Baz Luhrmann and Bombay Sapphire Open Frieze LA With a Bang

by Sid Feddema

Baz Luhrmann knows a thing or two about a good party. Take a look at Moulin Rouge or his wild adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Both films feature a Luhrmann trademark—the frenetic, flash-bulb lit montages capturing the delicious delirium of an unforgettable (even if spottily remembered) soiree.

They’re perhaps some of the most vividly illustrated party scenes in cinema, and he seems to relish creating them. Chatting with Luhrmann over a delicious series of Bombay Sapphire drinks on the Paramount Backlot during the first day of Frieze LA, the faux-New York streets rain slicked and decked out with contemporary art, he reveals his philosophy on what makes a party great: “Leonardo Da Vinci liked painting—didn’t love it. But he absolutely considered throwing a great party to be a true art form. And it is an art form.”

So what does it take to make a masterpiece? “The number one thing is the mix of people, and then the environment. And with the right combination, you’ll see this sort of witching hour effect, when things spark and the party hits its stride.”

This evening the party in question has both ingredients in surplus. The gallery above attests to quality of company, which includes Rita Ora, Asia Chow, Catherine Martin, artist Johnathan Yeo, Y’lan Noel, Lucila Sola, Scott Bloom, and Dorian Grinspan, and a reuniting of Titanic costars Billy Zane and Leonardo DiCaprio, who brought along girlfriend Camila Morrone and parents George DiCaprio and Peggy Ann.

As for the environment, we begin with cocktails at Bombay Sapphire’s pop-up exhibition within Frieze LA, an immersive space inspired by iconic New York City bar and ’60s and ’70s cultural landmark Max’s Kansas City, a favorite watering hole of the likes of Andy Warhol, David Bowie, David Whitney, Bob Marley, Mick Jagger, Twiggy, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Patti Smith. Lining the walls are artworks and mementos donated by a roster of creative visionaries who frequented Max’s, with all proceeds benefiting the Max’s Kansas City foundation’s commitment to providing emergency funding and resources to underrepresented voices in creative and performing arts.

After cocktails, we move to a gorgeous flower strewn atrium for dinner, where Luhrmann toasts those in attendance with an inspiring speech on creativity. A few too many Bombay Sapphire martinis later, conversations bloom, laughter echoes, and we all get a first-hand experience with the “witching hour” effect Luhrmann told me about.

Photos by Marc Patrick / BFA and Isaac Sterling for Matte Projects