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Anna Wintour, Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquière, and Cate Blanchett hosted last night's annual Costume Institute gala, which was a celebration of Paul Poiret, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Poirot was the pioneer in modern fashion, and freed women from petticoats and corsets - though many, even those in attendance last night, aren't familiar with him. Everyone did their best to dress "in the spirit of" the King of Fashion however, including: Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kirsten Dunst, Renée Zellweger and many other bold-faced names (photos here).

2007_05_imanbowie.jpgAMNY has a rundown on the style, the Met exhibit and the man behind it:

Harold Koda, curator at The Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute stated: "His fame came before World War II so only historians and other fashion designers really knew of him." But in 2005 the Met purchased at auction almost two dozen of the outfits Poiret created for his wife-muse Denise in the early 1900s, and Koda was reminded of his influence on what we wear today. When describing the Poiret pieces, including cloak-style coats, drop-waist chemises and empire-waist gowns, Koda repeatedly uses the word "modern." The Costume Institute opens "Poiret: King of Fashion" on Wednesday. Visitors will recognize the shapes, if not the names of the designer and his style posse.

The NY Times reports

that many of the celebs and socialites skipped the exhibit all together and spent their time at the bar. Wonder what the now defunct Socialite Rank would have to say about this. Luckily, there's Park Avenue Peerage.

The Poiret exhibit opens tomorrow and runs through August 5th. On a sad note, this all happened just after news that fashion stylist Isabella Blow died at age 48. She started out as an assistant to Wintour in 1981 (after moving to New York in 1979 to study at Columbia) and went on to make a name for herself in the world of fashion.

Lots o' pictures of celebrities at the Costume Institute at Just Jared, such as Jennifer Garner, Claire Danes, Zhang Ziyi, Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Connelly, Scarlett Johanssen and Jennifer Lopez.

Photographs of Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel (left), Lindsay Lohan (center) and Winona Ryder and Marc Jacobs (right) by Stuart Ransom/AP