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This was “Crash the Gala,” the afterparty for the Art Institute’s annual gala. This year, “Crash the Gala” turned Terzo Piano, the sleek, minimalist Modern Wing restaurant designed by Dirk Denison Architects into the ideal setting for a John Hughes film. The ceiling was covered in balloons, and disco balls cast celebratory patterns across the room. Hot dog vendors, popcorn machines, and ice cream sundae buffets lined nearly every wall, and a handful of servers carried trays of corn dogs, potato chips, and heaping piles of bacon. Yes, just bacon. Of course, unlike actual prom, usually organized by student committees and stifled by teacher chaperones, “Crash the Gala” was hosted by Ikram Goldman, Michelle Obama’s stylist and owner of Chicago fashion boutique Ikram.
“This party is really about Ikram,” said Chris Peters, a founding member of the Chicago-based fashion label Creatures of the Wind. Peters and his partner Shane Gabier received the runner-up prize from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund last November. “Ikram is one of the most important people thinking about fashion as art. And she’s not in New York, she’s not in LA, she’s here.”
“Crash the Gala” was also a celebration of the Art Institute’s enormous new show “Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective.” The event’s kitschy feel was a perfect match for Lichtenstein’s famous playfulness. To me, Lichtenstein’s work is characterized by an enduring middle-school quality. From comic books and airplane explosions to his take on the hot dog, Lichtenstein seemed to celebrate a schoolboy ethos.
Toward the end of the night, I ran into the sequin-clad woman I’d met earlier. Her eyes had slimmed to crescent-shaped slits and she moved with a distinct wobble. As she headed toward the exit, she pulled me aside and slurred, “My breasts are now your art.”