I was beyond psyched to attend the Art for Life party in South Hampton this year. It’s always an evening filled with a lot of culture, swankiness, and fun. Everything from being shuttled to the mammoth tent on the picturesque Fairview Farms to the explosion of art, music, and fashion that you’re bombarded with upon entering makes this something to look forward to each year.
The evening marked the 20th anniversary of the Art for Life foundation and 16th anniversary of the Gala in South Hampton. The Roaring Twenties theme was beyond suitable to celebrate two decades of unlocking opportunities for young Americans through access to the art world.
The Roaring Twenties marked an era of unprecedented freedom for women as well as an increased visibility of black culture.
The Roaring Twenties marked an era of unprecedented freedom for women as well as an increased visibility of black culture. Art for Life is one of the few charity events or galas held in the Hamptons where the African American community is very visible in attendance. When I go to a lot of other parties or events in the Hamptons, I’m usually one of the few black women present, so it’s always a great feeling to walk into a room that has a more even racial and cultural distribution and an even more dominant presence of successful and influential people all under one roof.
It was like walking into a speakeasy overlooking the Bay. Wooden crates and liquor barrels were comouflaged by fringed bodices and beaded hems, and the waitstaff circulated the room offering Bombay Sapphire boos after hors d’oeuvres followed by rosé or sparkling wine.
I was beyond impressed with how great everyone looked. It seemed that all the guests were just as excited to attend a Gatsby-themed party as I was! They planned their outfits to the T!
Some couples were so cute with the theme. They looked so amazing and so perfect together. . .I was jealous!
This was my favorite couple of the evening. . .how cute is he with his little hat on?!
Too adorable. #MommysLittleGentleman
While others skipped out on the Roaring Twenties theme, they did not look any less well dressed for the gala. Everyone looked beautiful.
Some patrons turned to big fashion labels like Herve Leger for their twenties-inspired looks.
Angela Simmons turned to popular dress designer Jovani for her embellished number at the gala. . .
. . .While others like myself and my fellow FashionBomb blogger Claire Sulmers pulled an oldie but goodie from my closet.
My dress is from Topshop. I bought it four years ago when they opened their first location in Soho. It was from their Dress Me Up line and MAAAAN was it a hit at the party. I’ve never been more overwhelmed by compliments at any one event. People just loved this dress! #YaayMe!
I felt pretty and sparkly and sexy! Just call me Mrs. Va-Va-Vroom for the rest of the night.
Everyone got creative with their headpieces and accessories, turning everything from flowers to Chanel belts into flapper accessories.
There was no element of fashion from the Roaring Twenties that was missing from this party. Like Bevy Smith said, “They nailed it!”
I took a minute to pop into a few photos with Russell Simmons, founder of the Art for Life foundation, Marc Leder of the board of directors, and some partygoers before heading into the dining room for dinner.
After the cocktail hour, it was time to head inside for dinner. The dining room was beautifully decorated and the food was divine! I felt like the menu was made specifically for me with the savory jerk chicken, plantains, and rice and black beans. #JamaicanInTheHouse There was a party in my mouth and my belly did not want it to end! #NomNom However there were also lots of vegan and gluten-free offerings for each course of the menu as well.
There was a party in my mouth and my belly did not want it to end!
Dave Chappelle was one of the honorees of the evening.
I had a chance to catch up with him after dinner. He was sitting outside on the steps watching several white swans play in the bay in the still of the night. Much unlike his vibrant and intoxincatingly comedic self on stage, he was soft spoken and sweet, and he seemed to be enjoying some of the simpler pleasures of the evening. He said it was his first time in the Hamptons and it was a great experience for him.
Amidst all the glam and the delicious entrees were displays of the artwork by children and adults who directly benefitted from this charity. While looking at the artwork, listening to the honorees’ speeches during dinner, and seeing the recipients of the Kimora Lee Simmons Scholarship and graduates of the Rush Teen Programs, you really begin to understand the objective of Art for Life.
No one really needs art to live, so of course some people may wonder: How does art help people? Access to nice artwork is typically associated with the rich and the affluent, so how can giving children access to art be beneficial to their life structure or quality of life?
How can giving children access to art be beneficial to their life structure or quality of life?
Art is necessary for our creative development. Whether you’re a singer, a dancer, a comedian, a DJ, or a painter, cultivating your creative interests gives you awareness to what you like or skills you may possess that would otherwise go unnoticed without artistic programs or activities. A quote from Bevy Smith said it best: “Art for Life is about children, learning, and exploring their creativity not just learning about how to be an artist, but how to be inspired by art!”
There was a live auction where everything from taking over Russell Simmons’ Twitter account for a day (estimated value $15,000) to a dinner date with Selita Ebanks (estimated value $3000) was sold.
The event was everything I expected plus more. One of my favorite parts of the evening in previous years was hitting the dance floor and getting to party with the attendees. However, this year, that segment was short-lived due to the lengthy speeches. A few other patrons I spoke with complained about this and spent a lot of time outside by the bar socializing until it was time to hit the dance floor again. I was a little disappointed but not mad. We were here for a cause, not for me to get my groove on too much.
Perfect theme, perfectly dressed and fashionable attendees, a truly special cause, and a magnificent evening! Hope to see you next year at the next Art for Life gala in South Hampton. xoxoSB
Photos by Tovah-marie Bembridge