A few weeks ago Finland Center Foundation helped to put fun back into fundraising. Some 150 party people gathered at La Pomme club for the The Arctic Jungle Fashion Gala, socializing and dancing the night away. The event, where designer dresses were sold at a live action, was organized to raise funds for the Congolese Panzi Hospital.
TV-presenter Annabella Åsvik served as the master of ceremonies and welcomed everyone to the event around 6.30 p.m. Dressed in a shiny dark brown Stella McCartney dress, Åsvik told the audience the fashion fundraiser was meant to show that “we can be beautiful from both inside and out.” Though the evening had a Finnish and African theme, the atmosphere at La Pomme was undeniably New York chic. Little black designer dresses, sequence bits, beautiful models and a free-flowing open bar all created a true New York club feel.
Before the party kicked off, former UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, brought the audience greetings from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has visited Panzi hospital and its founder Denis Mukwege on several occasions, and has witnessed the battered women’s suffering firsthand. Egeland thanked Finland Center for its efforts “to help Mukwege and the world community to change one of the biggest injustices of our time.”
Afterwards singers Dorothy Bishop and Alexandra Alexis brought the party spirit back to La Pomme. While the audience seemingly enjoyed hearing Alexandra Alexis’s new song, it was Bishop’s disco beats that made the crowd go wild and momentarily turned the event into a big dance party. “Crazy!” exclaimed Bishop in her shiny silver dress.
“The event was fabulous. The audience was really fun!” said Bishop afterward. She said she especially enjoyed performing to Europeans, as she was able to sing a song from the Eurovision Song Content. Bishop was happy to be able to lend a helping hand to the women of Africa, having visited the continent herself. “I feel privileged to be able to help through music,” she said.
The evening’s highlight for most people was the glamorous fashion show, led by Finnish supermodel Angelika Kallio, and the live auction that followed. Designers such as Nicole Miller, Anna Sui and IVANAhelsinki had donated clothing for the show.
Professional auctioneer Amanda Ladd got audience members to compete hard for the best dresses. The winners scored such deals as a Nicole Miller wedding gown for $300, her black cocktail dress for $200 and IVANAhelsinki’s summer dress for $275.
Mr. Ljungqvist of Sweden was one of the lucky ones, as he managed to win the bets on quite a few dresses. “I don’t know how many I bought. I’ll give them to my girlfriends,” he said, though quickly ensuring that “I only have three girlfriends!”
The fashion show included professional models like Kallio and Rosa Korhonen, as well as newbies, such as Mia Dallorso. The Finn, who has lived in the US for two decades, said she was initially nervous about modeling in the show. “Everyone had worked so hard for this event,” said Dallorso, who donned a blue Nicole Miller scarf dress, among many others. “But I think it was super!” “The event went incredibly well, the gala was beautiful,” rejoiced Åsvik, too.
But as much fun as New Yorkers had at the event, the biggest joy will undoubtedly be experienced by the Congolese women who will receive the auction’s proceeds in the coming months. Click here to see a collage of the photos from the evening by Stewart of NY. See a video of the event below: