Cirque du Soleil was flying high last Friday with the opening of Kurios, the Montreal-based troupe’s 35th offering, making its US premiere under the blue and gold tent next to AT&T Park. The enthusiastic audience (including Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom) came primed for fun—some dressed in vintage garb in keeping with the production’s steampunk design motif.
While the various acrobats and contortionists are spellbinding, as usual, it’s that aesthetic vision that really makes this production soar. Kudos to director Michel Laprise and his design team, who realize a world of gadgets and gizmos that unspool before us like Alice’s journey through Wonderland.
At one point, a tea party that could have been straight out of Lewis Carroll’s fable is interrupted by a performer who scales an ever-higher stack of chairs upon the table. Suddenly, a mirror-image tea party appears overhead, all its guests hanging upside-down, while one descends his own pile of chairs, until the two men meet in the middle. Miraculous.
As with other Cirque productions I’ve seen, the storyline is so scant as to hardly bear mentioning, and the comedy routines pale beside the physical feats—an “invisible circus” act being the worst offender. (Where are Bill Irwin and David Shiner when you need them?) But these are minor quibbles in a night that otherwise levitates on currents of spectacle and wonder.
Kurios plays in San Francisco through January 18.
A Moroccan theme pervaded the air at the Drever Family Foundation’s annual Hotbed gala at the family estate in Tiburon. Comedienne Kathy Griffin presided over the evening’s entertainment, which included a Traver Rains fashion show and an auction. A custom bicycle donated by family friend Robin Williams fetched $20,000; all proceeds benefited education and the arts. Photos by Drew Altizer Photography
New York’s James Beard Foundation took their act on the road this fall, staging “Taste America” dinners in 10 cities across the country. Their penultimate destination was San Francisco, where celebrated local chefs (and a ringer from Austin) displayed their culinary skills October 24 before an appreciative audience of several hundred in the Ritz-Carlton’s newly remodeled ballroom.
During a reception before the main event, guests savored hors d’oeuvres created by Tyler Florence, Daniel Patterson, Jennifer Puccio, Staffan Terje and the Ritz’s own Michael Rotondo, before being ushered into the ballroom where Michael Mina teamed with Austin’s Paul Qui for a four-course dinner. The fare ranged from sea urchin to squab, and was accompanied by wines from Wine Road and beer from Stella Artois (designed to serve as a palate cleanser, according to co-emcee Leslie Sbrocco, who had just returned from an appearance with Hoda and Kathie Lee on the Today show).
While diners savored their Flowering Ginger and Persimmon Panna Cotta, a live auction raised funds for the James Beard Foundation, named in honor of the late cookbook author and TV personality. One of his contemporary counterparts, Jacques Pepin, was in attendance, and graciously posed for so many photos it’s a wonder he got to sample any of the food set before him.
The Ritz-Carlton’s newly reminted ballroom was designed to banish any whiff of institutional banality. In place of sedate creams and beiges, the room was dominating by a graphic floral carpet rendered in Wagnerian grays and blacks—designed to evoke San Francisco’s foggy skies, the publicist explained. It was a welcome change, and a perfect complement to the bold flavors tickling guests’ palates.
Photographs by Gamma Nine
It was a night of excitement and incredible fundraising when Bruno Mars appeared at the Civic Center for a high-energy concert that rocked the block. Before the concert, esteemed guests and San Francisco society gathered at City Hall for a beautiful pre-party. Attendees included Jennifer and Joe Montana, and the Honorable Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Generous guests mingled with some of the children who have been saved through the hard work of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, and—as in a scene from a fairytale—granted some of the youngsters’ wishes.
Following the concert, Bay Area legend and internationally recognized artist MC Hammer hosted an epic after-party for supporters, alongside pop performer Will.i.am.
Nine million dollars was raised that night, with proceeds going toward UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital projects. The hospital’s new facility at Mission Bay will be part of a 289-bed, integrated hospital complex for children, women and cancer patients.
Photos by Drew Altizer drewaltizer.com
On October 25, the Fairmont San Francisco was the setting for a glamorous evening reminiscent of Paris Fashion Week. Guests experienced the energy and passion of the City of Lights at the Replete Skincare Fashion Show featuring designers Franck Sorbier and on aura tout vu. The event was touted to be the most elaborate Parisian couture fashion event to arrive in San Francisco since Jean Paul Gaultier in 2012.
Presenting for the first time outside of Europe, Franck Sorbier is a living legend and one of the 10 permanent members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. After working with Chantal Thomass and Thierry Mugler, Sorbier presented his first collection in 1987. In 1996, he became a member of the French Federation of Couture and Ready-to-Wear, supported by Jean-Paul Gaultier and Sonia Rykiel. In 1999, Sorbier presented his first couture collection. A decade later, the Museum of Textiles in Lyon, France, honored him with a 20-year retrospective exhibition. Sorbier’s shows are always full of dramatic special effects; for San Francisco, he brought 20 looks from his current collection, along with special pieces from his Museum Collection.
Officially the wild child of haute couture, on aura tout vu (which roughly translates as “now that takes the cake!”) is a collaboration between two Bulgarians who are true Parisian fashionistas, Livia Stoianova and Yassen Samouilov. With a signature sparkle and a firm dedication to shock and awe, the creative duo likes to flirt with their inspirations and remix them with a dollop of flamboyance.
