The last human being to wear Spider Silk, a textile stronger than steel and made from the silk of the golden orb spider, native to Madagascar, was one of Napoleon’s wives. She sported Spider Silk gloves. Two hundred years later, on the evening of September 23 at the American Museum of Natural History, socialite Tinsley Mortimer picked up where French aristocracy left off and valiantly wrapped a shawl made from the silk of 40,000 golden orb spiders around her shoulders. While several publicists helped to adjust the scarf, Ms. Mortimer asked if spiders had died to make her new accessory.
Ms. Mortimer was attending the unveiling of the new Spider Silk Exhibit at the AMNH. The exhibit’s centerpiece is an 11-foot-long hand-woven textile made from the silk of one million golden orb spiders. The event’s press release touted the fabric as “imbued with metaphor and poetry, with nightmare and phobia, with tales and myths that resonate with us all.” It took artist Simon Peers and fashion designer Nicolas Godley five years and about $500,000 to produce the cloth. Some spiders did indeed die.
“It’s so delicate,” Ms. Mortimer, now securely draped in Spider Silk, said, “it makes me nervous.” Still, the shawl was “very comfortable, very light,” and, best of all, “it matches perfectly!” she said, gesturing toward her shimmering gold dress.
Model Maggie Rizer, Real Housewives of New York’s Countess Luann de Lesseps, Valentino’s Carlos Souza, Countess Natalie von Bismarck, and designer Nicole Miller each wore some version of gold, silk, glitter (or all three) as they walked a yellow carpet. Stylist Phillip Bloch wore a grey and blue tuxedo expertly matched with golden Nike sneakers. The fortuitous pairing was simply “a comfort choice,” he said. Perhaps having heard that some people in Madagascar eat the golden orb spider fried, a chatty Mr. Bloch added: “I was thinking I could go on that Survivor show, or I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, but when it comes to, like, eating them [spiders]…” he trailed off sadly.
The event was hosted by golden-haired actress Heather Graham, who wore a feathered and bejeweled black Valentino frock. When asked why she wasn’t wrapped in the Spider Silk scarf that Ms. Mortimer was wearing, she replied, “I don’t think it would go with this dress!”
Inside the AMNH’s Grand Gallery, DJ Donna D’Cruz, donning headphones affixed with a massive crown of jewels, spun for Champagne-swilling guests. As the party wound down, a few attendees who seemed to have snatched the shawl away from Ms. Mortimer passed it around and posed for pictures.