You could feel the collective sucking of air out of the hallowed Bing Theater at LACMA last night as Ava Garter stripped off her sparkling matador costume before a couple of hundred audience members–mostly members of the museum's Costume Council, which comprises mostly of ladies who get goose bumps at being called a socialite. Not that any one of them would admit they had any trouble with the performance on stage–and, in fact, the ladies and gentlemen who stopped me at the post-lecture soiree were keen to convey how fantastic they thought it all was, even though so-and-so was still getting over the shock. Not them, of course. It wouldn't be cool to admit otherwise. Of course, this was the first time in anyone's memory a woman stripped down to her pasties on the Bing stage, and it was certainly the first time many of the folks ever got such a live and uncensored experience. Thank God it was all in the name of art! How else to come to terms with the nekked figures in paintings and photographs and sculpture on exhibit in the museum halls just a skip away…
The live show followed a truly terrific, educational presentation by Liz Goldwyn and Dita Von Teese (see previous posting for the lowdown). Thought I knew a bit on the topic, but Liz managed to teach us all a thing or two about the costume designers who helped forge the fantasy of the burlesque stars of the past, as well as how those costumes influenced many of the showgirl looks which would appear in Hollywood's early films (including those by her own grandfather). The collection of screened images, many from the private archives of dancers and designers, was just priceless. Next up, she quizzed Dita on everything from her burlesque icons to the custom costumes that John Galliano and Elie Saab are creating for her upcoming performance in February at the legendary Crazy Horse in Paris.
As if all that wasn't enough, in the lobby there was a collection of the beautifully crafted, crystal-encrusted gowns that Catherine D'Lish created for Dita, as well as the custom made heels for most of the looks by her friend Christian Louboutin. That alone was something these rich broads could get breathless over.
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