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NEW YORK — With her latest project, Donatella Versace is looking to help children in need through creativity and the arts.
For the second time, the house of Versace will sponsor the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Gala and Studio Party this year, and, as part of the partnership, the designer and the museum’s education department developed a special global project called Art Unites to help underserved children in the U.S. and China — asking children to draw images based on the theme of friendship.
Versace will provide canvases and art supplies to 500 children from the Starlight Children’s Foundation in the U.S. and 900 children from Jet Li’s One Foundation in China. The fashion house will then turn each of the resulting drawings into a canvas tote, which it will sell at Versace boutiques around the world and through the luxury sample sale e-tailer Gilt Groupe for about $200 to $250 in October. All proceeds from the sale will go to Starlight and the One Foundation.
“I have been blessed with incredible success in my life,” Versace said. “And part of that success means being able to give back to people in need. As a mother, children’s causes are especially close to my heart, and I am honored to be able to work with the Whitney on the creation of a program that inspires children through the arts.”
The initiative will kick off on July 1 with an afternoon event at the Whitney with children from the New York chapter of the Starlight foundation. Versace herself will be on hand, along with an undisclosed artist, to assist these children with their drawings.
Once all the drawings are assembled, a panel of judges, which will be led by the designer and Adam Weinberg, the director of the Whitney, will pick a winner from each charity. Versace plans to feature the two winning designs on her runway show in Milan in September.
The Whitney’s Gala and Studio Party is scheduled for Oct. 19, with co-chairs Versace, Penélope Cruz and Liz Swig.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Versace and the One Foundation also unveiled a second Versace One Foundation Children’s Centre in Shuimo, Wenchuan, in China’s Sichuan Province. It aims to help 500 children and their families whose lives were impacted by the earthquake in that region last year. The first such center opened in San Jian last year, which Versace and Li subsequently toured.