CHANGE AGENTS: “The state of the world is in question. I think that the spirit of equality and diversity is universal and I’m glad that it’s resonating, that it’s all striving towards a better world,” said Virgil Abloh, founder of Off-White and men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, at Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief catwalk fund-raiser, held in a hangar at the Mandelieu private jet charter airport in Cannes.
The theme of the show was Race to Equality, and Abloh was standing against a block wallpapered with facts and insights into the state of the world. Standing nearby was director Spike Lee, who attended the show with his family. The director’s eagerly anticipated “BlacKkKlansman” will be premiering in Cannes on Monday night, with Abloh also set to walk the Cannes 2018 red carpet to attend the screening. In the film, John David Washington plays real-life police officer Ron Stallworth, who became the head of a Ku Klux Klan chapter.
“I was in New York for the Met and I heard about it, and he’s one of the most incredible directors of our time. I think the fact that he’s coming with an intriguing idea and putting it in the format of a film is great. I’m a supporter of Spike Lee,” said Abloh.
The designer, who will show his first collection for Vuitton in June during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, said he’s still living between France and the United States. “I perpetually live out of a suitcase, a Rimowa suitcase — same family, though,” he said. “Traveling as much as I do, I’m sort of a fanatic of things.”
“It’s going to be a very intense film,” said Natasha Poly, leading her five-year-old daughter, Aleksandra, around the space. “Equality is a big issue right now, and that Naomi has made it the theme of tonight makes the message all the more stronger,” added Poly, before zipping backstage to get ready to walk in the show.
Seated in the front row alongside personalities including Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Michelle Rodriguez, Adrien Brody and Paris Hilton, Caroline Vreeland — dressed in Jean Paul Gaultier couture — said she’s always been the most passionate about campaigning for rights for the LGBT community.
“For me, the most exciting race to equality is in that world, and as we sit here [RuPaul’s] DragCon is happening in L.A. All the different drag queens get to come and have their own booths and I’m, like, torn between worlds, between my love of fashion and film and being there, because that’s such a big thing for me,” she said.
Whizzing by, glass of wine in hand, Erin O’Connor was in a race to get to hair and makeup. “I’m here because I’m an ambassador for Save the Children and Fashion for Relief is supporting them this year,” said the model, adding that she’ll be shooting “a huge U.S. campaign in the desert next week.” She wouldn’t disclose for which brand, though. “Can’t tell you, I’ll be shot,” she said, disappearing backstage.
Campbell, who also walked in the show, in her speech during the dinner afterward, paid homage to Winnie Mandela, who passed away in early April. “It’s all about education, and that is a central thing to everything Fashion for Relief does. Raising awareness is important, but fund-raising is absolutely essential, and your support makes it possible for us to actually help make a change,” said Campbell.
“Somebody who not only stood for, and also fought for this, was my dear Mama Winnie Mandela.…It goes without saying that her former husband Madiba Nelson Mandela…set an example for all of us in this room and the whole world to follow. In this divisive time, his message of tolerance and people working together is more important than ever,” she added.
The night’s auction — conducted by Simon de Pury — included among the lots a Picasso drawing, titled “Tête de jeune femme,” that sold for 215,000 euros. Craig David performed at the dinner.
Fashion for Relief has also partnered with Chrome Hearts, one of the night’s sponsors along with Place Vendôme and Bumble, on a one-of-a-kind T-shirt in aid of the charity that has gone on sale on the brand’s web site.