As the world’s beautiful things descended with Promethean grace upon the red – or rather, magenta – carpet for the 20th Annual Life Ball AIDS charity gala, there really was nothing that could dampen the life-affirming energy and extravagance on show. And with the likes of Antonio Banderas, Naomi Campbell, Milla Jovovich and Bill Clinton making an appearance, this party’s star is burning brighter than ever before.
For the past 12 years, MINI has made a very special contribution to the fanfare in the form of a custom one-off car that is auctioned off for charity. Each one is stylized by a famous designer, and for 2012 the new MINI Roadster got a sleek makeover at the hands of fashion world matriarch and honorable Italian spitfire Franca Sozzani.
In keeping with the regal attire of this modern Viennese ball, the MINI Roadster was dressed to the nines. True to her style, Sozzani concluded the best way to find inspiration for designing a car was to personify it. “I thought of MINI as a beautiful woman who put on an elegant floral scarf when she drives a MINI Roadster,” she explained.
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And elegant it is. Dipped in a luxuriously rich layer of Deepest Purple in a matte finish, the base tone of this ride can’t help but be admired. Rally stripes and mirror caps pop in metallic gold, and a fanciful floral pattern laces the cloth roof and selected highlights on the body. A full leather interior that’s also marked by floral designs and the Sozzani signature emblazoned on the seats makes the one-off design a complete knockout.
“In Franca Sozzani we have found an experienced fashion expert who devotes her artistic prowess primarily to colour. We are now thrilled to be able to bring this joint project to fruition,” says Anders Warming, Head of MINI Design.
But there’s more to Life Ball than a glittering facade. The fundraiser, organized by HIV/AIDS charity AIDS LIFE, has come far since its inception in 1993, but it knows there’s a long road ahead. As the event reached its third decade, Life Ball Founder Gery Keszler and notable speakers gathered on the morning of Life Ball to take stock of their mission, and embraced the improvement in cultural preconceptions of AIDS sufferers. “Today, the Life Ball has to fulfill different tasks. It is not a time for pure provocation any more,” Keszler observed. “Life Ball is all about solidarity,” Milla Jovovich claimed. Franca noted the unique spirit inspired by the event and impressive community. “It’s about the strength of the joy of someone who really believes in what they are doing.”
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Hints of the fire-themed party tricks to come were dropped by Keszler during the press conference, but nothing could have prepared us properly for the bombastic displays of zealous revelry and fanfare at Vienna’s majestic City Hall later in the evening. Throngs gathered here to join in the celebrations. At the heart of it all was the iconic Magenta Carpet, lavishly adorned with six grand pianos, glittering lights, and a river of coiffed and costumed divas, darlings, and dignitaries that set the stage aflame. From ballet performances to Viennese waltzes, to a full-on foam party, this was not the place for conservatism. Incredible live performances by The Scissor Sisters, Cheyenne Jackson, and Gloria Estefan set the tone, and a stunningly surreal fashion show hosted by Vogue Italia left us breathless.
Life Ball 2012 brilliantly communicated the very real challenges of fighting AIDS and social stigma, and did so creatively through this truly stunning jubilee. If you’d like to donate to some good causes, just check out the links below to help make a difference now. Together, we can beat this thing. And that’s something worth celebrating.