Dua Lipa Performs at the UNICEF Italia x LuisaViaRoma Winter Gala in St Barth

Dua Lipa Performs at the UNICEF Italia x LuisaViaRoma Winter Gala in St Barth thumbnail

“Capri is a magic island, it has a different atmosphere than St Barth. There’s a different culture, different attitude, different background. We’re not trying to replicate what we had experienced in Capri. It’s going to be something totally different,” said Andrea Panconesi, president of luxury Italian retailer LuisaViaRoma, hours before last night’s LuisaViaRoma for UNICEF gala. “Probably everyone will end up jumping into the water.”

And Panconesi was right; the winter edition of the splashy, glitzy gala (which was hosted this summer on the storied island of Capri) offered a completely different vibe. This event, after all, was hosted on St. Barth and that means the yachts bobbing in the waters were bigger, the watches on the wrists were blingier, and the cut-outs on all the girls’ dresses were a bit more daring. And instead of Katy Perry and John Legend performing a piano duet, there was Dua Lipa and a clique of backup dancers that got the party started.

Hosted outdoors on the patio of St Barth’s famed Eden Rock, the event, which was sponsored by Augustinus Bader, began around 8pm. The sun had set hours ago and the ocean breeze was gustier than expected, rippling the skirts and gowns of the guests in attendance—among them Lipa (glimmering in a gecko-green Stella McCartney gown), Dylan Penn, Izabel Goulart, Nina Agdal, Daniel Arsham, and Leonardo DiCaprio (who notably remained masked and behatted).

Guests journeyed down a red carpet dotted with some of the night’s auction lots: a Harley that was once owned by Elvis Presley, a Moke that had been tricked out with a custom paint job by the artist Alec Monopoly. The parade of fashion (most of which was generously lent by LouisaViaRoma) also snaked through a gallery of the art up for grabs at the auction: a Marilyn Monroe photograph by Douglas Kirkland, one of Cindy Sherman’s untitled self-portraits, an artwork from Alexander Calder. Conspicuously missing from the walls was the NFT belonging to the Bored Ape series. (It’s a sign of the times that the latter fetched the highest amount of the three by a couple hundred thousand dollars.)

Soon, everyone was in their seats at tables clustered adjacent to the sandy beach and decorated with lush orchid centerpieces that had been flown in for the occasion. First on stage was Kieran O’Brien, global philanthropy manager at UNICEF, who encouraged the deep-pocketed guests to bid generously before the auction’s start. “Many of the families and individuals we work with describe their philanthropy as a life-defining journey; philanthropy is about individuality, identity, and legacy.” O’Brien also spoke of the Panconesi family’s commitment to charity, which is spearheaded by Andrea’s daughter Luisa, who now serves as the president of the event franchise which has raised millions of dollars with a more-is-more style of event production that inspires guests to place see-and-be-seen-bids. Last night, it was the duty of Michael Macaulay to conduct a live auction that was equal parts entertainment and philanthropy.

Over the course of Macaulay’s gig, bidders went into a frenzy over artist Domingo Zapata’s In Love With Mona painting and equally so for the monkey-themed NFT. At one point, a gaggle of models including Nina Agdal was called to the stage, decorated with guitars and musical paraphernalia signed by Ringo Star, Niles Rogers, and more. Proceeds from the night reached 4 million euros, which will go directly to UNICEF to support the organization’s mission to provide care and protection to vulnerable children across the globe.

With Macaulay’s final “Sold!” of the night, out came Lipa, now in a more casual ensemble of baggy glimmering cargo pants and a bustier top that smacked of Y2K. Seated guests immediately got to their feet for her opening song of “Let’s Get Physical.” Her set included “Cold Heart” and “New Rules” and her audience was captive. Right around the time she delivered her last song, the guests reached peak party mode. Thankfully, there were several after-parties from which to choose—and it’s very likely that some did end up going for a midnight swim just as Panconesi had hoped.

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