LuisaViaRoma and UNICEF’s Special Evening in St. Barts

LuisaViaRoma and UNICEF’s Special Evening in St. Barts

LuisaViaRoma and UNICEF’s Special Evening in St. Barts

The star-studded 2022 Winter Gala was the night to remember

The star-studded 2022 Winter Gala was the night to remember

Text: Dania Curvy

On a special evening just shy of the new year, December 29th, 2022, Italian luxury online retailer LuisaViaRoma in tandem with The United Nations Children’s Fund–also known as UNICEF–  and Red Sea International Film Festival came together to close out the year with a bang.

Set in paradise, on the small, celebrity-favorite island of St. Barts’ Emeraude Beach, the world’s elite came together for one of the most exclusive charity galas of the season.

“Philanthropy is something you do from the heart because you are a human being,” says Andrea Panconesi, CEO of LuisaViaRoma in an interview prior to the event. The small family-run business turned e-commerce luxury powerhouse’s mission to support children stems from familial values of their own. Panconesi goes on to explain that all the elements of the event are not mutually exclusive but very much intertwined with compassion. “As a whole, music, art, fashion, and philanthropy [are not very different] because it’s coming from your own nature.”

BAIE DE SAINT JEAN, SAINT BARTHELEMY – DECEMBER 29: Karolina Kurkova attends the LuisaViaRoma for UNICEF Winter Gala at Emeraude on December 29, 2022 in St Barths. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for LuisaViaRoma)

With five years of experience hosting biannual galas each year, months of preparation for this custom-built event location encapsulated the perfect ambiance for the one-night extravaganza. 

As a magical sea breeze blew over an evening of glamour aligned with charitable efforts, models, international celebrities, and philanthropists trickled in dressed to the nines. Model and presenter Karolina Kurkova, stopped before the cameras on the red carpet, donning a New Year’s appropriate Dolce and Gabbana two-piece ensemble that glimmered with each pose. 

Guests sipped cocktails and mingled in the custom gallery space eyeing auction items soon to be bid. From the colorful paintings of 11-year-old child prodigy, Andres Valencia to automotives such as the late Elvis Presley’s motorcycle, the expansive space was soon filled to the brim with living and static works of art.

Actor Naomi Watts, in attendance with her family, delivered a strong opening statement sternly urging partygoers taking their seats to “dig deep” in their pockets. And with that, the live auction began. A surge of excitement and anticipation amplified the room as Swiss auctioneer Simon de Pury rattled off soaring bids into the hundred thousands of the token items. LED paddles flew into the air like fireflies, one after the next. The celebrity presenters–including Rita Ora, who finished with a musical hymn–were an added touch.

BAIE DE SAINT JEAN, SAINT BARTHELEMY – DECEMBER 29: Rita Ora and Simon De Pury auction off Chris Levine’s Lightness of Being onstage during the LuisaViaRoma for UNICEF Winter Gala at Emeraude on December 29, 2022 in St Barths. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for LuisaViaRoma)

After a much-needed break of big spending, celebrants took to the gallery for a cocktail and a smoke break. Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby Maguire, sporting black t-shirts, jeans, and baseball caps, chatted with friends and enjoyed the cool air. While seated, one could enjoy the parade colorful ensembles of rapper French Montana rocking pink and The Combs’ twins in matching catsuits.

BAIE DE SAINT JEAN, SAINT BARTHELEMY – DECEMBER 29: Lenny Kravitz performs onstage at the LuisaViaRoma for UNICEF Winter Gala at Emeraude on December 29, 2022 in St Barths. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for LuisaViaRoma)

The performances were one of the biggest highlights of the evening. Opening with rock and roll icon, Lenny Kravitz, guests flooded to the stage with excitement. The 58-year-old musical icon crooned hits like “American Woman” and “Dig in,” while sporting a crystal-chained top, mid-length jacket paired with leather pants, and thigh-high boots, staying true to his effervescent essence of cool.

Following was headlining performer and rapper, Drake, though he felt otherwise. “I feel like Lenny Kravitz was the [headlining artist] and, I’m the shitty second act,” he joked. Guests stood on chairs and rapped along to “Nonstop” and Travis Scotts’ “SICKOMODE”. Just when the crowd thought his set had ended and dance music began to play, the record-breaking artist interjects: “Don’t you dare start playing hard techno while I’m on this stage.” What followed was a heartfelt moment before he exited, as he MCed the crowd to sing along to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”.

BAIE DE SAINT JEAN, SAINT BARTHELEMY – DECEMBER 29: Drake performs onstage at the LuisaViaRoma for UNICEF Winter Gala at Emeraude on December 29, 2022 in St Barths. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for LuisaViaRoma)

As the event came to a close, those who knew shuffled off to exclusive after-parties or back to their lodgings. Some were lucky enough to receive a final farewell wave from Mike Tyson as his car pulled away.

Panconesi’s explanation rang true; the best of all worlds synchronized ever so effortlessly. The result, was over 3 million euros were raised in donations. One could say the gala was a tremendous success, certainly from a social standpoint, but the larger impact was overwhelming.

Credits: Images courtesy of Karla Otto via Getty Images

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