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Celebrities turn out for opening gala of 'Beauty Culture' at the Annenberg Space for Photography

May 21, 2011 |  7:05 am


“Ugh!” shrieked Ali Larter upon seeing a photograph of a bony model falling as she walked down a runway in a pair of impossibly high platform shoes, the model’s knees buckling in a way that made her look almost like a sideshow contortionist. “I have like a gag reflex to this,” she said. The actress’ reaction to the image, taken by Lauren Greenfield during a Jason Wu fashion show, was just one in a variety of SK1_1611 responses from the many celebrities, models, photographers and artists who came out to see the hundreds of images focusing on society’s perception of beauty during the opening gala of the "Beauty Culture" exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography.

SK1_2940 Beauties such as Halle Berry, Katie Holmes, Gisele Bundchen, Emmy Rossum and Sophia Bush turned up to the gala held Thursday night. So did many notable photographers,including  Matthew Rolston, Melvin Sokolsky, Tyen, Paul Lange and Rasmus Mogensen, who all have work featured in the exhibit.

The show includes more than 175 prints that hang on the walls of the Century City building, as well as nearly 500 images shown in a documentary by Greenfield which runs on a loop in the center of the space.


Images from the gorgeous -- a makeup free and naturally lighted portrait of Bundchen -- to the grotesque – a tummy tuck in process – are presented. They are meant to raise discussion over what we deem  beautiful and the measures many people take to achieve it. It's a topic with which many of the actresses, models and many other women are quite familiar. SK1_1825

SK1_1447 “I don’t really think about it,” said Bush referring to the pressures placed on women, particularly in the entertainment industry, to be beautiful. The actress, clad in a plaid, form-fitting Z Spoke by Zac Posen dress, said she grew up assisting her fashion and beauty photographer father and was exposed to the process of making a pretty picture at a young age. But that doesn’t mean she’s totally jaded. “I got to meet [model] Alek Wek tonight!” she said. “Very rarely am I star struck, but I’ve liked her since the first time I saw a picture of her in a magazine. After talking to her and learning her story, I realize that she’s as beautiful inside as she is outside.”

SK1_2242 Also in attendance was celebrity makeup artist Patti Dubroff, who is responsible for taking actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts from bare faced to flawless all with her signature light-handed approach. "The images are so amazing,” said Dubroff, who knows the behind-the-scenes preparation involved in creating a pretty picture or appearance. “I mean, that picture of Gisele ... natural is beautiful.”

In a tent set up between the Annenberg space and the CAA    building, guests mingled in typical after-party fashion, but discussion about the effect of the exhibit was audible and most people seemed bowled over by the subject matter and images. “I think it’s so great we’re celebrating so many different perspectives on what is beautiful,” Bush said. The crowd itself, from Bundchen and Berry to Peggy Moffitt and Daryl Hannah, represented a wide swath of various types of beauty. And it was refreshing to see different definitions of what is beautiful -- and eye-opening to be presented with the extremes we go to in our quest for it.

Read more about the exhibit here.

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Top photos: Gisele Bundchen, left, Katie Holmes and Halle Berry at the opening gala for "Beauty Culture" at the Annenberg Space for Photography. Credit: Stefanie Keenan / WireImage

Middle photo, right: Wallis Annenberg, left, and Lauren Greenfield. Credit: Stefanie Keenan / WireImage

Middle photo, left: Darryl Hannah, left, and Sophia Bush. Credit: Stefanie Keenan / WireImage

Photo: Jamie Lee Curtis. Credit: Stefanie Keenan / WireImage

Photo: Inside the "Beauty Culture" exhibit. Credit: Stefanie Keenan / WireImage

Bottom photo: Model Alek Wek. Credit: Stefanie Keenan / WireImage