What do you get when you cross an artist, a designer, a filmmaker, and a musician with one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century? A room full of creativity and one hell of a party! Last night, the Gordon Parks Foundation brought out a stylish bunch to Cipriani Wall Street to celebrate its namesake, the legendary humanitarian photographer Gordon Parks. It wouldn’t be a proper philanthropic bash without some amazing awards. The foundation honored those who support and promote artistic activity, like Mellody Hobson and George Lucas, who pioneered the Gordon Parks Arts Hall to open at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in 2015, and others who use creative means to enrich and inspire the next generation like Lorna Simpson, Vera Wang, Ed Zwick, and Irvin Mayfield. “Everything Gordon Parks embodied has inspired and influenced my work and my life,” Wang said in her acceptance speech. “ I’m a big fan of Gordon Parks!” Lucas told us.
Alicia Keys and Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean co-chair the foundation with Donna Karen and Karl Lagerfeld. Chelsea Clinton, Soledad O’Brien, Leslie Parks, and Adam Gopnik were in attendance to introduce the evening’s honorees. As for the fashion set en présence? The likes of Chrissy Teigan, Karlie Kloss, Stefano Tonchi, Edward Enninful, Anne Fulenwider, and Joy Venturini Bianchi came out for the eve (just to name a few!). Another very special guest was Dr. Roscoe Brown, Captain and Commander of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group Gordon Parks was assigned to cover and record during World War II. They battled not only Hitler’s Luftwaffe, but racism of the era as well. As we dined on delectable Cipriani fare—fresh burrata with grape tomatoes and micro basil, extremely tender prime roast of beef with potato lyonnaise and broccolini bouquets, and chocolate mousse cake to top it off—Hugh Hildesley took to the stage for a rousing live auction of covetable Gordon Parks prints and a trip for two to attend the Chanel Spring 2015 collection in Paris. Following the lucrative auction, all-in-all the event raised over $1 million, Janelle Monáe took the stage with an energetic rendition of the Jackson 5’s “ABC” that had the whole crowd dancing along. The party would soon move upstairs, to a disco-lit dance floor where Swizz Beatz and DJ Runna kept the crowd shaking it until after midnight. We knew it was past our bedtime but we couldn’t resist—Vera bouncing to a sticky “Blurred Lines” beat is just too good to pass up!