Artist Darren Waterson and actress Gillian Anderson outside the Freer Sackler Galleries. (Erin Schaff/For The Washington Post)

The ornate gala invitation instructed guests to “strut like a peacock,” and Washington’s elite took the command to heart.

Wealthy art lovers, diplomats, philanthropists and socialites turned out in lavish gala attire and a dash of feathers Friday evening for the Smithsonian Freer Sackler’s Birds of a Feather Gala. The evening celebrated the opening of the exhibit “Peacock Room Remix” and painter Darren Waterston’s installation, “Filthy Lucre,” which reimagines the famed Peacock Room by James McNeill Whistler as a decadent ruin.

The evening was co-hosted by actress Gillian Anderson, a friend of the artist for 20 years.Guests honored excess with a private after-hours cocktail reception at the Sackler, followed by dinner and dancing at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium and a special performance by the indie-rock band Betty.


Peacock feathers added a dash of flair to Mariko Ikehara’s outfit at the Freer Sackler “Birds of a Feather” gala on May 15. The event celebrated the opening of “Filthy Lucre,” a new immersive exhibit at Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery that recreates the iconic Peacock Room as a collapsing ruin overrun by excess and debauchery. (Erin Schaff/For The Washington Post)

Allan and Jean Rabil laugh with Suzi and David Cordish. (Erin Schaff/For The Washington Post)

Guests at the Freer Sackler “Birds of a Feather” Gala. (Erin Schaff/For The Washington Post)

Elizabeth Ziff, Alyson Palmer and Amy Ziff of the band BETTY performing at Freer Sackler’s “Birds of a Feather” Gala. (Erin Schaff/For The Washington Post)

Mariko Ikehara and Jeffrey Cunard catch up with friends. (Erin Schaff/For The Washington Post)

Actress Gillian Anderson in a custom, hand-painted Fighting Peacock Dress designed by Misha Nonoo specifically for the Freer Sackler gala. (Erin Schaff/For The Washington Post)