Best LA Galas Fall 2011

Best Galas in Los Angeles of Fall 2011


An Unforgettable MOCA Moment

No one will soon forget the Museum of Contemporary Art‘s Nov. 12 Gala in 2011, where performance artist Marina Abramovic created table centerpieces of nude women and human heads.

Added to the unearthly atmosphere, Abramovic handed out lab coats to dinner guests, among them Gwen Stefani, Kirsten Dunst, Tilda Swinton, Rose McGowan, Dita Von Teese, Miranda July, Albert Brooks, Abigail Spencer, Michele Hicks, Rosanna Arquette and Minnie Driver.

Maria Arena Bell and Eli Broad co-chaired the amazing gala, with Dasha Zhukova and Larry Gagosian as honorary co-chairs. Click here for more details and 50 pictures.

Photo: Following dinner, recording icon Deborah Harry of the legendary punk band “Blondie” arrived onstage like Cleopatra, carried on a divan by four bare-chested gentlemen, at the MOCA Gala, among the Best LA Galas Fall 2011 (photo credit: Frazer Harrison/ Getty Images for MOCA) 



LA PHIL Rhapsody in Blue

How can a Gala miss, when the ingredients are a George Gershwin concert, conductor Gustavo Dudamel and jazz legend Herbie Hancock? Adding to the 1940s supper-club ambiance, many women chose blue gowns in retro styles to match the “Rhapsody in Blue” theme for the LA Phil Gala.

Click here for details of the Sept. 27, 2011 soiree, co-chaired by Joan Hotchkis and David Bohnett; and click here to see more than 50 pictures.

Photo from left: Eloisa Maturén Dudamel, Gustavo Dudamel, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Herbie Hancock at the LA Phil’s “Rhapsody in Blue, among the Best LA Galas Fall 2011 (photo credit: Mathew Imaging)





LA Opera’s Aria After-Party

While some arts organizations groups wonder how to involve the younger generation, the Los Angeles Opera seems to have found the magic formula.

Organizers of the opera’s White Nights Opening Night Gala hired a rock band, prevailed upon Emmy Rossum of “Shameless” to chair the after-party and offered affordable tickets to the Sept. 17, 2011 season-opening performance of “Eugene Onegin.”

For those interested in a more traditional gala, a Russian-style dinner preceded the opera with Placido Domingo on hand to welcome all gala-goers.

Click here for gala details and here to see 40 event photos.

Photo: singers Dalibor Jenis, the opera’s “Eugene Onegin” with Katerina Goode on the dance floor at the LA Opera’s “Aria” party, among the Best LA Galas Fall 2011  







Hammer Gala in the Garden

Artist Jorge Pardo’s installation of 600 tangerine-colored lanterns cast a soft glow, Bruno Mars performed and long tables encouraged conversations at the Sept. 24, 2011 Hammer Museum‘s Gala in the Garden.

Art collector Rosette Delug and “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star co-chaired the dinner, which honored “Simpsons” creator Matt Groenig and artist Lari Pittman.

Neil Patrick Harris of “How I Met Your Mother” and Christopher Knight presented the awards before a crowd that included artists, art collectors and celebrities Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Jack Black and more. Click here for pictures and additional details of the gala.

Photo, from left: John C. Reilly, Hammer director Ann Philbin and Will Ferrell at the Hammer “Gala in the Garden,”  among the Best LA Galas Fall 2011 (photo credit: Stefanie Keenan for the Hammer Museum)


The LA Ballet Gala – An Instant Success

The Los Angeles Ballet staged an exquisite “Giselle” on the Broad Stage, and then invited dancers to join guests for a sumptous dinner in an adjacent tent, formally decorated with 20 crystal chandeliers, gilded furnishings and rose topiaries. The ballet company’s first-ever gala actually took place in the spring, but it was so exquisite that I’ve included the gala in this list, (as I didn’t have a “best of spring 2011” or “best of summer 2011” list and it seemed worth mentioning.)

Lori Milken, Jeanette Trepp and Ghada Irani co-chaired the event, aptly titled “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and artistic director Colleen Neary surprised the audience by naming Allyssa Bross and Christopher Revels the company’s first principal dancers. Readers can find the details of the gala here and pictures of the ballet performance here.

Photo: Kate Highstrete as Queen of the Wilis in “Giselle” immediately prior to the Los Angeles Ballet’s first-ever gala, among the Best of LA galas 2011 (photo credit: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)


A Few Galas More

The above Galas are just a few of the standout soirees that took place in Los Angeles in fall 2011. A few others were the star-studded UNICEF Ball, the Getty Center’s “Pacific Standard Time” Celebration, Hal David’s 90th birthday party benefit for the Blue Ribbon and ASCAP; and many other events covered on this website.

I’ve labeled these Galas and a few other favorites “Best LA Galas of Fall 2011,” but there were plenty of other great galas and other events in Los Angeles this past year. Some were by-invitation only; others, open to anyone with a checkbook. Some attracted 1,000 people; others, like the Literary Feasts to benefit the Los Angeles Public Library, were intimate dinners for 16 in private homes.


And Fun Surprises, Too!

Darren Criss of “Glee” delivered the year’s best surprise. To make up for a short engagement he had to miss, Criss gave an hour-long concert for supporters of the Festival of New American Musicals. Later, in mentioning his generosity to Jayma Mays of “Glee,” she called Criss a “good egg,” thought about it, and then said it again.

It’s been a good year, socially-speaking in Los Angeles. And I can say that again.



Joan Jett, Clay Walker, a celebrity fashion show, plus Nicky and Paris Hilton Up for Auction at Race to Erase MS 2011



Best LA Galas Fall 2011

Published Jan. 4, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA