“It’s such a lyrical language, isn’t it?” one of the few nonbilingual attendees of the Venetian Heritage’s annual black-tie gala said on Monday night, listening in on a neighboring conversation. “It’s okay to eavesdrop if you can’t understand what they’re saying.” Italian doyennes, most of whom spoke in their native tongue, and New York-based Fellini fans convened on the second floor of the Pershing Square Center awaiting “Caro Federico,” (translation: “Dear Federico”) a Guido Torlonia-helmed production in homage to the late director Federico Fellini. The evening raised funds for Venetian Heritage, a nonprofit which seeks to preserve the city’s Italian cultural institutions.
“I viewed him mostly as my father’s friend. To me, Federico was one person as my father’s friend and another when it came to his films,” Isabella Rossellini said, procuring a glass of white wine from a passed tray early in the evening. “He was a very funny man so whenever I think of him I have a smile on my face.”
A procession of floor-grazing taffeta and chiffon (mostly of the Fendi variety; the label sponsored the event) trickled into the Frank Gehry-designed theater to take in the 90-minute tributary treatise of the beloved filmmaker. Amusing archival interviews with the director as well as clips spanning the breadth of his work, from “La Strada,” “La Dolce Vita” and “8 ½,” rolled with Edward Norton and Diane Lane taking turns narrating.
Afterwards, guests including Lauren Remington Platt, Fe Fendi, Zani Gugelmann, Shala Monroque, Laure Heriard Dubreuil, Aaron Young, Waris Ahluwalia and Maggie Betts feathered out into the lobby-turned-dining area, where cream-clothed tables and vases flush with hydrangeas and orchids beckoned. “I’m glad the humor came across,” said Lane, beaming in an ecru Fendi pantsuit, of her oration. “I was so happy to hear the audience’s laughter. You never know if you can deliver the laughs!”
Jessica Diehl peeled away for a cigarette while guests nestled into their dinner seats. Meanwhile, Gugelmann inspected Giovanna Battaglia’s glittering baguette slung on the back of her chair, a perfect companion to her gilded Fendi swing dress. At the next table, an animated Genevieve Jones caught up with tablemate Linda Fargo. Nearby, Alba Clemente introduced Peter Marino to a bewildered Norton. “I don’t usually wear such nice stuff,” Marino ribbed, as Norton marveled at the biker hat and leather chap splendor. “I got dressed up for you f---ers.”