There are no shortage of parties in New York in the fall. But one thrown by a royal-adjacent English socialite to save elephants—and in Brooklyn, no less? Now that's something to talk about. On Thursday, Space For Giants, a non-profit organization based in Kenya that works to protect the natural habitats of African elephants, hosted their first U.S. fundraising event, Stampede of Sound. Held at Brooklyn Bowl, the event featured a live concert by Niles Rodgers to raise funds to stop poaching in Africa. At the center of it all was Alexandra "Lexi" Bowes-Lyon, the charity's U.S. Philanthropy Director, who also happens to be cousins with Prince William and Harry. Here, the 30-year-old philanthropist opens up after her charity work, the differences between the London and New York social scene, and what makes a good party.
Tell me about the big event at Brooklyn Bowl.
Space for Giant is relatively new in America, so we are throwing this party at Brooklyn Bowl. The aim is to raise a million dollars. We are an incredibly small team over here, and we wanted something that can raise our brand profile and at the same time, raise the money to fund the necessary projects. My idea is always to do something fun that is engaging. “What would my friends want to come to?” I also like to support creative arts in any way, so that was the idea behind this. We’re going to have fun and raise some money.
What exactly is Space for Giant for those who don’t know?
Space for Giant is a non-profit organization to protect the African elephants from extinction and to secure the habitat that they live in. Obviously the problem that everyone hears is the poaching problem, but the biggest threat and longer term issue is that cities are getting bigger and bigger, and people are spreading out. Very soon we are going to have much less space, and the problem is that humans and animals are having difficulty living side-by-side with each other, and we want to secure these spaces and, within that, protect these animals.
How did you get involved?
I grew up between Scotland and London, so I was always surrounded by these amazing landscapes and was lucky enough to travel my whole life. I’ve been to Africa and various different countries quite a lot. I worked in the art world for quite a few years, and really enjoyed it and all the different people that you meet along the way, but it wasn’t quite for me. I quit and started to explore other options, and kind of fell into the charity world and decided that creating creative events, using what I already knew, could marry two of my interests.
What makes a good party that people will want to come to?
New Yorkers sort of have a twenty minute attention span, and the desire to always be experiencing something new is both exciting and difficult to work with. For me, it is about how you capture people’s imagination, and especially when it comes to charity, how you bring home something that is very far away and removed from our everyday life and make it something that they can really care about. A lot of it is about the people who are there; there has to be a good energy. And having a theme that really focuses people and interests them—something they can take part in. Is it a party or is there something that can really resonate with them? New York is hard and easy because there are so many things going on at the same time that people are very willing to go to things, but to keep their attention is very difficult.
What are other differences that you notice between the New York and London social scene?
For me, where you grow up, you are in a very specific social crowd, and London is obviously very dynamic and there are lots of different cultures and people there. But the social scene was always a bit limiting, for me, but maybe people always say that about where you’re from. When you move to a new place, you have this opportunity to start something completely new and open whatever doors you want. Moving to New York was moving out of something that I’d grown up in. I wanted to explore different options and see what was out there. I love working in New York purely because I am meeting people all the time.
Have you noticed that your style has changed since coming to New York?
Yes, definitely. I walk outside my door and see all kinds of crazy characters dressed up in weird and wonderful things all the time. There is a lot of expression in the city. There probably is in London, as well, but I grew up in a specific social scene, and to get out of that is much more difficult in your hometown. When I came here, I was inspired to take some more risks. I put together some crazy outfits that I think if I was in London people would say, “What the hell are you wearing?”
9 Famous Kids Who Ruled the Runway at New York Fashion Week 2017