Persol's Magnificent Obsessions Opening Captures the Craft


06/17/11

Last night at Center 548, everyone was thinking about lenses. Italian eyewear brand Persol opened the first of three installments of its new exhibition series, Persol Magnificent Obsessions: 30 Stories of Craftsmanship in Film, which showcases the painstaking research and craftsmanship that go into some of cinema's most iconic scenes; among the items on display are opulent costumes from Marie Antoinette, props from Brazil, and a tiny scale model of the train in The Darjeeling Limited. The exhibition, which runs through the weekend, is well worth seeing—and, unusually for this sort of event, the party guests took their time perusing its offerings before grabbing a pair of Persol sunnies and heading up to the rooftop deck.

The event also served to honor Sir Ben Kingsley and Terry Gilliam, two men whose film résumés need no introduction, as well as costume designer Milena Canonero. Kingsley was busy mingling with his stunning wife, Daniela Lavender; but when we got a moment alone with him, we asked whether he'd ever considered, like Gilliam, climbing up into the director's chair. "I always enjoy a really good rapport with my directors, and that rapport as an actor's so good, I've never actually thought about directing myself," he said. "But I'm producing, and of course I will be working very closely with my writers and directors and fellow actors. The whole process fascinates me." ABOVE: SIR BEN KINGSLEY

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Our conversation a bit later with singer Sky Ferreira careened from high culture to low in under a minute: her favorite Ben Kingsley movie, we learned, is Schindler's List ("It's pretty intense"), a fact she related while wearing a faded Beavis and Butthead sweatshirt ("My friend gave it to me"). Sky, were you even alive when Beavis and Butthead aired? "Yes, I was! I remember when Daria came on, I was six." And did six-year-old Sky identify with Daria? "Pretty much!"

Also sporting a unique look was Ryan McGinley, who wore a memorably colorful vest. "My outfit tonight is based on River Phoenix, on a role that he played in a movie called I Love You to Death, where he had a very androgynous, kind of lesbian-y look. I put it together, and then I felt like I was channeling River," he explained.

"Terry Gilliam, he's a friend of mine, I'm a big fan of his films, obviously: Twelve Monkeys, Brazil. One of my favorite Ben Kingsley films is Sneakers. I've seen Sneakers probably a good 30 times," McGinley said. Like Gilliam and Kingsley, he was a special guest at the party: its DJ. "I used to DJ a lot, when iPods first came out," he said. "Everyone made fun of me, and they used to call me DJ Thumb Attack, because everyone was on vinyl and CDs at that point. So I gave up, and this is like my comeback!"

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