RSVP: André Leon Talley

RSVP: André Leon Talley

The fashion legend recounts the tale of Paloma Picasso's Karl Lagerfeld-hosted wedding dinner, a luminous vision of '70s fashion glitterati.

The fashion legend recounts the tale of Paloma Picasso's Karl Lagerfeld-hosted wedding dinner, a luminous vision of '70s fashion glitterati.

Text: André Leon Talley

The best party I ever attended was Karl Lagerfeld's reception dinner for Paloma Picasso and Rafael Lopez-Cambil's wedding--May 5, 1978--at his former residence in Paris, 51 rue de l'Université. Fashion's greatest talents were there. Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Loulou de la Falaise and Thaddeus Klossowski de Rola, Tina Chow, and Anna Piaggi, to name a few.

At the time, Paloma was the ne plus ultra of Paris. She wore a ruffled crimson red silk ensemble by Karl Lagerfeld, who was then making a splash with his Chloé collections. Earlier in the day, she wore all Yves Saint Laurent: a white dry wool spencer jacket over a red flamenco blouse and bias sash, a black barathea wool wrap skirt, and a coqfeather hat that looked like a bird's nest.

The wedding dinner, held in one of the formal rooms of Lagerfeld's 18th-century apartment, was extraordinary. About 50 people were seated at a square table set with the best porcelain and vermeil, all lit by an 18th-century candelabra. I remember the brilliant fashion journalist Anna Piaggi, one of the most eccentric and best-dressed women ever, wore a helmet topped with birds of paradise--something she found in Milan. At one point, she got up to go to the powder room, and she had to squeeze between the vast table and the mantlepiece. Her helmet grazed the candlesticks and her plumes went up in flames. The guests gasped and screeched and the dinner, for a moment, came to a dramatic halt. Anna thought the focus was on her exquisite silvery lamé evening gown. Then she realized her helmet was on fire. A guest bravely got up and splashed water from his glass at the smoking feathers. Everyone was worried, but she carried on, amused at the whole spectacle.

After dinner, we went off to Le Palace, the Studio 54 of Paris, where we danced until dawn. I was wearing a new Dior smoking [suit], bespoke. There was Marie-Hélène de Rothschild in a box with Saint Laurent. Tina Chow wore a beautiful vintage hand-beaded cobalt blue Schiaparelli dinner suit. Manolo Blahnik, who was Paloma's best friend, was so excited that he started dancing the French apaché with her. Then he, believe it or not, picked me up off the floor and danced the apaché with me n his arms. I was skinny then. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I kept screeching over the disco music, "Be careful Manolo, this is my new dinner suit! Don't throw me down, it's not paid for yet."

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