte collections. Come to think of it, mushroom clouds sound like something that would have fascinated McQueen too.

-- Booth Moore

Photos top to bottom: Susan Casden and Andrew Bolton; Cameron Silver (left) and Jeff Snyder; Rodarte designers Laura (left) and Kate Mulleavy. Credit: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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