2009 May 18

Water, Water Everywhere...

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Eva Longoria and Gery Keszler Eva Longoria and Gery Keszler
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(VIENNA) A select contingent of New York’s very own fashion set once again hopped aboard a chartered Austria Airlines flight for Vienna last Thursday, bound for Life Ball’s 17th annual charity extravaganza. Unlike previous seasons, the airborne antics were kept at a minimum--but still, very few slept. After a quick respite in the Vienna airport welcome lounge, guests were whisked off to their hotels to prepare for the night’s revels. The weekend festivities officially kicked-off with a cocktail reception at the Le Meridien Hotel, where celebs like Katy Perry, Roisin Murphy, and Ivana Trump joined founder Gery Keszler to toast the event, Europe's largest charity fundraiser for AIDS/HIV research. NYC scenesters Richie Rich, Suzanne Bartsch, and Amanda Lepore mingled with the event’s designers, The Blonds, while sipping cocktails and thankfully, tons of Red Bull. Meanwhile, Kai Kühne vamped for the cameras with Murphy, Perry showed off her vogue-ing skills with the House of Extravaganza crew and veteran Life Baller Lydia Hearst worked the room in a bright Hervé Léger number. Countless cocktails and plates of curry (yes, they feed their guests) later, the real party people headed off into the dawn--to outdoor after-hours club Volksgarten perhaps?

Just when it seems like the celebrations can’t get any larger or louder, Saturday was spilling over with love…literally. In lieu of the typical red carpet, a gigantic sea of blue was laid out in front of City Hall, allowing attendees to show off their custom creations. This year’s theme of "Water: Let the Love Flow" kicked off a four-year series inspired by the elements. Sailors, pirates, coral reefs, mermaids, lobster men, water lillies: you name it, they created it. The stage was also a homage to the “source of all life,” with King Triton holding court over the festivities flanked by a huge pool, complete with gondolas that ushered costume contestants past the night’s judges. Unfortunately, the theatrical presentation soaked the ground, leaving many long gowns ruined--but no one seemed to care once the stage lit up. By far, the best entrance came courtesy of Amber Valletta on her blue crystal covered chariot sponsored by Vöslauer (natch).

Surprisingly, Bill Clinton made an appearance at the actual event--usually he hosts a dinner the night before--helping Fran Drescher award the Swarovski Crystal of Hope to Trevor Peter, a member of the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative in Botswana. Eva Longoria replaced Sharon Stone as this year’s amfAR rep in her own aquatic interpretation, a very curvy pink mermaid-esque gown. But it was Murphy’s amped performance of “The Time Is Now” that finally got the crowd moving and truly embodied the charity's “celebrate life” mantra. Patricia Field introduced the fashion portion of the extravaganza and lived out a life long dream: she arrived on an Egyptian barge à la Cleopatra. And the designers certainly delivered, sending Pamela Anderson out in the first look--rocking a graffiti boom box--followed by countless sparkly confections from their Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 collections. Thankfully Connie Girl had prepped the models on the appropriate "fierce" strut, sending revelers into a dancing frenzy which Perry kept alive for her performance of "Hot N Cold" as she descended from a suspended seashell. At Life Ball, everything is over-the-top.

Soon the party moved inside the glowing and smoke filled rooms of City Hall. Pink mermaids--ironically hawking cigarettes--performed underwater in a huge tank while Sister Sledge sang to an ecstatic crowd on the main dance floor--just one of the many outrageous sights and sounds we spotted. Hopefully, the night exceeds last year's €1.4 million raised. The Daily's certainly looking forward to putting down roots once again at the 2010 Earth celebration...

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