“I’m his plus-one tonight,” designer Phillip Lim told Shindigger at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens last Wednesday, shooting a finger toward The Last Magazine co-founder Tenzin Wild. It was a balmy evening, and some serious entertainment-industry star power had turned out for the final installment of “Persol Magnificent Obsessions: 30 Stories of Craftsmanship in Film.” “It’s actually the best,” Mr. Lim continued. “You get to enjoy something.”
While Girls star Zosia Mamet and Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick worked the red carpet, we elected to take asylum from the heat in the air-conditioned foyer and sip prosecco.
“Thank God for AC,” giggled Mr. Lim.
More notables streamed in: Emmy Rossum in Carolina Herrera, Marisa Tomei and Hilary Rhoda in summery habiliment. Not wanting to dwell too much on fashion and too little on film, we bid Mr. Lim adieu and joined stylist Julie Ragolia and publicist Thomas Onorato for some small talk before the invitees were all called to dinner, which featured an exclusive menu inspired by the exhibit.
Shindigger plunked into a seat next to actor Marshall Bell, who was chatting with the slender Avril Graham of Harper’s Bazaar. “I’m waiting for my wife,” he said. (That would be three-time Academy Award-winning costume designer Milena Canonero.)
When Signora Canonero finally did arrive, she took command of the conversation.
“What is your name?” she demanded of all her unfamiliar tablemates. Everyone politely responded before breaking off into smaller discussions.
“I just flew in from Rome,” Ms. Canonero informed us as the “Miracle” chopped Chinese salad, inspired by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, arrived on our plates. She also explained that she had just wrapped her costume work in Berlin for Wes Anderson’s upcoming film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which stars Ralph Fiennes. “Although it has nothing to do with Germany or Budapest,” she added.
Soon afterward, the second courses, “Hideaway” petit filet, inspired by Catch Me If You Can, and “Vegetable Painting,” paying homage to Frida, arrived. Shindigger favored several sides of grilled asparagus and crispy polenta—and of course, more wine.
“I haven’t eaten meat in over a month!” Ms. Canonero exclaimed after devouring her cabernet demi-glace beef. “I feel like a vampire.” Slowly she turned her newly carnivorous gaze in our herbivorous direction. Before a shiver could set in, Shindigger changed the subject.
“What’s been your favorite film to work on?” we asked.
“I think Clockwork Orange,” she replied after a brief but dramatic pause. Ms. Canonero explained she had been working in London at the time, tackling various small-scale projects. “I was working at a cash register,” she recounted. “Babysitting to earn pocket money. Studying.”
That’s when Stanley Kubrick asked her to design costumes for his dystopian crime film.
“I’ve never met someone so generous as Stanley Kubrick,” she told Shindigger.
That may not be a popular opinion, but seeing how she went on to work with the director again on 1975’s Barry Lyndon, we had little doubt she was speaking from the heart.
Following a few remarks from exhibit curator Michael Connor, it was time to see the show. Highlights included Theadora Van Runkle’s impressive costuming work on Bonnie and Clyde and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968); legendary editor/sound designer Walter Murch’s innovative work on Apocalypse Now; Julie Weiss’s costume design for Frida and Twelve Monkeys; director Ang Lee’s vision for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Sławomir Idziak’s cinematography expertise on Three Colors: Blue; production designer Jeannine Oppewall’s extraordinary precision on Catch Me If You Can; and a very popular section dedicated to director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, focusing on their puppetry and mask work in Being John Malkovich.
“I like it so far,” Liev Schreiber reported to Shindigger, but then added: “I kind of expected it to be a little more extensive; I wanted a little more.”
Still, the actor was having a good time. “I’ve just started and I’m making my way over to Walter Murch now,” he said.
“Happy meandering,” we cooed.
Shindigger then passed by Ms. Oppewall, who was explaining details about her work on Catch, in order to get a few words in with Ms. Mamet. “I thought it was super special!” the actress enthused about the evening. “I think this whole exhibit is really incredible. I’m such a movie geek, and all of it is really lovely.”
Ms. Mamet then confessed that she had never ventured to the museum before.
“It’s kind of a hidden gem,” Shindigger replied.
“It really is,” Ms. Mamet agreed. “We really loved the Charlie Kaufman room—especially that mask. Also the costumes, the Frida costumes. And we had a really good time with the optical toys, not gonna lie.”
It was getting late, and some, like actress Emma Roberts, were ready to head home.
“Our car is picking us up around 6 a.m.” she sighed, mentioning an early-morning flight to L.A. Before we made our escape, however, we sought out Ms. Weiss for a final chat—and one last glass of prosecco.
“Usually the word ‘obsession’ is a single word,” the costume designer said. “It’s something that you grow up with, and it sets you apart. But to be a part of—to feel this community—it means that it really never was a word that made you different. It just meant you hadn’t found your other family yet.”
And on this night, amid the creatives, Shindigger was just another brother from another mother.
Follow Benjamin-Emile Le Hay via RSS.