The Blog

The 51st Annual Save Venice: “Un Ballo Maschera” at The Plaza Hotel ballroom in New York City

This past Friday, the Plaza Hotel ballroom was masterfully transformed by Bronson Van Wyck of Van Wyck & Van Wyck into a world of glitz, elegance, and excitement. The theme for the evening was ‘Byzantine,’ chosen by Save Venice to bring awareness to the preservation of Venice’s artistic heritage.

Many pieces of art of historic importance have been under threat due to architectural structural damage and the threat remains due to ever-present high tides in Venice. Since 1971, Save Venice has been tirelessly fundraising to restore and bring awareness to the city’s artistic heritage and its at-risk architecture and art.

My dear friend, Lauren Levison, who was on the Host Committee for the ball, extended an invitation for the 51st Anniversary of the yearly ball. With two months to put my costume together, I opted for my Oscar de la Renta Spring 2022 “Celestial Crystal Tulle Gown,” which I was saving for a special event. I was fortunate enough to find this gown at the Madison Avenue boutique last year, and its design aligned with the celestial imagery of the Byzantine era. 

To elevate my look, I contacted “Guild of Hands” upon Lauren’s suggestion, and the lead designer, Christy Rilling provided options including the eventual design of the red silk bow cape with extended train to complement and complete my look with the Oscar de la Renta gown. Christy also provided the headdress options including what I eventually selected – a pink crystal headdress to match the bow cape.

Upon arrival at the Plaza Hotel, it was evident that every guest had brought their A-game – from custom masks to haute couture gowns, decorative accessories, and embellished makeup. There were a number of women also wearing Oscar de la Renta, but my personal favorite was worn by Lauren Levison who looked angelic in her custom Guild of Hands white organza cape, and silk gown with ornate and detailed embroidery lined with crystals. Her tiara made of genuine pearls and sprinkled with diamonds was designed by Sean Gilson of Assael Pearls and can also be worn as a necklace and her Guild of Hands mask was made of organza and lined with pearls – she was luminescent and a vision to behold.

Lauren Levison, Rebecca Vanyo

During the program, they announced the winner of the Best Ladies Mask, and I was surprised to have been chosen by Oscar de la Renta’s co-creative directors, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim. Other winners included DiMondo, who never disappoints with his sartorial selection, and won Best Men’s Mask and Karin McKinnell Leiden and Peter Leidel won the couple’s award. We were all presented with stunning jewelry from Bulgari, one of the event sponsors.

Afterward, Frederick Ilchman, the Save Venice Chairman, dressed in a Byzantine cloak and royal headpiece, led everyone to the mosaic-patterned dance floor. The rest of the evening the floor was packed due to an amazing DJ and energetic playlist. It was an unforgettable evening that will forever be ingrained in my memory. It was a colorful and sparkly evening full of glamour with the partygoers pulling out all the stops with jeweled accessories, opulent gowns, and endless fashion mastery. 

The event was also a great opportunity to contribute and bring awareness to Venice’s preservation and renovation efforts. For more information about Save Venice, its fundraising efforts, and events, please visit www.SaveVenice.Org

Laura Kim, Rebecca Vanyo, Fernando Garcia, & Frederick Ilchman. Photo: Matteo Prandoni/
Rebecca Vanyo, Kerin Leidel & Peter Leidel. Photo: Matteo Prandoni/

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  1. Nancy says:

    What a wonderful event! I especially loved our bathroom selfies… so fun!

  2. Gabrielle Mercury says:

    Hello there,
    You’re Gorgeous