picturing marilyn dior dress

My Week With Marilyn, the enthralling new movie starring Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh, is based on a true story, from the recollections of then 23-year-old assistant Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) during one specific week that the star was in London filming The Prince and the Showgirl, opposite Sir Laurence Olivier.

Michelle Williams's extraordinary portrayal of Marilyn has Best Actress written all over it.

What better way to see the film than in conjunction with the opening of an exhibit, "Picturing Marilyn," focused entirely on never-before-seen photographs of the iconic star?

A veritable who's who of the fashion, photography and entertainment worlds were present, including Harvey Weinstein, Celeste Holm, director Simon Curtis, Coco Rocha, Olivier Theyskens, Bruce Weber and Jessica Stam.

"Marilyn is such an icon," said Georgina Chapman, wearing a black leather Dior cocktail dress. "She represents everything feminine about a woman. She's vulnerable, she's beautiful, and she also had a sense of humor. I think that's why she appeals to so many people."

"This exhibit is kind of a dream," said Dree Hemingway, wearing the long, black backless dress that Monroe had worn in the photograph, recreated by Dior especially for the occasion. "I grew up watching Marilyn Monroe movies—my mother would only let me watch old movies—and it gives me butterflies in my stomach. I'm really honored to be here."

"You never get tired of looking at her. I want to be her. Even though she had such a tragic end, I still want to be her," said self-confessed shopping addict Nanette Lepore as we admired the swirl of Dior designs around us.

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Mary-Louise Parker Charlie Mars

The American Ballet Theater Fall Gala, in the newly renovated City Center, featured an extraordinary series of short ballets.

The performance was followed by dinner at the Plaza, where guests were still speaking of how dazzling the final piece was, with costumes by Norma Kamali and music by Philip Glass.

"I saw it a few years ago, and I remember being awed. It was just as moving this time," said Sarah Arison, clad in a black and white Carolina Herrera, as we entered the Palm Court, where Charlie Mars, Zang Toi, Natalia Costa, Timo Weiland and Carlos Mota mingled with the dancers and looked for their seats.

Mary Louise Parker, in a long black Halston number, was equally enthralled.

"I thought it was thrilling," said the Weeds star. "I was holding my breath for the last 10 minutes. I felt the dancers were giving us so much, it was just so beautiful."

Parker was sitting with co-chair Ashley McDermott, who was resplendent in black lace J. Mendel.

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Michael Cominotto, Carrie Fisher, Dennis Basso

Mental illness is a devastating disease that has many forms, and affects millions of Americans, yet people who are ill often try to hide it. The 2011 Silver Hill Hospital Gala's focus is to help patients who suffer from mental illness, and to raise awareness of the disease.

"Tonight is about chipping away a little bit more at the stigma of mental illness. Let's talk about it," said Michael Cominotto, who served as honorary co-chair for the evening with his fiancé, Dennis Basso.

Basso and Cominotto chaired the first gala in 2010, and it's a testament to both that the two evenings were successful and well-attended.

"I know about Silver Hill hospital, it's a great institution," said Veronica Bulgari, who was there to support friends. "I think it's remarkable that they had never done a major fundraiser until last year; they brought together a very large group that didn't really know much about the hospital. They gathered great energy and have created a big following."

Carrie Fisher was the honoree.

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Mark Badgley, James Mischka, Kelly Osbourne

How do you get Mark Badgley, James Mischka, Kelly Osbourne, Sade Baderinwa, Glenda Bailey, Kenneth Cole, and Cornelia Guest to tear up? Put them in a room with 700 equally moved people at the Phoenix House Fashion Awards dinner and have them listen to 20-year-old Sophia Capria, a recovering addict, tell the story of how she overcame her dependence on drugs and a full-blown eating disorder to become an accomplished, articulate and productive woman.

"There's nobody else there for these people besides Phoenix House," said the organization's chairman of the board, Jeff McDermott. "We are there for the kids who get a little bit messed up and need help getting on the right track. 14,000 lives a year are what we touch and save."

Jeff and his wife Ashley—stunning in Fendi, Dennis Basso and Sidney Garber earrings—were captivated by the speeches given by honorees Pamela Fiori, Mark Badgley and James Mischka, and Brendan Hoffman, whose lives have all been touched by family members with addiction problems.

Kelly Osbourne, wearing Mark and James, introduced her friends.

"You are two of the kindest men in the fashion industry. Truly, you both have big hearts. What you've done for Phoenix House is incredible," said Osbourne. Mischka followed with a wrenching speech about his brother's crystal meth addiction and recovery.

"We started our company in the shadow of Phoenix House," Mischka told me. "We were in Hell's Kitchen and Phoenix House was an overwhelming presence there. We've always been aware of their efforts to give back to the community. We've seen so many lives shattered by addiction in the fashion industry. It's really extraordinary the way Phoenix House gives back. Any client that walks in they'll accept to put in their program."

"Hope, dreams, and a reason for living. That's what Phoenix House is," said Fiori, whose sister is a recovering addict.

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