Art of Elysium gala brings heaven to Earth at Union Station
Not all the red-carpet action this weekend was Golden Globes-related. The Art of Elysium's fifth annual Heaven gala brought a who's who of the L.A. fashion world to Union Station on Saturday night to celebrate the organization of actors, artists and designers who donate their time to host art programs for children battling serious illnesses.
The nonprofit organization uses the annual event to bestow a pair of awards, and this year's honorees were actor Elijah Wood (receiving the Spirit of Elysium award whose past recipients include Eva Mendes, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco) and Cameron Silver, founder and co-owner of the Decades vintage boutique, who received the Visionary award.
An added perk for visionary is the chance to create their own version of heaven on Earth (last year's recipient was musician Mark Mothersbaugh, who brought a futuristic heaven to the California Science Center; the year before that artist Shepard Fairey created his version in the parking lot of the former Robinsons-May department store in Beverly Hills).
Silver's vision of heaven started with cocktail hour on one side of the Art Moderne building. Beau Joie champagne was served in old-fashioned coupes as the Johnny Crawford Orchestra entertained the crowd with American standards. Guests crossed through the main hall of the train station to get to the dinner, dodging rail travelers and gazing at the soaring Mission Revival ceilings above them.
There was also a little slice of heaven on a plate for gastronomes in attendance; dinner was frisee lardons, followed by short rib Bourguignon, and finished with caramel pot de creme, all from Wolfgang Puck Catering. And if that failed to do the trick, a fleet of Fatburger trucks lined the sidewalk in front of Union Station.
The evening continued with a runway show of fashions from the 1920s to today (captured by a film crew for an upcoming reality show centering on the vintage clothing impresario) and a performance by Estelle.
"My goal was to fuse old and new Hollywood, and have the event feel like the West Coast version of New York's Costume Institute gala," said Silver, who has been volunteering with the Art of Elysium for five years, hosting programs at his boutique for children to learn about the history of fashion. "For children who have life-threatening medical conditions, art is both healing and a means of escapism," he said. "It's part of the process of getting better."
Silver was happy to see the fashion community come out in force to support the event (folks from Chanel and Richemont bought tables), along with the entertainment and art worlds.
Among the notables in attendance were Molly Sims and husband Scott Stuber, artist Christopher Cuseo, actress Minka Kelly in chartreuse Oscar de la Renta, and Amber Heard (channeling her best inner Marilyn Monroe in a gold, metallic body-hugging Donna Karan dress) -- and that was just at our table alone.
We chatted with Los Angeles designer Juan Carlos Obando, who told us he's "planning something big" during the upcoming New York Fashion Week. "Sometimes you do a show for business, and sometimes you just do it for fun," he told us. "This one is going to be for fun." His collection is inspired by the Salton Sea, he said, in particular the feeling of "tension" he felt visiting the area. Can't wait to see that!
Jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino was also there, wearing arms full of crystal bangles from her collection. Her husband, Alfonso Campos, was making his own fashion statement in a tuxedo shirt with an eyelet bib that he scored for $3 at a thrift store in Palm Springs. Fashion designer David Meister was so taken with the shirt, he threatened to "rip it off" so he could wear it himself. Silver's business partner Christos Garkinos also looked stylish in a John Richmond tuxedo with silvery embroidery on the lapels.
We also caught up with L.A. fashion designer Amber Sakai and her husband. Instead of wearing one of her own designs, she was wearing a white Yves Saint Laurent jumpsuit that her husband, producer Richard Sakai, spotted in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue. A man with great taste.
Among the other fashion-forward bold-faced names in attendance were stylist Johnny Wujek (who works with Katy Perry), Rose McGowan in a Grecian-looking white Alice Temperley gown, Kirsten Dunst in a black Valentino gown with sheery sleeves, and Rachel Bilson wearing a soft, mint green Chanel confection.
Of course, Cameron Silver's version of heaven included an after-party -- complete with buff, bare-chested "go-go boys" clad in gold lame hot pants grinding out dance numbers on the bar while Art Deco ice sculptures melted in the background.
"The pressure's on for next year's visionary," Silver joked.
-- Booth Moore and Adam Tschorn
Photos: At top, attendees at the 2012 Art of Elysium annual Heaven gala included, from left, recipient of the Visionary honor Cameron Silver (credit: John Shearer/Getty Images), designer Tarina Tarantino (credit: Valerie Macon/Getty Images), Spirit of Elysium honoree Elijah Wood (credit: John Shearer/Getty Images) and Molly Sims (credit: Valerie Macon/Getty Images).
Lower photos, left to right, Rachel Bilson in Chanel (credit: John Shearer/Getty Images), Amber Heard in Donna Karan (credit: John Shearer/Getty Images); Minka Kelly (credit: Valerie Macon/Getty Images); Kirsten Dunst in Valentino (credit: John Shearer/Getty Images).