VENICE – A fantasy cross-over of all the hit TV shows of recent years must have inspired the guest list the Armani Beauty team put together for its exclusive dinner hosted here on Saturday.
To mark the fifth anniversary of its sponsorship of the Venice International Film Festival – which closes on Sept. 10 – the brand and its licensee L’Oréal invited a plethora of international stars and ambassadors to the striking Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum.
The venue’s artsy courtyard offered a real-life set in which “Bridgerton” stars Regé-Jean Page, Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran actually met; ”Euphoria” sisters Sydney Sweeney and Maude Apatow mingled with “Westworld” star Tessa Thompson and “Stranger Things” talent Sadie Sink, while “Riverdale” darling Camila Mendes toasted with “Outer Banks” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” actors Chase Stokes and Gavin Leatherwood, respectively. “The Great” star Nicholas Hoult, “Emily in Paris” actress Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu and “La casa de papel” and “Élite” talents Jaimie Lorente and María Pedraza added to the crowd.
On the candlelit terrace overlooking the Grand Canal, Roberta Armani was also joined by models Irina Shayk as well as Armani Beauty faces such as Barbara Palvin – flanked by Dylan Sprouse; Valentina Sampaio; Greta Ferro, and Madisin Risin, to name a few.
The gathering saw many of the faces that paraded in Giorgio Armani and Armani Privé looks on the red carpet the night before for the premiere of “Bones and all.” After 24 hours, Luca Guadagnino’s movie starring Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell was still among the conversation topics.
“I think I’m still processing the whole film,” said Sweeney, wrapped in a strapless Armani Privé gown styled with a wavy mane. “I don’t want to spoil anything… I went to the movie not knowing what to expect, I didn’t know anything about it so I kind of want people to have that same experience,” said the actress.
Based on a screenplay by David Kajganich, the movie sees Chalamet and Russell as two cannibalistic lovers who embark on a cross-country road trip. “I’m a real fan of Luca’s, I thought the acting was beautiful and really an interesting love story… I’m a fan of it,” said Hoult.
While the public has to wait until November for the film’s release, the premiere flooded the internet with its fashion moments, led by Chalamet’s fire red backless top and matching pants designed by Haider Ackermann. While Russell appeared in a Balenciaga couture fall 2022 emerald gown, Thompson opted for a flashier green shade with an eye-catching look by Christopher John Rogers.
Known for leaving an impact with her daring choices, which are picked with the help of styling duo Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald, Thompson is having a streak of standout fashion moments in Venice.
“I think we’re always looking for something that really excites us and something we haven’t done before. I think we really like pieces that are architectural, that feel really like a moment and also sort of a character,” said the actress, who at the Armani Beauty event opted for a sparkly blouse and light grey fluid pants from the brand.
Key fashion moments so far included an Armani Privé spring 2009 couture look that consisted of a sculptural silver minidress worn over black sequined trousers, and a red dress from Elie Saab’s fall 2022 couture collection, which she turned into a fierce monochrome outfit, including a bag by Brandon Blackwood.
“We’re always thinking around working with classic brands but also newer designers, mostly of color who haven’t maybe had as many red carpet moments and getting them in these big spaces is really impactful, so we think a lot about that,” said Thompson. “And I think fashion should be fun. I sort love the idea that someone might see you walk by and might love it and you might make someone else laugh. [Fashion] should be playful; I don’t think we should take it too seriously.”
In addition to being an Armani Beauty ambassador, Thompson is in town with a dual purpose: she is part of the jury for best first feature and will present her latest movie, “The Listener,” on the closing day of the festival.
Directed by Steve Buscemi,“The Listener” sees Thompson as the only on-screen character in the role of a helpline volunteer, part of the small army of counselors who field calls from all kinds of people who feel lonely and broken.
“We made that film in six days. I had one week off from shooting ‘Westworld,’ and we shot the movie entirely in sequence, which is very rare. Typically you’re moving around in the schedule, but we had very little time,” recalled the actress.
“I’ve been such an admirer of Steve and his work for so long and when he sent me the script I thought it was so beautiful, so relatable in terms of what so many people are facing. Obviously during the pandemic there was an idea of isolation because of that time, but I think also in the world that we live in, it’s increasingly so and people feel lonely,” continued Thompson, underscoring that “even if there’s so many things to connect us like our phones and social media, they actually can make us feel more isolated, so that was one thing the film really talks about.”
“And for me personally I love to make movies and tell a story because I think they make us feel less alone when we see a reflection of our humanity,” she added.
The perks of discovering new talents as part of her jury duties added to making her Venice trip “incredible,” she said. “I’m seeing so many films every day, so this is a gift for me. My favorite things are like cinema, pasta, fashion. I’m a simple girl,” she added with a laugh.
