Playing to the Gallery, Italian Style

The biggest fashion news from the much-heralded and living-up-to-its-billing Giorgio Armani party at the Museum of Contemporary Art: Bob Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minn., showed up wearing an Angora knit hat.

That’s right, Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan, there amid black-tie glitz and the shimmery white setting in MOCA’s South Gallery. (Armani took no chances: He used local talent David Jones to fashion the lush, white tulip centerpieces, but flew in from Milan his own table linens and sweet little quilted chair covers.)

Chatting with the rumpled folk-singer were his tablemates Amy Irving and Steven Spielberg and director Martin Scorsese with his wife, Barbara DeFina. At the next table, a tux-less Richard Gere. “I’ve got one suit with me. Thank God, it’s an Armani,” he said, flashing his label.

And, boy, was there a lot of that label flashing going on. Not from Merv Griffin, who managed to say with a straight face that his tux came from J. C. Penney, insisting to Eva Gabor that the fashion show wouldn’t have anything for “fatties.” But there were certainly famous people in all categories, something for every persona-hungry person.


An Eclectic Crowd

Among the 300 by-invitation-only guests were a couple of studio heads, one expatriate Russian dancer, a movie queen, an Oscar winner, some city councilmen and the state attorney general, some major mavens of press agentry, Kitchen Cabineteers, TV producers--and, yes, even some millionaire collectors of contemporary art.

“I’ve never seen a mix like this,” First Best Friend Betsy Bloomingdale (looking top-notch glamorous) told Armani top gun Lee Radziwill.

The charming Armani (of course, everything sounds better in Italian) made his way table to table with his No. 1 assistant, Gabriella Forte. And, when his boutique opens this summer in Beverly Hills, what will he do to encore this evening? “Nothing, I hope,” he quickly announced. The owner of the Paris Armani boutique, Dreda Mele, chatted with Barbara Sinatra, whose dress had a deep plunge in the back. “I love your back,” Bloomingdale commented as Sinatra squeezed by “Bets” and Martin Manulis.


Around the stripped-of-its-art gallery, the posh were bopping and rocking not to Dylan, but to Peter Duchin. (“If Peter gets any more casual, he’s just not going to even show up,” Doug Cramer quipped from the dance floor.)

Judging the heaviness of the house was easy, since the Armani folks had constructed an amphitheater in the North Gallery to showcase a fashion show of dozens and dozens of the Milan-based designer’s spring and summer fashions before the Spago dinner. A quick swivel of the head brought into view Loretta Young with designer James Galanos, Jerry and Jane Weintraub, Mike Ovitz, collectors Bea and Phil Gersh, Disney’s Mike Eisner and Frank Wells (stopping by on their way to Disney World), Shirley and Isadore Familian, Armani-clad Shirlee Fonda with Craig Johnson, Councilman John and Margaret Ferraro, Atty. Gen. John and Andrea Van de Kamp, Suzanne De Passe and Paul LeMat.

There were artists David Hockney, Butch Kirby and Ed Ruscha, Fred and Joan Nicholas, Nick and Felisa Vanoff and Patti Skouras, Don and Arletta Tronstein, Councilman Joel Wachs and Susan Silver, attorney Howard and Margaret Weitzman, Cheryl Tiegs, photographer Helmut Newton, Jerry Magnin, Dona and Dwight Kendall, Maj and Larry Hagman (toting a silvered evening saddle-bag over his shoulder), MOCA director Richard and Betty Koshalek, New York’s Museum of Modern Art president Don and Katie Marron, (he’s also the president of Paine Webber), and Dr. Harry Glassman with Victoria Principal. Her full-length strapless, very snug Armani had arrived from Milan on Monday--"I’m glad I didn’t lie about my measurements,” she said.

Harriet Deutsch had on a short dress--but, “It was one of the first short ones I bought and now it looks soooo long.” Henry Mancini said the black-on-black Armani tux he was wearing was originally bought for performances. Joan Quinn said she’d had her designer buddy Zandra Rhodes run up a special for the evening--"I had it made in Armani colors--brown and gray.” Her husband, attorney Jack Quinn, explained that their household had received two separate invites to the party, since he had bought Armani in New York “for years.” But there was no way either of their invitations was transferable.

If so, it would have been a ticket of social Super Bowl status--Katie Wagner (daughter of Robert Wagner who was there with Jill St. John) in a ruffled beige dress could have been one of the few young and short-resume people in the place.

Art and Glitz

Museum trustee Eli Broad asked, “What do you think of art being out and glitz being in?” A more than kidding remark, since the art had to be taken from the museum walls, due to insurance requirements.

And, hey, it was a great party. Los Angeles County Museum of Art president Dan Belin came by Jane and Marc Nathanson’s table. “Jane, you can do our parties any time,” he told the evening’s co-chair (who, everyone knows, is MOCA’s captive).