On Their Toes

Olivia Palermo

Olivia Palermo. Photo by PatrickMcMullan.com.

It takes chutzpah to throw a major black tie affair the Thursday of the same week as the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center gala. By that point, you imagine, the celebrities have fled town (many, in fact, did the next day heading to Palm Springs for the Louis Vuitton Cruise show). And others might still be recuperating from that juggernaut.

None of that seemed to impact the New York City Ballet’s Spring Gala on Thursday. There was no lack of red carpet exuberance from curious onlookers—“Oh look, there’s Ansel [Elgort]!” squealed two young female gawkers—and arguably, it allowed the Vacheron Constantin-sponsored event to focus on the actual ballet and those who love it.

“I’m a huge fan of the ballet, it’s a skill that eludes me, so I’m always in awe of watching them perform,” explained the actor Andrew Rannells of his presence that night.

“I’m really a fanatic for the ballet,” said Valentino, whose first such outing was a production of “Giselle” in Paris when he was 18, adding, “I love that they start them [the dancers] from the beginning, they start very young and I know what is the way to become a big star because I’ve met so many people. So I admire their big talent.” He had plenty to take in with a program that included the joyful “Bournonville Divertissements” and the world premiere of “La Sylphide,” staged by the company’s ballet master-in-chief Peter Martins and featuring an ethereal Sterling Hyltin.

The dinner that followed on the promenade immersed guests in a variation of the mystical forest set Susan Tammany designed for “La Sylphide,” with painted scrims and purple and green lighting. The latter, coincidentally, perfectly matched the gobstopper Verdura rings on Olivia Palermo’s fingers as she chatted with Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti. “I always wear these fun rings when I go out instead of my wedding ring,” offered Palermo with a mischievous glint. “My husband hates it.”