At their first attendance at the film festival, Page and Sweeney shared the sentiment.
“It feels like a magical dream. Everyone is just dressed to the nines and the city is the utmost beautiful place. I love Italy, I love Italians and I love being here,” said Sweeney. “The first night I was here I kind of snuck into the city at night and found a little pizza spot, we rode around the canals, it was really beautiful.”
The actress squeezed the Italian trip in between movie commitments, as her stay in Venice came to an end the following day, when she headed back to Boston to continue filming the superhero film “Madame Web” along with co-stars Dakota Johnson, Emma Roberts and Adam Scott.
Sweeney has finished filming “National Anthem” as well – also starring Halsey – and working on the “Reality Winner” movie. “And then I go back to ‘Euphoria’,” she added with a big smile.
The HBO hit show received 16 nominations at the upcoming Emmy Awards, with Sweeney nominated in the outstanding supporting actress category for her role as Cassie Howard and as Olivia Mossbacher in “The White Lotus.” She described the approaching award ceremony – slated for Sept. 12 – as “very exciting and nerve-wracking, but I’m so incredibly grateful for just the recognition and all the love.”
Asked about a role she would like to play next, Sweeney said she dreams “of just playing an array of characters: I like finding characters that shock an audience, so I’m looking for something that people don’t expect me to do next.”
“There’s so many,” echoed Thompson on the same topic. “But I think there’s something really challenging… and incredible when you get to play someone that has existed in history and getting to do them justice. I’ve done that once before [in ‘Selma’] but I haven’t really gotten to dig deep into the humanity of someone that I maybe think I understand from afar.”
“It’s boring but I always have the same answers: it’s the roles I haven’t imagined yet,” was Page’s take on the question. “I want to be surprised. So the role I don’t know, that sparks something new in my head, that’s my dream one.”
Before having a busy summer – with Netflix releasing his film “The Gray Man” and the promotion of his upcoming movie “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” at Comic-Con in San Diego – Page was named face of the Armani Code Parfum scent. This month the advertising campaign photographed by Damon Baker popped up on billboards in international cities and the spot directed by Manu Cossu was released.
“It was a great fun,” Page said about filming the commercial, which starts with everything moving backward except for the actor. The encounter with a woman and a deep staring into each other’s eyes sets the world on the right course again.
“I love that it is so active, I love that Manu was so wonderfully generous and artistic and just the idea of working through how to express our theme so effortlessly. It’s about moving forward, it’s about a freedom and an expressiveness and getting to embody that the way that we did, was really gratifying,” said Page.
To mark Page’s latest addition to the Armani Beauty family, the brand hosted an intimate dinner in his honor on the opening day of the festival at the landmark Harry’s Bar, with Giorgio Armani global beauty ambassador Cate Blanchett in attendance, too.
Hoult is a fellow fragrance face for the brand, having fronted campaigns for Emporio Armani scents since 2020. The British actor’s new work is “The Menu,” a black comedy horror in which he and Anya Taylor-Joy play a couple traveling to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant run by mysterious chef Ralph Fiennes. The film will premiere on Sept. 10 as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, but Hoult said he won’t be able to make it to the screening.
“The thing that was easy is that I was playing a real foodie and my character in ‘The Great’ was a foodie as well, so that’s seemed to be my niche at the moment,” said Hoult. “Apart from that, it’s just a very interesting piece about art and humans – it’s a dark, dark comedy.”
While Hoult is also working on “Renfield” next to Nicolas Cage, Lorente’s new film “42 segundos” was released on the eve of the Armani Beauty dinner. The movie centers on the Spanish national water polo team’s silver medal win at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992, delving on the personal stories of some of its players, like Lorente’s character Pedro García Aguado and his substance addiction.
Regularly coming to Venice as an Armani Beauty ambassador eventually inspired Rian to go beyond her fashion career and explore the movie industry. “I’m taking classes. I’m still new, I’ve got to get there, but I’m so excited. It’s a new journey for me and I really enjoy it,” said the model, who has no doubt about her dream job. “Marvel, 100 percent. Since a little girl, I’ve always wanted to be in a superhero film. That just really inspires me – to act out like an iconic, powerful character. And I think Marvel resonates with children and adults, it’s so relatable,” said Rian.
While Rian headed back to the hotel for an early flight to New York for fashion week preparations, after dinner the other guests moved to the Ca’ Vendramin Calergi venue, where they joined the likes of Julianne Moore and Isabelle Huppert in dancing the night away at the ball Giorgio Armani hosted with Vanity Fair.
In addition to being the main sponsor of the festival, Armani Beauty is continuing to support the restoration of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia collection of plaster casts.