Between the two runway shows, Replete Skincare showcased the incredible voice of up-and-coming pop singer FRENCH. Named after his country of birth, this artist is the darling of the Parisian couture houses; the San Francisco engagement marked his American debut. His music was followed by a presentation of Konstantina Tzovolu’s Fall/Winter season collection of delectable shoes and booties, entitled “The Ballad of Heels.”
Replete Skincare is donating 10 percent of all ticket sales for the 2014 Haute Couture Fashion event to Reason to Party, an all-volunteer San Francisco 501(c)(3) nonprofit that raises funds in fun ways for local charities. Funds from the October 25 event are earmarked for Samasource, which helps connect poor women and youth to training and employment in the digital economy.
For a look at aura tout vu’s Fall/Winter 2014–2015 Paris Couture Fashion Week, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3tUI8txIgc
On September 10, Jimmy Choo was abuzz with socialites buying shoes. This sole-filled soiree was a pre-gala launch party to help promote and raise funds for Rooms That Rock 4 Chemo (RTR4C). Founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco, RTR4C is a nonprofit organization devoted to transforming chemotherapy rooms into a renewal of health, hope and life.
The event attracted nearly 200 guests—which was way too many beautiful people in such a small space; at one point, the Jimmy Choos were flying off the shelves faster than they could pour the champagne. Guests mingled, nibbled, sipped and opened up their wallets to support a great cause. In addition to hosting the launch party, Jimmy Choo will also donate a percentage of the evening’s proceeds to support RTR4C’s mission. By the looks of the crowd, a lot of money was raised!
RTR4C will host its Inaugural Gala on Saturday, November 1, at the Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street in San Francisco. The gala will bring together Bay Area community leaders, business executives and leading corporations, along with family and friends, for a very special evening celebrating life through words, color and rooms that rock. The gala will be dedicated to celebrating the strength of the human spirit and making a meaningful difference for those fighting cancer every day.
Tickets start at $300 and are available for purchase at bit.ly/roomsthatrock.
Photo by Drew Altizer Photography
From homeless shelters to the Ronald McDonald House, the Wender Weis Foundation has been touching the lives of at-risk children for the past 20 years. So, to celebrate their great achievements, the foundation, their board and generous sponsors gathered with founder Amy Wender-Hoch at the opulent penthouse in the Fairmont Hotel to toast two decades of success.
While sipping wine and savoring hors d’oeuvres, patrons and esteemed guests (including Patricia Ferrin-Loucks and Terri Tiffany) chatted about upcoming events for the foundation, including the fifth annual Holiday Heroes event on December 8.
Wender-Hoch founded the Wender Weis Foundation for Children to encourage and inspire underserved and low-income children throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. WWFC raises funds for (and awareness about) charitable organizations that provide assistance to children in need, helping young people develop their confidence and self-esteem.
More information is available at www.wenderweis.org.
Photos by Drew Altizer Photography
Privileged guests, including Margrit Biever Mondavi, Gerret and Tatiana Copeland, Athena Timothy Blackburn, and many others sat under the stars at Meadowood and listened to the music of jazz legend Arturo Sandoval at Napa Valley’s annual Festival del Sole Gala July 13.
After a scrumptious meal carefully paired with wines from Boisset Family Estates and Gallo Signature Series, guests bid on amazing auction items including a night at the Oscars; a romantic Tuscany getaway for seven nights; three days at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach; and other once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
The event raised a record-breaking $1.38 million. The funds go to support arts education and outreach programs in Napa. Donations included $35,000 to Napa Valley middle and high school programs, a $34,000 grant to support Salvador Elementary School’s Artful Learning program, and grants to the Napa Valley Youth Symphony.
Photo by Drew Altizer
Although it was an intimate event, it was no small affair when Aubrey Brewster hosted a “thank you” party in July called “How Sweet It Is!” for those who supported him through his dramatic liver transplant. One of San Francisco’s fashion fixtures, Aubrey received his life-saving operation at the world-renowned Ochsner’s Multi-Organ Transplant Institute outside of New Orleans, after being given only weeks to live. Honorable Willie Major Brown, Univision’s Fabiola Kramsky, and her husband, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, were some of the esteemed guests that night.
Suitably, the sweet soiree was held at 1300, the famed Southern restaurant on chic Fillmore Street. Owner Monetta White made sure that every details was divine. From the champagne welcome to impeccable passed hors d’oeuvres and a carving station, guests were opulently pampered. Aubrey’s vivacious presence had been missed at many of the regular venues frequented by the elite, so this party marked his epic return to society.
Aubrey is a prolific promoter and supporter of philanthropic organizations. “It is so easy to become a donor!” he says. “And there are two organizations I really support. The first is spreading donor awareness—giving people the facts and getting people to become organ donors. That is Donate Life California (donatelifecalifornia.org). The second is financial assistance to transplant patients that need support post-transplant with the pricey meds, etc. That organization is the American Transplant Foundation (americantransplantfoundation.org).”
Photos by Drew Altizer