Every year, my dad asks me the same question: “Does Venice Really need saving?” Every year, my answer grows a little more shrill as I despair the fact that the fabled Italian city has probably sunk another inch or so. Obviously, it’s not the first charitable organization we should think of during the recession. That would of course be me. But, it’s still a beautiful cause that benefits beautiful buildings—something we sometimes forget about with all the other benefits struggling for our attention. Indeed, funds raised will go to the restoration of the church of San Sebastiano. Located in Dorsoduro, San Sebastiano houses more important works by the great 16th-century painter Paolo Veronese, than any other site in the world.
2009’s masked ball is aptly named “Primavera a Venezia.” I didn’t know what that meant, so I texted Luigi Tadini, one of the balls co-chairs. “Springtime in Venice bello!!!” he promptly replied. Springtime indeed, if today’s weather was anything to go by. I had been invited to committee member Lara Meiland-Shaw‘s stunning Nolita apartment beforehand to drink champers and film a segment for a program called “Real Life Gossip Girl,” to be shown on the CW. Of course, this had sent me into a mask making frenzy. Half of the guests don’t wear masks anymore, which really is a shame. The other 49% go to Zitomer’s on Madison to pick out one of the consistently similar pricey plaster masks that is guaranteed to have at least one mate at the fete. My date, Devorah Rose, and I had other plans. We went to trimmings emporium M+J in the fashion district for a fun DIY. It was like Martha Stewart’s equivalent to an orgasm, with buttons, ribbons, lace, and leather decorating every available surface. We finally had this really lovely shopgirl, Maria, help us construct what ended up looking like Liz Hurley’s undergarments—black lacey confections with feathers and raven colored twine that fit over our eyes perfectly. Very Eyes Wide Shut.
With our major Moschino outfits and one of a kind masks, I felt ready for a night on the town. Lara’s apartment resembled a motion picture film set, with about 20 crew members, lighting, several cameras, and a crowd of spectators watching the action. Inside, Maggie Katz, Leslie Schuhlof, and Rachel Wolkowitz joined Lara and her husband, Claude Shaw, in massive Cho Cheng (also the ball’s underwriter) creations. We pretended to giggle and talk about the stock market, and did multiple takes leaving the apartment and entering and exiting the ball. The show is a three-minute insert at the end of the final episodes of Gossip Girl, featuring exciting women that exemplify the characters. Lara, of course, is a skilled bridal designer of Lara-Helene Atelier. When I asked her what character she was supposed to be, the glowing and pregnant (!) Shaw, answered “Blair, of course!”
The ball, for the first time at the Bowery Hotel instead of the uptown Metropolitan Club, attracted a younger audience. Tadini in his Carlos Campos tux along with his co-chairs, the affable Antony Todd (“Can you believe I decorated this with like $4000!”), and the newly married Olivia Chantecaille. Other celebrants included art consultant Blair Voltz-Clarke, Patrick Mcmullan hottie Zach Hyman, Laird Roach, Vogue‘s Valerie Boster, Mauboussin’s Christine Cachot, PJ Pascual (rockin an incredible piece of man-jewelry), model Yara Devlieger, and hostess with the mostess Susan Shin. Tinsley and Topper Mortimer, with half brother Peter Davis in tow, appeared like rare unicorns—if you blinked you might have missed them.
Later, Luigi played pied piper and beckoned the young’uns to come down to the Box, for the official afterparty. Adelina Wong Ettelson absconded in my mask, while hot new couple authoress Anisha Lakhani (in Emmanuel Ungaro) and model Steve Gold, William Heath, Nina Freudenberger, and Timo Weiland watched the decidedly Venetian performance on stage. All in all, we would have made Blair, Serena, and co. proud.
Gossip Girl crew
Anisha Lakhani and Steve Gold
Laird Roach Jllian Lewis Fall 2009 Graffiti dress
Maggie Katz, Lara Meiland-Shaw, Leslie Schulof
Zach Hyman and Blair Clark
William Heath and Nina Freudenberger