"Fête Moderne - a Fantasie in Flame and Silver" Beaux Arts Ball


At the height of Depression, the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects which attracted the well-to-do and cultured of the profession, many of whom had studied at the famous École des Beaux-Arts in Paris threw its annual ball. The theme was to recognize the dawning of a new age of architecture and, coincidentally, the new age of financial gloom. Tickets were $15 which would gain admission to something "modernistic, futuristic, cubistic, altruistic, mystic, architistic and feministic. "Guests who came as a conventional sailor, cowboy, chef or police officer's costume would be barred, but that "a traffic cop from Mars" would be welcomed."At least two dozen architects came dressed as buildings they had recently designed. These included Chester Aldrich as the Union Club, at 69th and Park, and William F. Lamb as the Empire State Building. Arthur J. Arwine, a heating contractor, came as a "low-pressure heating boiler." Murchison came as a model tenement. Van Alen was the star. According to the New York Times, He was "dressed in a patent leather and flame-colored silk cape and boots, with flexible inlays of the same exotic woods used on the Chrysler Building's elevators. Indeed, his cloak was designed to emulate the design of the doors, and two shoulder ornaments replicated the eagle heads at the 61st-floor setbacks. On his head rose a strikingly dangerous-looking crown, the graduated layers of the Chrysler tower itself rising to a spire, the ensemble at least four feet above his scalp.". The ball was covered live by WABC radio starting at midnight.

Party, Jan 23, 1931

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