“Celebrity costuming at awards shows is boring,” declared the comedienne Joan Rivers. “They’re all exactly the same. You can take any dress from Gwyneth and put it on Julia. There is no originality at all any more.”
Ms. Rivers, a spry 74, was standing in her spacious, gilded Fifth Avenue apartment on Monday, Nov. 26, hosting a party for Hollywood costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis’ third book: Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design. “Everyone’s scared now to—God forbid!—make a mistake,” Ms. Rivers continued. “And they’re stupid, because who do we remember? We remember Cher dressed like a titanic fool! And Demi Moore in bicycle shorts, Lara Flynn Boyle as a ballerina, Celine Dion backwards. And Björk! Björk as a chicken! Whoever heard of Björk before she came dressed as a chicken?” (It was actually a swan, but whatever.)
Ms. Rivers was wearing a sparkly red tunic by the Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long. Her favorite movie costume of recent years, she said, was Cate Blanchett’s in Elizabeth I: “I paid full price to see her wear that costume and twirl. I did not go in with my W.G.A. card!”
Nearby, HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman and Vogue editor at large Hamish Bowles were mingling along with the guest of honor, who met Ms. Rivers through her husband, director John Landis (with whom she collaborated on the 1978 movie Animal House—“I made every toga myself!”—and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.) “It’s just being in the right place at the right time,” said Ms. Nadoolman Landis, who later received an Oscar nomination for Coming to America. “Eddie Murphy, like many comedians, is very somber in real life,” she shared.
The costume designer had never been to Ms. Rivers’ apartment before. She looked around, taking in the gold detailing, the painted clouds on the ceiling. “Let me say that it’s how I hoped it would look,” she said.