Old Billingsgate Market was transformed into an incredible playground of the imagination for Russian Rhapsody on Monday 23 April, as hundreds of guests turned out for an evening of classical music, cocktails, fine cuisine – and charity, courtesy of an amazing collection of ‘haute couture’ toys, which were auctioned by Christie’s to raise funds for the Naked Heart Foundation, top model Natalia Vodianova’s charity which designs, finances and constructs playgrounds for Russian children.
A pair of spectacular rocking horses by Valentino and Jean-Paul Gaultier; a unique bearbrick doll dressed by Karl Lagerfeld; a stunning children’s puppet theatre, styled exclusively by John Galliano; an immaculate – and priceless – dolls house created by Christian Lacroix; a beautiful garden swing by Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy; an intricate musical box by Giorgio Armani; and a set of Russian wooden dolls by Stefano Pilati – all are amongst the incredible ‘haute couture toys’ created by the world’s greatest fashion icons, which were sold to the highest bidder at the charity auction at Russian Rhapsody.
Fuelled by flowing Moёt & Chandon Champagne and Hennessy X.O cognac, alongside a menu created by multiple-Michelin starred French chef Joel Robuchon, guests showed their appreciation by opening their wallets for a wonderful cause. The money raised is enough to create four new playgrounds in Russia.
This annual black tie celebration of Russian culture and style is always a key social date in the Russian Economic Forum week in London. Amongst the 900 guests in 2007 were Jemima Khan, Lord & Lady Lloyd Webber, Lady Gabriella Windsor & Lord Frederick Windsor, Alexey Smertin, Andrei Melnichenko, Nat Rothschild, Oleg Tinkov, Dan MacMillan, Astrid Munoz, Nicky Haslam, Stephen Webster, Julien MacDonald, Riccardo Tisci, Leonid Mikhelson, Jasmine Guinness, Vladimir Pozner, Dasha Zhukova, Mohamed & Camilla Al Fayed, Gareth Pugh, Suzy Menkes, Aliona Doletskaya, Alexander Lebedev, Sergei Soloviov, Nikolay Uskov, Hans-Joerg Rudloff, Roger Munnings, Justin Portman and Natalia Vodianova – who gave a moving speech about the importance of the playgrounds that the evening helped to finance.
Entertainment was provided by none other than Denis Matsuev, named by some as the world’s finest classical pianist, who was accompanied by the acclaimed cellist Borislav Strulev, as well as an eclectic mixture of choral music from the New London Children’s Choir, and cool jazz from the Zoe Rahman Sextet. The groundbreaking Incognitos jazz ensemble, alongside the Grey Goose vodka cocktails after dinner, kept guests dancing until carriages whisked them back to their hotels – and to Day Two of the Russian Economic Forum.