By Rob Arango
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta dates back to the year 639 and survives as the oldest structure in the Venetian lagoon. Due to structural problems resulting from the passage of time and the effects of salt accumulation, the 15th-century-panel paintings of the twelve apostles and the Virgin Mary now risk severe permanent damage if not treated right away. Save Venice’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” held Friday, April 26, 2019 at The Plaza Hotel helped raise urgent funds to preserve the cultural and artistic treasures of Venice.
The masked ball is famed for bringing out New York City’s most sought-after socialites to celebrate. Of course, any gala hosted by co-founder of Moda Operandi Lauren Santo Domingo and by international style icon and interior designer extraordinaire Bronson van Wyck is one for the books. The event raised $1.2 million for Save Venice’s conservation projects and European editor-at-large for the American edition of Vogue, Hamish Bowled, presented the Outstanding Mask Awards to Antonia Sautter, James Aguiar, Lisa Lee and Peter Zhou.
Bronson van Wyck transformed the Grand Ballroom into a Venetian palace with 100-foot navy tufted curtains, renaissance goddess statues and scarlet rose bouquets throughout. The gala’s 450 guests, which included Nicky Hilton Rothschild, Julia Koch and Tory Burch to name a few, dined on Grilled Filet Mignon, Tarragon and Tomato Risotto and Sautéed Spinach. After a decadent Budapest Milk Chocolate Mousse for dessert (which was accompanied by a shot of Limoncello), the dining room turned into a dance party led by DJ Ruckus—black tie and ball gowns alike rocked it out to celebrate an amazing night.
As I got into my cab after the gala on Friday night, I received a text from my dearest and closest friend of over 30 years, Eugene, who just happened to be in Venice at the time. He wrote, “It is a magical place. No matter how many pictures you have seen they cannot convey the magic of strolling the streets and crossing the little bridges. Everything is beautiful in Venice.”