There were pro-Israel protesters outside and the red carpet was a no-interview zone, but the LACMA Art + Film Gala went on Saturday night, raising crucial funds for the Los Angeles museum, and further raising the profile of fashion brand sponsor Gucci.
The 12th annual event was the starriest party that striking Hollywood has seen in months, drawing Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Rosé, A$AP Rocky, Billie Eilish, Pedro Pascal, François-Henri Pinault, Salma Hayek Pinault, Jane Fonda, Jon Hamm, Keanu Reeves, Leonardo DiCaprio, Yara Shahidi and dozens more celebs; and from the art world, Betye Saar, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie, Helen Pashgian and Kenny Scharf, among many more.
The evening honored Los Angeles artist Judy Baca and filmmaker David Fincher, with Pitt delivering a carefully worded introduction to his director in “Fight Club,” “Seven” and other films, so as to comply with SAG-AFTRA striking rules.
The event was also the Hollywood coming out for new Gucci creative director Sabato De Sarno, who took the opportunity to launch his first Ancora Notte eveningwear and menswear on several of the night’s VIPs and a gaggle of models who stood heads and shoulders above everyone else.
“It’s a big moment. No pressure,” De Sarno laughed when asked earlier in the weekend about dressing so many stars.
De Sarno has spent the week getting to know some of them, including Miley Cyrus, hiking with her to the Hollywood sign to shoot the next Gucci fragrance campaign.
“My first time here with my husband about nine years ago, I hated L.A. because I was looking for a square, a center like a European city. But then I really fell in love. Now we love to do the touristy things,” he said, noting that he biked on the Venice boardwalk.
Co-chair Eva Chow wore a white column gown with crystal accents that was one of De Sarno’s new designs, while Kirsten Dunst debuted a white minidress dotted with crystal embroideries inspired by ’50s archival pieces, and Jesse Plemons wore De Sarno’s ’90s-revived straight-fit tuxedo with round interlocking G buttons.
“I love the new Gucci,” Dunst said. Daisy Edgar Jones echoed the sentiment, pointing out how fun and unpretentious De Sarno is. “Every event I have been to with him has started with tequila shots!”
“Killers of the Flower Moon” star Lily Gladstone accessorized her flowing red Gucci gown with earrings by Jamie Okuma, who made history as the first Native designer to be admitted to the Council of Fashion Designers of America. “I wear her all the time,” said Gladstone, who is of Blackfeet and Nimiipuu heritage. Her boyfriend, Ben Brown, accessorized his suit with a blanket by Teton. “The quality is up there with Pendleton but it’s Native owned, the Delaware tribe owns it. They do a lot, they make cotton prints for people to do their dance regalia, they support Native artists, I have a pair of their slip-ons.”
During cocktails outside, a crane loomed large overhead, a reminder of the museum’s massive expansion project, which is 70 percent finished. More than $5 million was raised the event to help continue it.
Guests were relieved to come together during difficult times. “There were a lot of protesters. It makes you think. But you have to live for the people who can’t live, and smile for the people who can’t smile,” said Chrome Hearts cofounder Laurie Lynn Stark.
“The world is upside down, I just want to say, we feel Los Angeles is such a diverse community that people crying out in pain anywhere in the world, we can feel that,” said LACMA director Michael Govan, introducing the program during dinner. “And through dark times like these, I hope we can also feel the tremendous counterforce of love that resonates in this room year after year as they come together to honor the artists and creativity that help us see the way forward.”
One of them is Baca, who is continuing her project of painting the world’s longest mural telling the story of California, “Painting in the River of Angels: Judy Baca and the Great Wall,” at the museum, with the goal of extending it from the half-mile it is currently along the Tujunga Wash drainage canal in the San Fernando Valley, to a mile. “She tells the history of Los Angeles, America and California that’s not always been recognized,” Govan said of the Chicana public artist.
Baca introduced L.A.’s first city mural program, and has co-created more than 400 “sites of public memory” as she calls them, over the last four decades. When she took the stage, she urged guests to come see her continue her biggest, with the goal of documenting the ’60s to the present, in studio at LACMA.
Pitt introduced Fincher, who has directed him several times dating back to the ’90s.
“Many of us will not know the countless technical advancements he’s brought our industry or the numerous cinematographers who credit him with giving them their first shot, or the thousands of hours he’s given to aspiring young directors who sought his tutelage. You may not have realized last time you binged your favorite series that you have David to thank for that, that it was he and Netflix who first dropped ‘House of Cards’ all in one. That he even created the skip intro button you probably use a lot,” Pitt said to applause before warming up the crowd with a clip roll of Fincher’s music video work, from Madonna’s “Express Yourself” to George Michael’s “Freedom” to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.”
“We must get these supremely talented people back to work, we have to very soon,” Fincher said when accepting his award, commenting on the need to end the SAG-AFTRA strike, which has stretched into its fourth month.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to insist cinema is not dead, not even close. Man has painted for more than 30,000 years. He’s played with the building blocks of cinema for just over 100.”
Fincher’s hopeful words primed the crowd for the party capper, an rocking performance by Lenny Kravitz that had De Sarno and Chow dancing, Kardashian wiggling in her hot pink Balenciaga gown, and everyone singing along to “American Woman.”