I never thought I’d feel superior to Anna Wintour, but that all changed with the new Andrew Rossi documentary, “The First Monday in May,” debuting this month at the Tribeca Film Festival, which chronicles the Vogue Editor-in-Chief’s hosting of last year’s Met Ball.
Aside from a love of oversized sunglasses, our commonality began in 1995 -- the year we both added master party planner to our CVs; she taking on as her pet project the gala, which each year kicks off the opening of the Costume Institute’s spring exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while I began producing my kids’ birthday celebrations.
Yes, we are both considered hands-on facilitators and deem our respective events the Super Bowl of any social season, but our similarities end there. I think, quite frankly, that Anna needs to chill.
GOD IS IN THE DETAILS – TO A DEGREEApparently Anna is a perfectionist. I like what I like the way I like it, but “perfect” can get silly. No one ever notices that the napkins are the exact Pantone shade of white as the rice inside the California Rolls. You obsess over the most minute elements, and still Gwyneth Paltrow, as in 2013, declares the night, “Unfun…”
FOOD TASTINGS NO MOREI reason these a waste of time and calories. Hire a top-notch caterer – Anna’s already collaborating with Glorious Foods – and trust that the pigs in a blanket will be divine.
EAT DRINK AND BE MERRYAnna seems to be a bit over-accommodating to the vegan crowd and others with special dietary requests. I have been to a number of events given by vegetarians who serve the food of their conscience, leaving carnivores such as myself to eat the grass or starve. I make a habit to dine prior to these events as to not insult/argue with the host about how there’s nothing for me to consume. In turn, when I am throwing the affair, I am entitled to offer edibles that are a bit more meaty. Fair is fair, right?
THE SEATING CHART IS NOT YOUR FRIENDAnna likes to “mix people up.” This leads to comments like that of a disappointed Chloe Sevigny referring to her non A-list table assignment as “just like high school.” I’ve never done a seating chart – not even for my own wedding. Everyone grabs a table for themselves and whomever they want to sit with. I’ve never had a problem or complaint.
FLOWERS, DÉCOR, AND ENTERTAINMENT – OH MYIt takes Anna about 12 months to plan her event, with a level of intensity up around Mach 5. My last party, my daughter Meg’s Sweet 16, was perhaps the most stress-free. I used my son Luke as location scout, as years before he went to a sixteenth birthday at least once a week. The restaurant’s caterer provided both the dinner and the cake, which people still rave about. One of Meg’s teachers had a DJ business on the side, and another teacher had a boyfriend who was a professional photographer. Done and done. Her future wedding should go so smoothly.
It’s too late for Vogue’s fearless leader to take my advice concerning the 2016 gala themed “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” since it’s only weeks away on May 2nd. But for next year? Anna, baby, relax. It’s a party.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels FAT CHICK and BACK TO WORK SHE GOES.