The invitation read: “Un Ballo in Maschera 2018: Splendori dell’Oriente”-having no clue what that meant I did know I was in for a spectacular evening as guests were exhorted to wear opulent black tie and masks. The “Save Venice Ball” an annual extravaganza at the Pierre Hotel is a fashion prelude to the Costume Institute Gala.
Photo: Lieba Nesis
I had never attended and was excitedly anticipating what was in store as I pored over pictures from prior years with guests dressed in lavish gowns wearing masks reminiscent of “Dangerous Liaisons. The April 20th shindig began with a cocktail party at 7:30 PM where guests included Costume Institute regulars: Derek Blasberg, Lauren Santo Domingo, Fabiola Beracasa, Sienna Miller, and dozens of socialites.
|Lieba Nesis and Tatiana Cancro in Oscar|
The evening which is usually sponsored by Dolce and Gabbana was spearheaded by Oscar de la Renta and Pomellato with many guests wearing the designer while others opted for Rochas, Gucci, Valentino, Erdem, Dolce, and Naeem. This was a crowd where it was nearly impossible to stand out as knockout after knockout walked by in dazzling attire. When you are competing with the likes of Princess Marie Chantal of Greece and Princess Deena Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia you best bring out your “A” game or just stay home.
|Cassandra Johnson, Chairman Fred Ilchman and Jean Shafiroff|
As the cocktail hour proceeded, there was a palpable electricity in the air and I found myself nearly gasping at the illustrious attendees. Some of those who achieved fashion preeminence were Tatiana Cancro in a magnificent white and pink frothy Oscar concoction which she purchased that afternoon at the Madison Avenue atelier; Jennifer Creel in a perfect Valentino white gown: Sienna Miller in a gold Erdem; Rebecca Krantz in a pink Oscar; Jean Shafiroff in a floral Oscar: and Toni Garrn in Mugler.
|Lieba Nesis and Di Mondo|
Fashion muse Di Mondo wore an extraordinary mask comprised of eyes designed by his talented partner hatmaker Eric Javitz. Another fashion luminary Derek Blasberg deserves plaudits for his smashing three-piece Dolce suit Deep in conversation with billionaire art dealer Alberto Mugrabi the entire evening Blasberg, a writer for Vanity Fair, continues to transcend stratospheres with a Rolodex that would make Rihanna blush. This evening actresses Robin Wright and Sienna Miller danced around him as Moda Operandi founder Lauren Santo Domingo sat nearby. Whenever, I see Derek there are at least two celebrities two feet away vying for his attention.
|Lauren Santo Domingo, Derek Blasberg, and Sienna Miller|
Tonight many of Derek’s friends were in the room including Todd Meister, Jessica Joffe and Alicia Silverstone (that was an assumption). I was not sure what “Save Venice” does so I asked Chairman Frederick Ilchman who told me the organization was started 25 years ago and aims to restore hundreds of works of art and architecture in Venice, Italy.
|Lydia Fenet in Wes Gordon|
Ilchman told me that tonight’s event contained 440 people and was nearly sold out at the price of $1,500 per ticket. What he likes most about the evening is the diversity in ages with attendees ranging from 20 to 90 years old. Moreover, I told him this was not your typical New York gala crowd with many attendees venturing out from their townhouses on the Upper East Side or the palazzos in Venice for this annual happening.
|Sandra Kuhl and Joe Fichera
Photo: Lieba Nesis
As the guests ate their meat roasts or fish alternative they were able to socialize without lengthy speeches or live auctions. When the meal concluded, DJ Ruckus began spinning songs with nearly every attendee running to the dance floor. I was surprised at how long the guests stayed with the room still packed at midnight. Afterwards guests headed to the “Pool Room” for an after-party hosted by Pomellato with drinks and a DJ continuing the festivities. However, most of the guests had headed home “saving” themselves for the upcoming gala season which looks to be more dazzling than ever.
– Lieba Nesis