Saving Venice

Required a grand ball and plenty of masks.

Giovanna Battaglia, Jessica Hart, and Bianca Brandolini

New Yorkers yearning for a spring break or even just the onset of spring were granted both their wishes Friday night at the annual Save Venice gala, sponsored this year by Dolce & Gabbana, Ferrari and HFZ Capital Group. A Ballo in Maschera (that would be masked ball), it was themed Enchanted Garden, which made for a particularly transformative setting at The Pierre hotel (the entrance to which was flanked by two gleaming Ferrari sports cars surrounded by candles). As guests ascended the arrival staircase, they were greeted by a female harpist beneath a dogwood tree. During cocktails, the human specimens on display comprised more varietals than the Bronx Botanical Gardens. Bettina Prentice and her husband evoked the blossoming energy of Titania and Ariel from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest, respectively. One girl walked around with a cherry blossom Mohawk in lieu of a traditional up-do; another couple maneuvered the masses surrounding the bar with multi-foot feather hedges-cum-mini-skyscrapers perched on their crowns.

There were less verdant interpretations of the dress code, including one fellow with a head encased like a member of Daft Punk and another whose face was replaced by a glittering disco ball of a globe. The model Jessica Hart wore a full black, feathered Vegas-ready showstopper. Plenty of Eyes Wide Shut-worthy beaked masks were in abundance, too.

For some, the appeal of a covered visage was undeniable.

“Nobody can tell I didn’t sleep,” offered one girl.

“What happens here, stays here,” said her PR director friend, adding, “How can you tell who anyone is?”

Jennifer Creel was so devoted to her sleek white number that despite its partially blinding effect, she insisted on sporting it through multiple sets of stairs on her way into dinner.

“Taking my mask off would be the smart thing to do,” she admitted, doing just that as the night wore on.

Once seated, attendees were reminded of the event’s mission—raising funds to help preserve cultural and artistic sites in Venice, including the church of San Sebastiano and Vittore Carpaccio’s Saint Ursula cycle at the Accademia Galleries—before digging into a seated dinner capped off by a dessert buffet in an adjoining room.

Throughout the night, guests were competing for prizes for best masks, which were handed out to the couple, Sarah Flint and Shane Spinell, sporting butterfly-strewn towering hedges; Susan Krysiewicz, who won for best female with a ceramic vase sprouting a bouquet, and Derek Thompson, best male, whose poitrine and crown were enveloped in all manner of flora. The Dolls gave an electronic violin performance, which quickly segued into wild dancing late into the night. Mask on, mask off.

Photos: Saving Venice

Giovanna Battaglia, Jessica Hart, and Bianca Brandolini d’Adda. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

A harpist at the Save Venice Gala. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Shane Spinell, Sarah Flint, and guests. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Alexandra Lind Rose. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Lily Aldridge. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Masked guests. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Mia Moretti and Caitlin Moe. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Padma Lakshmi. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Peter and Harry Brant. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

The environment at the Save Venice Gala. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Camilla Al-Fayed. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Alina Cho and John Demsey. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Crystal Renn. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Federica Marchionni and Jeff Koons. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Stavros Niarchos. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Lauren Santo Domingo. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Mia Moretti and Caitlin Moe. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Adelina Wong Ettelson. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Sofia Sanchez Barrenechea. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Carlos Mota. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.

Kelly Rutherford. Photo by Sherly Rabbani.