NEW YORK — Judging by the table-hopping, card-swapping and noise level, Tuesday’s inaugural Fashion 4 Development Leading Ladies luncheon excelled in its quest for networking.
Even First Lady of the United Nations Madame Ban Soon-Taek offered a few fist pumps while chatting with F4D founder Evie Evangelou and F4D’s newly appointed Special Envoy for Human Rights Beatrice Borromeo Casiraghi. After accepting what will be a sign of F4D’s Leading Ladies, a strand of Tiffany pearls, Casiraghi, a Columbia University-trained investigative reporter, vowed to use her professional skills to champion F4D’s issues.
Casiraghi, who modeled for Chanel, Blumarine and other companies in Milan for two years as a teenager, is more widely associated with her husband Pierre, who is the son of Princess Caroline of Hanover, daughter of the late Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco. But on Tuesday, Casiraghi shone the spotlight repeatedly on the plight of girls, including the 150 million who in the next decade will be forced to marry before they turn 18. In talks with HBO and CBS’ “60 Minutes” about various investigative pieces focused on the issue, Casiraghi said, “I will be as stubborn as I will be tireless, because it is simply not acceptable to live in a world where the right to safety, the right to health, the right to life are not granted. These rights should be inherent because he or she is a human being.”
The gathering of 25 influencers — including actress Alfre Woodard and Alexandra Chantecaille — was set up through a partnership with the Global Fund to help raise awareness and support social initiatives in relation to education, gender inequalities and the impact of HIV on women and girls around the globe. In the next few years, F4D will also host Leading Ladies luncheons in Los Angeles, London, Paris and Milan. Another supporter, Natalia Vodianova, had to bow out due to a shoot in Paris Wednesday, but the model-philanthropist will be taking a more public role with F4D, according to Evangelou. Filmmaker James Cameron’s wife Suzy has pledged to champion environmental issues.
During a panel discussion, Red’s chief executive officer Deb Dugan mentioned the group’s plans for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 — an online sweepstakes with 20 one-of-a-kind escapades such as bicycle-riding through Central Park with Bono. There wee also rumblings of spending a weekend with the musician The Weeknd, going with Snoop Dogg to Colorado (where marijuana is legal) and hitting the red carpet with Meryl Streep. Red will also host a Carnegie Hall concert and be “taking over” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Dugan said. That same night, the AIDS-fighting group will be the subject of an HBO special being developed by Vice “to show where we are in the fight against AIDS,” she said.
(As an aside, Red is said to be in talks with Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing about creating a worldwide program to benefit orphans.)
She was joined on the panel by Malala Fund’s Shiza Shahid and New York City’s commissioner of international affairs Penny Abeywardena. Glamour’s Genevieve Roth served as moderator.
Afterward, Evangelou told her tablemates how Kering and The New School Parsons School of Design’s Burak Cakmak will join F4D at the World Climate Summit Dec. 6 in Paris. That night, 100 solutions will be chosen for an assortment of areas including fashion and transportation. And this spring F4D Solutions, a Web site for up-and-coming designers to find advice about sustainability and other ethically minded tools will be launched.
With that, Casiraghi suggested, “There should be a shop with very high-end products where you can buy clothes and makeup which are made very ethically.”
“There should be a chain of stores all over the world,” Evangelou piped up. “We could also bring it together to teach people to shop in a better way…People know, but are they really doing it?”