One of the summer’s glitziest event in aid of endangered species and featured London’s A-lists of fashion, society, conservation, business and philanthropy, writes William Cash
Exotic masques and hats inspired by endangered species were the theme of one of the glitziest events of the summer fundraising season last night when HRH Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall hosted the Animal Ball at Lancaster House whilst wearing matching masks.
The bespoke masks worn by VIP guests were all designed by leading contemporary artists and couture fashion designers, including Charlotte Tilbury, Alice Temperley, Prada, Philip Treacy, Laura Cathcart Millinery, Philip Colbert and Missoni.
The Animal Ball was once again hosted at Lancaster House with the rooms packed with celebrities and names from London’s A-lists of fashion, society, conservation, business and philanthropy. The evening began with an exclusive cocktail reception at St James¹s Palace hosted by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall who are patrons of the conservation charity set up to honour the memory of the Duchess’s late brother Mark Shand.
More than £1 million was raised last night, including eight live auction lots, with the money supporting Elephant Family. The lots included a six-day tour of the USA with a ‘Herd of 100 Elephants’, a trip to ‘Gorilla Nest’ in Rwanda to see the endangered mountain gorilla, and a polar bear trip to the Arctic.
VIP guests included Tracey Emin, Vivienne Westwood, Alexa Chung, Emilia Wickstead, Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, Sabine Getty, Ben Elliot, Charlotte Tilbury and film producer husband George Waud, Charlotte Dellal, Rebecca Corbin-Murray, Daisy Lowe and former Miss Scotland Nicola Wood and Donna Air.
The drizzling weather meant that the gardens of Lancaster House were abandoned in favour of the grand labyrinth of palatial rooms- transformed into a tropical carnival of coloured parasols, Indian sunshades, and exotic flora, fruits and flowers inside the stately palace where the Queen’s coronation dinner was hosted in 1952.
The venue has always been challenging for dining purposes as there is no kitchen and food has to be carried on trays down corridors redolent of the Edwardian age. But the organisers overcame this with a largely vegetarian menu which is more manageable to prepare than a meat-heavy one.
There was also a ‘Dessert Room’ where Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic conjured up a medley of pink, green and strawberry-coloured exotic puddings.
Leading fashion talents who had made special masks and hats for the masques included Philip Treacy, Prada, Alice Temperley, Chloe, Peter Pilotto, Philip Colbert, Sabyasachi, Kenzo, Charlotte Olympia, Missoni and Ralph Lauren.
Artists were asked to create their masques from their favourite animal or bird or exotic creature that was endangered. These included butterflies, tigers, crabs, birds, sea horses, leopards, zebras and elephants,
The most talked about sets of couture masques were created by the milliners Philip Treacy, Piers Atkinson and Laura Cathcart. Treacy chose peacocks, Atkinson butterflies whilst Cathcart (just named as the number one Royal Ascot British milliner by Harper’s Bazaar) chose lovebirds with guests like former Miss Scotland Nicola Wood sporting a tropical headpiece featuring two small yellow and green African parrots.
‘The masks are an opportunity to draw attention to the plights of lovebirds like the Fischer lovebird which is under threat today’ says Cathcart. ‘Lovebirds are also the most romantic of birds as they mate for life’.
The Animal Ball raises money for habitat conservation projects in Asia and helps to preserve the world’s greatest masterpieces from extinction. The charity exists to protect one of the biggest and most intelligent animals there is, the Asian elephant – a species whose population numbers have dropped by 90 per cent in the last 100 years. To date, the charity has funded 150 projects in six countries across Asia.
William Cash is founder and editor at large of Spear’s