The art of parties and beyond

Chanel Mobile Art, Karl Lagerfeld, Zaha Hadid

Oct. 21: Whether you thought the Chanel Contemporary Art Container, conceived by Karl Lagerfeld and designed by Zaha Hadid, was brilliant or banal, your opinion was of little consequence at the launch party in Central Park. Because if you were seeing the mobile museum for the first time—and if you were only going see it in Manhattan—well, you were about to be one-upped by your fellow party guest.

"I saw it in Tokyo," said one wag in line. "I'll see it in London," said another. Then, as only he could, photographer Todd Eberle trumped with, "I shot Karl and Zaha in the container in Hong Kong for Vanity Fair."

Right, pass the champers—which on this blustery evening (a brisk 48 degrees that felt like 38) stayed perfectly chilled, especially for outdoor-lounging guests such as Fran Lebowitz. Wise women threw fur on, as Glenda Bailey did, over a navy tweed Chanel suit. But this stage-friendly crowd, including Agyness Deyn, The Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr. and Leigh Lezark, paid little mind to the weather.

For those cowed by the cold, Chanel's futuristic fun park for adults had loads of warmer places to play. At the heart of it all was the art container, of course, which is stopping in New York on a six-city, two-year tour. Nestled in a copse of trees near Rumsey Playfield, it looks like an alien craft guided with radar tuned to only the hottest spots on the globe. Inside is the work of nineteen artists commissioned to find inspiration in the classic Chanel 2.55 bag. Overly commercial or not, the effort has a cult-like quality that Olafur Eliasson's waterfalls didn't quite manage. 

After a spin through the art and architecture, guests could enter a temporary cube containing the promised "light supper and live performance," including lobster salad and beef tortellini, followed by a large helping of Hercules and Love Affair. But before the band started up, DJ Michel Gaubert mixed, as he told me, "trance, European-space experience—a New York, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow time warp."

Outside, models Arlenis Sosa, Raquel Zimmerman, Freja Beha and Luca Gajdus mingled with art-world types like Jeff Koons, Bjorn Ressle and Kenny Schachter. Meanwhile, with the air of Captain Picard surveying the USS Enterprise, Karl Lagerfeld himself took a tour—calm, proud and ready to fight the dullness of our time with a cosmic belief in the future.

—Pia Catton

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