Fashion And Beauty For The Hardcore | Julian Schnabel Goes Formal at the Whitney’s Largest Gala Yet
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Julian Schnabel Goes Formal at the Whitney’s Largest Gala Yet

Keren Craig, Bar Refaeli, and Georgina Chapman The Whitney Museum's Fall Gala

The Whitney is starting to do things on a whole new scale. With a building upgrade (courtesy of Renzo Piano) in the works downtown, the powerhouse museum threw its fall gala off-site for the first time in 20 years, at cavernous Pier 57, and the venue change literally paid off: 600 guests came to the annual fundraising dinner and the total haul, $3.2 million, amounted to the biggest ever. When even Julian Schnabel (who rarely takes off his pj’s at home or out of it) dons a tux, you know there’s a new game afoot.

“It’s Lanvin—I’ve had it forever,” Schnabel told “I usually have pajamas on underneath.” Not tonight. Schnabel wasn’t the only one making an effort, though. Bar Refaeli swanned through the warehouse space in floor-grazing Marchesa, indifferent to the grit. “Since I have to return this dress, I don’t really care,” she shrugged.

Dinner’s backdrop was a commissioned video work by Marilyn Minter, which depicted the letters in “WHITNEY” splashing one at a time, in slow motion, into primal ooze—a mix of vodka and metallic food coloring, trustee Pamella Roland and collector Amy Phelan explained. Minter mentioned that while she was making it, she’d used the crew at her disposal to shoot and star in another short film. “It’s called I’m Not Much, but I’m All I Think About, and it’s all about a self-involved artist—me!” she reported.

The evening’s honoree was the prolific art writer Calvin Tomkins, who, in his acceptance speech, candidly explained his calling: “Artists, really, are more interesting than other people.” As dessert was served and pop-soul act Fitz and the Tantrums performed, the after-party started on the other end of the pier, where mirrors dangled from Japanese and scarlet maples and the likes of Refaeli and Michelle Monaghan danced under three enormous disco balls. “I have not seen three all together like that,” noted Desirée Rogers, detecting a trend. “Maybe the new direction is three disco balls, not one.”

— Darrell Hartman