Inside Marc Jacobs’s Delirious Costume Party

Photo: Pierre Suu/Getty Images

“I like that it’s completely sheer,” said Susanne Bartsch, twirling in her black Zaldy dress and batting false eyelashes that extended half a foot from her face and angled out like mutant spider legs. Behind her, the designer Phillipe Blond was gyrating to “Hot Stuff” in front of eager photographers. “Finally, a party with a dress code!” Blond exulted during a posing break.

Tonight at Tunnel, it seemed that when Marc Jacobs and Roger Padilha challenged attendees to break out their best JERRY HALL SIDE-SWEPT HAIR and GRACE JONES BUTCH REALNESS (to quote the invitation and its all-caps proclamations) to celebrate the coffee-table book Gloss, everyone rose to the occasion. For once, in this athleisure-saturated, hypercasual moment, people dressed up. And every clause of the exacting dress code was in evidence, even “PATTI [sic] HEARST SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY GEAR” in the form of two women wearing matching studded berets. (“I’m Patty and she’s Hearst,” one half of the pair said.)

Jacobs, who was wearing a tight-fitting Gloss logo T-shirt — the better to show off David Barton’s handiwork — under a fur coat, seemed pleased with the overwhelming allegiance to the dress code. “I think people are always excited to dress up, but they wait ’til Halloween, which is such a mistake,” he told the Cut. “I mean, it used to be that people dressed like this all the time when they went out at night, before jogging pants ruled the world.” He took a 30-second break to snap a photo of his PR director, Michael Ariano, who was representing  ROLLERINA CHIC  in a red sequined pair of shoes — somewhere between Dorothy of Oz and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “Anyway, I think a party is all about dress-up,” he continued, “and fashion is all about dress-up and glamour is all about dress-up. All you need to do is give a little encouragement and people go for it.” He might have been regretting the “no flat shoes” rule, however: He was wearing bejeweled loafers from his women’s collection, but admitted, “They’re really hard to stand in.”

Michael Musto was watching the pageantry in an embroidered outfit that, he noted, was reversible, though practicality didn’t seem to be the rule of the night. Oh, and the dreaded flats. “They’re surgical shoes. That’s part of my fabulousness,” he said. (“I had nothing to do with the shoes,” his plus-one assured me. “People love ’em!” Musto retorted.) He has a long history with the venue: “I had the first big party here when it first opened. It was my birthday party. And Pia Zadora had me presented with a ten-speed bicycle. She wasn’t here, but it was presented from her. And the next day it was stolen.” Tunnel “looks very familiar to me,” said Robert Duffy, Jacobs’s longtime business partner, with a wink. “I remember it used to be a lot dirtier.” Duffy was wearing high-sheen leggings, but had sheepishly removed his blond wig on the way to the bar, because “Marc says every time I wear a wig and sunglasses, I look like Rick James.”

On the hood of a wrecked car graffitied with “Gloss,” two models in lingerie channeled the sex-and-death aesthetic of Chris von Wangenheim, the photographer whose work is collected in Gloss. Beside them, Gabriel Hendifar, who designs lighting fixtures for Apparatus, was dancing with a friend. Of his genielike getup (SHEER HAREM PANTS), he said, “I kind of wanted to be, like, a glamorous late ’70s woman, but as a man. So I made a sequined cincher that’s actually attached to a jockstrap.” Some of the raw materials came from the depths of his self-described “drag bag.” (“It’s all stuff that’s been laying around waiting for the right occasion.” His motto, he added, was: “Tits out, let’s roll.”)

Gazelle Paulo, flight attendant and columnist for TheBlot magazine, had paired a picture hat styled after a painter’s palette with ’70s-style gym socks. “Everybody’s talking about going back to school, you know, so this is my approach to going back to school at Studio 54,” said Paulo, who avowed that the look took a mere half-hour to concoct. “I never know what I’m going to wear. I don’t plan. I start with the hat.” 

A few feet away was Ron Burns, who places advertising for the menswear designer Ermenegildo Zegna, and who was initially gob-smacked by the invite. “I stressed out because I’m not cool, and I was like, what the fuck does that all mean?” Slowly, he constructed a theme: “I tried to be butch from the waist up, and feminine from the waist down. His heels, which were vertiginious, “are Patricia Field, the leggings are American Apparel.” He gestured to his tutu “from a sex shop,” his bondage vest from Leather Man, his sunglasses (Ray-Ban), and his trucker hat (“Provincetown”). He turned around to reveal a Dick’s Sporting Goods nylon mini-backpack, the kind runners use. “I have sneakers in here, because I don’t know how long [things] will last.” He paused to take in the sight of a woman who had taken the FUR COATS OVER LINGERIE suggestion to heart: “Now that’s on fleek.”

No one rode in, Bianca Jagger–style, on a white horse, as the organizers commanded, but actress Laverne Cox made a memorable entrance dripping in diamonds. “I love the invitation, I love the dress code, it made me wanna come,” she said. Was this her first soiree at Tunnel? “I’m too young!” she threw over her departing shoulder.

Inside Marc Jacobs’s Delirious Costume Party