NIGHT MAGIC: Natalia Vodianova returned to London to host a pop-up Fabulous Fund Fair dinner and charity auction on Thursday night, taking “elves and fairies” as the night’s fantasy theme.
The event was much more intimate than the all-singing, all-dancing, hyper-produced annual extravaganzas traditionally held at Camden’s Roundhouse during the fall shows in February.
To start with, it was held at the distinctly unmagical Brewer Street Car Park but the invitation had promised an “evening of enchanting magical performances,” to which end Vodianova tapped the creative talents of My Beautiful City — the creative agency behind shows and events like Dior’s cruise 2017 show at Blenheim Palace and Fashion for Relief at the British Museum — to transform the otherwise dreary space into a fairy-tale setting.
Emerald green velvet was draped to create the walls of the space, with giant bunnies and red-topped toadstools greeting guests in the bar upon arrival.
Screens showing the bleak branches of an “enchanted” forest created an atmospheric scene in the dining room, where tables were set with dangerous-looking exotic flowers and crystal balls. There were three spotlighted mystery doors branded with Dior, Louis Vuitton and Fendi at one end of the space, and a small stage at the other, where, as promised, there was magic.
Magician, mind-reader and jokingly self-proclaimed influencer Archie Manners was master of ceremonies for the evening and simultaneously impressed and unnerved guests with his unerring accuracy.
Having tasked model Neelam Gill and musician Tom Grennan to think of a random celebrity and an anywhere-in-the-world place, respectively, Manners correctly arrived at Bedford for Grennan and Tupac Shakur for Gill. WWD confirmed with both that there had been no previous chicanery or collusion between the parties.
Less enchanting? The lavatory situation. Providing just two bathrooms for all the guests and staff was a humblingly democratic experience to all — and that’s no bad thing. Even if it did shake loose some of the evening’s pixie dust.
Behind those luxury-branded doors were games for guests to play for prizes, including a giant dice-toss by Dior and a “Croquet Forest” from Fendi.
Vodianova herself wore a full-length red gown by Giambattista Valli, complete with flounced trail and sparkling Chopard earrings dripping from her pointed elf years. She told WWD that the theme for the night was inspired by “the fairies and elves that help to make the magic happen” in her Naked Heart Foundation’s mission to support the families of children with special needs.
Her couture dress was sold in a surprise lot in the charity auction, officiated by Alexander Gilkes. “Well, not this actual dress but one exactly like it,” Vodianova explained to get the bidding moving. It was sold for 30,000 pounds alongside other treats such as a limited-edition, sold-out metal Saddle bag from Kim Jones’ Dior pre-fall 2019 men’s show. A two-week internship with Stella McCartney, including a vegan lunch with the designer, went for 45,000 pounds — the highest price of the night.
The experience was a first for Siobhan Bell, the British DJ who opened the Iceberg show in Milan for James Long. “This is my first charity auction; it was a little tense — all those people watching to see who would win. It reminded me of the first time I went to Las Vegas, when I found it really weird that people would just come up behind you and watch you play on the slot machines,” she said.
Gill said she was channeling a “badass fairy vibe” with her leather trousers and Agent Provocateur corset, inspired by Inej Ghafa, the fleet-footed spy in Leigh Bardugo’s “Six of Crows” fantasy novel, which is being adapted for Netflix by Eric Heisserer, who wrote smash hit “Bird Box.”
“Inej is not a fairy or an elf but she’s a badass b–h and she is my inspiration in everything,” she said. “Leigh [Bardugo] saw a picture of me on Tumblr years ago when I first started modeling and then when I posted pictures [of myself] I would get lots of tweets and comments from the book’s fans saying, ‘You are Inej to me’. Then one day Leigh DM’d me after I had tweeted that I finally knew why everyone calls me ‘Inej’ then. She sent me a signed copy that I have in my house now.”
Oliva Palermo was working a similar “bad fairy” mood in her leather dress and lacy brassiere. She was joined by husband Johannes Huebl and event designer Lucas Somoza, who had enlisted the skill of a professional to paint his face with a butterfly that matched the brocade of his Valentino blazer.
Other guests included Jeremy Irvine, Abbey Clancy, Ed Westwick, Mert Alas, Misse Bequiri, Hope Ikpoku, Giancarlo Giammetti and Amber Anderson.
It wasn’t clear whether the Fund Fair would return in February with all its bells and whistles but one source suggested that the pop-up was a testing of the waters to see whether a more traditional charity dinner format would work in London during the Frieze art fair, while London is filled with deep-pocketed sorts. This influx of affluence was harnessed by art collector Batia Ofer earlier this week when she hosted her Art of Wishes gala to raise funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.