Persol Celebrates 100th Anniversary during Cannes Film Festival

EYE EYE CAPTAIN: ‘Twas the night before the amfAR gala, as stated on the invitation, and Italian eyewear brand Persol, in partnership with the charity, marked its 100th anniversary with an intimate party aboard a boat moored in Cannes’ Port Canto. Will Smith, Eva Longoria and Donatella Versace were among the guests at the event.

Cannes Film Festival: Will Smith speaking with Dionne Warwick at the Persol party

Cannes Film Festival: Will Smith speaking with Dionne Warwick at the Persol party  Lily Templeton/WWD

“Tonight is pretty special because we have such a long history with [Leonardo] Del Vecchio, [founder of Luxottica, the parent company of Persol]. He’s such a gentleman,” said Versace, whose fashion brand has been working with the eyewear group for 25 years.

Guests were asked to leave their shoes behind before walking up the gangplank, with a week-long Mediterranean cruise on the 236-foot long Serenity yacht due to be auctioned off as one of the highlights of the amfAR charity auction tonight at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc.

Smith was reassuring models who were reluctantly slipping off their heels saying, “You feel bad about taking your shoes off but when you get on board, no one has their shoes on, so everyone’s on a level.”

The night’s entertainment included a live performance by Dionne Warwick. “If you know the words, do sing along,” said the singer said before launching into a heartfelt rendition of “That’s What Friends Are For,” which was recorded as a charity single in 1986 with Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight to raise funds for the then-nascent amfAR.

Cannes Film Festival: Dionne Warwick performing "That's friends are for" at the "Night before amfAR" Persol 100 year anniversary

Cannes Film Festival: Dionne Warwick performing “That’s what friends are for” at the “Night before amfAR” Persol 100 year anniversary  Lily Templeton/WWD

“It’s not an exaggeration to tell you that [that song] changed the AIDS epidemic, and amfAR would not be what it is today without the inimitable Dionne Warwick,” amfAR chief executive officer Kevin Frost said, revealing a documentary about the singer was under development.

After the performance, which had the audience singing along, the party picked up. The ever-dapper Smith showed that he had lost none of his dance moves as he boogied on the boat’s upper deck. Longoria and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld stretched their toes for a relaxing evening ahead of Thursday night’s gala.

Performing at this amfAR-focused party “seemed like the right thing to do, given it’s the reason they are — and why I became — so enmeshed in [the fight against AIDS],” Warwick said below deck. “It’s just about being human, and caring. I’m thrilled that we’ve done some real good.”


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