The height of chic remains lensman William Claxton and muse Peggy Moffitt, who marked their 80th and 70th birthdays, respectively, with a jazzy celebration this weekend hosted by Benedict and Lauren Taschen, completely filling Dominick’s in West L.A.
With pals Burt Bacharach and vintage guru Cameron Silver, art pioneer Irving Blum and Phoenix Art Museum curator Denita Sewell, this was one swellegant entry for the books. Platters of oysters kicked off the family-style supper, and a jazz quartet kept the mood pulsing, inspiring a still foxy Stefanie Powers (that’s right, Mrs. Hart to Hart) to rise up and share a song.
Wed since 1960, and together two years before that, these two living icons unequivocally changed the way we all think of the birth of cool—from Bill’s indelible photographs of jazz greats Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Billy Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie and many others, to Peggy’s signature kabuki-styled makeup and severe Vidal Sassoon hair cuts which defined the 1960s look and still looks as fierce as ever.
A third innovator to this team, of course, was designer Rudi Gernreich. The vision of his futuristic clothes was purely realized by Peggy’s theatrical poses and Bill’s graphic eye. An enormous marble birthday cake featuring a doll-like figure of Bill pointing his camera at one of his famous pics of Peggy, striking a pose in Rudi’s cloche and smock, said it all.
Bill, of course, hasn’t exactly retired despite his years. A new generation of musicians and actors have been lining up to get their moment in front of his lens, thanks in part to the Taschens, who’ve published new volumes of Bill's work and re-issued the now collectible book of his Steve McQueen snapshots from the ’60s. Their dapper son Christopher Claxton keeps careful custody of the archives.
Both Bill and Peggy continue to make the rounds, when it matters, sitting at Karl Lagerfeld’s table when he was in L.A. earlier this summer or hitting a cocktail fete for a friend. They always cut an inspiring profile, and always give good talk. We want to be them when we grow up.
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