The Italians use the word “dolce” as the adjective for sweet, gentle, or pleasant – and the Fine Arts’ Museum’s MidWinter Gala was precisely that. The annual shindig, much beloved by the soigne set, started as a party for the newly formed Junior Committee to engage younger philanthropists in the work of the deYoung and Legion of Honor. The party has grown up along with the guest list, and is now one of the most coveted invitations of the social season, and certainly one of the most elegant. This year’s event, held at the Legion of Honor, had the added allure of being underwritten by Dolce & Gabbana, newly arrived in Union Square and already a destination. Even more alluring was the unanticipated attendance of Dominico Dolce himself, the sweet, gentle, pleasant and very talented gentleman who is half of the designing duo. After cocktails in the neoclassical foyer, guests retired to the tented courtyard of the museum, transformed by the Dolce putti into a sumptuous Sicilian seraglio. Burgundy velvet draped the ceilings, lit by crystal chandeliers and copious candlelight. Tables were laden with embroidered cloths, colored glassware, and an abundance of full-blown roses and fragrant lilies spilling out of crystal bowls and silver candelabra. The effect was precisely the sultry, sexy, slightly louche impression that one wants from wearing Dolce & Gabbana, and one certainly wants from a fabulous party. Many of the women had ordered Spring collections gowns from the designer, and nearly all were alla moda in sparkling and sylphlike frocks, set off by the dashing tuxedoed signiori. Dolce & Gabbana ensured that model Devon Aoki and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke were sumptuously attired, and the pulchritude was palpable.
An indulgent southern Italian dinner was served by McCall’s able staff: caprese salad, an addictive penne al pomodoro, roasted seabass with caponata, tiramaisu, espresso truffles, and (take the) cannoli. The Hess Collection provided Small Block series Albarino and Syrah, which were quaffed in anticipation of the live auction, expertly conducted by Brook Hazelton, President of Christie’s, Americas. A Tomales Oyster Feast, a Dinner Party at the Museum, A Hess Collection Tasting all were enthusiastically bid upon, but the chance to attend the Dolce & Gabbana Fall Women’s fashion show in Milan was the golden ticket. A DJ mixing dance music had to compete with the relentless circulation of conversation and collusion – with 350 notable guests and half as many gowns to admire, the diversions were many. While Dolce kindly smiled for a number of trophy selfies – social media was as alive as the party itself – the music played, the bartenders mixed, the tables glowed – and the evening drifted down to a sweet, gentle, and very pleasant conclusion like the petals on a full-blown rose.
And who was sweet on whom? Committee Chairs Kathryn Lasater and Allison Speer performed their duties with elegant aplomb, while Honorary Chairs Vanessa Getty and