A Guest List That Rivals The Oscars at the First-Ever Caring for Women Dinner

“I had a vision, and it’s exactly what happened,” Salma Hayek Pinault tells me at the Pool on Park Avenue in New York, where a star-studded room has gathered as part of that dream. She’s now spent 14 years working with the Kering Foundation to support women survivors of violence, and had a hand in everything from flower arrangements to Ginori 1975 tableware for the night’s first-ever Caring for Women dinner. “I wanted it to be chic, classy—as a sign of respect—dressing and having a beautiful meal where we can ponder about the important things in life,” she says of the black tie event hosted by Anderson Cooper that she co-chairs with Gloria Steinem, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Julie Mehretu and more.

The hope is to create an intimate evening that motivates people to participate and “to be inspired by the survivors and to understand that this affects everyone,” says Hayek Pinault. Through feminist partnerships in six countries, including grassroots movements like Global Fund for Women (whose representative Sandra Macias del Villar wears a Voz ensemble woven by indigenous women in Chile) and Ms. Foundation for Women, the Kering Foundation has helped survivors escape violence and rebuild their lives. And for its inaugural dinner featuring a plant-based menu curated by Chef Dominique Crenn, the guest list rivals that of the Oscars: Leo DiCaprio, whose take on the dress code includes a black baseball cap, sits with Hayek Pinault and husband François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s CEO and foundation founder, at a spotlit table where Jodie Turner-Smith glides over and surrounding attendees sneak selfies. Emma Watson chats with Lauren and Andrés Santo Domingo across plates of tomato tarts and a few feet from the stage where Andra Day kicks off her silver Gucci platforms (“I just can’t sing really well in heels”) before performing a triple-song set punctuated by a standing ovation.

The many fashion houses under Kering’s umbrella, including Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, and Alexander McQueen, donated one-of-a-kind offerings to the event’s auction, and top earners include a Saint Laurent resin sculpture by Helmut Lang in collaboration with Anthony Vaccarello that sells for $140,000, the same price that Gucci’s nine-day VIP tour of Italy and Balenciaga’s couture fitting bring in, respectively. With Christie’s ambassador Lydia Fenet promising that a duo of custom Brioni suits will transform at least one of their wearers into a Legends of the Fall-era Brad Pitt (snapped up for $45,000 by a guest in a coordinating gown and trucker hat) and reminding everyone that only Lady Gaga and museums have the originals of a size 39 1/2 pair of reproduced McQueen armadillo boots (which sell to the same table for $70,000), over a million dollars are raised in an hour. One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to the cause, a fact that survivor Kiesha Preston notes after sharing stories of her personal experience with the audience. “I feel like for such a long time, domestic violence wasn’t something that we even talked about,” Preston says. “Being in this room where people are putting their money where their mouth is feels like real change.” Steps away, Watson agrees. “There’s still so much stigma, and it’s still this silent epidemic—the fact that it’s so out in the open in the middle of New York with this group of people means that we really are making progress—we must be making progress.”

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