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Posh Party! (Though Ford Was Tardy)

May 24, 1999|IRENE LACHER

How fashionable is Gucci god Tom Ford? Enough to be fashionably late to his own party.

By 10 p.m. Thursday, an hour after party ground zero, Gucci designer Ford was nowhere to be seen at Arena, the mammoth Hollywood nightclub that was filling up with hipsters celebrating the launch of Gucci's advertising campaign for Absolut vodka. The liquor company, which has collaborated with such artists and designers as Andy Warhol and Nicole Miller, selected Ford for its next campaign, hoping to generate some contact heat from the guy who saved Gucci.

At one end of the dance floor, a huge screen flashed film of models wearing Ford's glittery, flesh-baring clothing brandishing the Absolut logo. At the other end, temperatures really were rising when a couple began to strip in public. That was a little too hot for security, who cooled them off. Outside, celebrities were trickling up a long red-carpeted staircase lined with press. Sailing by were Gucci fans Elizabeth Berkley, Stephen Baldwin, Charlize Theron, Gabriel Byrne, Juliette Lewis and James Coburn.

Inside, we caught up with an ebullient Daisy Fuentes, who was wearing Ford's ruffled shirt and tuxedo pants. "Who needs the jacket? I don't need no stinkin' jacket." She said she lives in Gucci "because it's simple yet over-the-top, less yet more and always fabulous."

By 11, Ford had finally arrived at the bottom of the press gauntlet. A publicist came over to us at the top of the stairs. "You have one minute to talk to Tom Ford." Eventually, that is.

We looked down. The valet parking line was beginning to reach critical mass. Hmmmmmm, we thought. One minute to talk to Ford--and then 45 more to get the car?

Bye-eeee.

*

We spotted one of the more interesting pairings on the L.A. landscape Thursday evening: artist Cindy Sherman and art lover Steve Martin strolling hand in hand through the dress aisles at Barneys in Beverly Hills.

No, they weren't shopping for Sherman's trousseau. The cash registers were closed--hallelujah!--and the aisles were filled with artists and aficionados examining a new portfolio of photographs for sale by the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Sherman was there because MOCA had asked her to select the 10 works by up-and-coming photographers. A week earlier, she was in New York attending the opening of a show featuring her latest body of work. "I'm going back to black-and-white, using small dolls, mangling them up," she said. "It's along the lines of [Sherman's earlier series] the sex pictures, but with more violence."

The work may have been typical of what Sherman hath wrought, but the reaction to it wasn't: "I was kind of surprised that people weren't as aghast as I expected," she said.

Hey, you win some . . . We asked Sherman whether Martin collects her work.

"No," she said. "We're just friends. I think he's just beginning to become informed about photography. He mostly collects paintings."

Educating Martin certainly seems like a worthy goal. Of course, that must have been what she was doing during their stroll.

"Oh, yes."

Earlier that evening, "Speed" director Jan De Bont, whose new film "The Haunting" opens this summer, chatted with MOCA director Richard Koshalek about his important collection of photographs by Robert Frank, Edward Weston and others. This was Koshalek's last public appearance before stepping down from the museum's top job, but that didn't stop him from mooning over De Bont's collection.

"We will be constantly talking to Jan and [his wife] Trish," Koshalek said, "because this is how we build a collection, and theirs is extraordinary."

*

Irene Lacher's Out & About column column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Page 2. She can be reached by e-mail at socalliving@latimes.com

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