Natalia Vodianova looks like an angel. Her beauty is ethereal, her seduction is sweet. But just because she has the grace of a swan doesn’t mean that she’s not kicking beneath the water. To wit, her Naked Heart Foundation is an international philanthropic powerhouse, largely because of the work that she single handedly has done. Nearly 10 years ago, she founded the charity to build playgrounds in underprivileged villages, first in her native Russia and now abroad. She has hosted galas around the world, in New York, London and Moscow. Her most recent stop was in Monaco, and I was only too happy to support my friend on yet another of her successes. Not that it took much convincing. Three days on the Riviera, with a ball and Russian ballet at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo? Fiiine, I’ll go.
The fashion was tiptop. Natalia wore custom-made Christian Dior haute couture. Princess Caroline of Monaco was in Chanel haute couture. The other princess of Monaco, Charlene, wife of His Serene Highness Prince Albert, was in Atelier Versace couture. And the men too turned up in their Riviera best. My favorite? Eugenio Amos, husband to Margherita Missoni, who’s striped double-breasted jacket hit the 1960’s theme on the head. (Margherita, nearly nine months pregnant, looked divine in her Missoni creation too.) Even Harvey Weinstein cleaned up nice, blushing when the master of ceremonies, James Corden, smooched on him during a smoke break.
‘Twas a night to remember. Maestro Valery Gergiev conducted the orchestra, Diana Vishneva of St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Orchestra took the stage for a breathtaking ballet, and all was under the artistic direction of the adorable Vasily Barkhatov. The highlight of the live auction was when Novak Djokovic bid on a private tennis lesson with his rival Rafael Nadal. We ended in the casino, myself on the arm of Camilla al Fayed, who with Harvey Weinstein commandeered a roulette table.
I am not a new witness to Natalia’s charitable efforts. I was at the launch of the Naked Heart Foundation at Diane von Furstenberg’s studio in 2004, and all of her subsequent Love Balls. [I profiled Natalia recently for the Wall Street Journal too, and we discussed her charitable efforts]. But this night left something so sublime in my memory. It harked back to a decadent and, dare I say it, royal time of long ago. In the name of a charitable spirit, we celebrated Russian culture. The event raised more than $4million for the Naked Heart, which is a sum that will do great service to children around the world. Mario Testino, who was at these festivities too, gave Natalia the nickname SuperNova. And in this weekend, it was clear to see why.
Captions, from top: Natalia at the Hotel de Paris in Monte-Carlo; the Kaiser and I, me and Karl Lagerfeld; the Monaco royal family with the patrons of the evening, including Natalia, Antoine Arnault and Lagerfeld; Camilla and Mario in the casino; James Corden and Harvey Weinstein showing some sweet love at the Love Ball; Margherita and Eugenio; Antoine, Natalia and Mario on the terrace; Alexandre de Betak and his fiancé, Sofia Sanchez; the ceiling of the Opera; Monaco’s harbor at sunset; Camilla and I at a dinner that Mario hosted for Natalia the night before the ball on a friend’s boat; Camilla and I; my friend Tatiana’s dog, Daphne, getting ready for bed; Noor Fares showing one of her faces; Eugenio, Tatiana and Andrea at dinner; Caroline and Karl in conversation; Astrid Munoz striking a pose before dinner; Natalia, spreading the love; Ulyana Sergenko; Sofia waiting for her cards; Harvey, Natalia and Camilla, at the Love Ball’s after party