On June 18th 2010, glamour and high fashion came to Oxford for the Oxford Red Dress Couture Ball - an event designed to raise funds and awareness for both H.E.L.P. and Teach a Man To Fish. RED, the international colour of hope for those affected by HIV/AIDS was the unifying link carried throughout the evening’s festivities. The evening began (for those who splashed out on the night's most expensive tickets) with a gourmet dinner at the lovely Cherwell Boathouse. Following the dinner, there was a fashion show at the Town Hall which included beautiful red gowns worn by exquisite professional models from London. Dresses included in the show were designed by Vera Wang, Issa, Bill Blass, Herve Leger, John Galliano, Max Azria, Nicold Fahri, Armani, Christiane King, Noir, Matthew Williamson, Grancesca Miranda, Brian Reyes, Prabal Gurang, Chagoury Couture, House of Dereon, Adolfo Sanchez, Escada, Marchesa, Yotam Soloman, Paul Smith, Christian Siriano, and Temperley London. All clutches used in the show were provided by Alexander McQueen and Anya Hindmarch.
Immediately following the show was an auction for charity, which was let by Hugh Edmeades, Christie's International Director of Auctioneering. Items included the Herve Leger Dress, a two week internship at Escada in London, original signed lyrics from Disney's "Just Around the Riverbend" from Pocohontas, and much more. For a full list of auctioned items and the money raised from them, see below.
Following the fashion show and action was an after-party at the Divinity Schools at the Bodleian Library. There was a DJ, canapes, drinks, and a silent auction containing further items, including a Christian Lacroix designed 'Haute Couture Bottle' designed for Evian in celebration of his 20th year in fashion. These limited production bottles are all hand blown by Swiss artisans, and were valued at $46,000, as noted in the Guinness Book of World Records.
There was also an after-party at Kukui, but I didn't get to that one.
I was very impressed by the organisation of the event. It moved smoothly and the event quality felt like a bit of New York, Paris or London came to Oxford for the night. Oxford Fashion Week can take a few pointers from the Red Couture Ball. The Ball was elegant and professional. I especially loved the uses of the Oxford Town Hall and the Divinity Schools as these are two of the more beautiful rooms in the city. My only suggestions for improvements are that firstly, they should have provided champagne before the fashion show, which likely would have encouraged higher bidding during the auction (especially the first item, which in my opinion should have sold for much more), and secondly, the canapes served at the after party were inedible. Possibly the worst sushi I have ever tasted.
The Oxford Red Dress Couture Ball is a fantastic fundraiser, and I hope it becomes an annual event, bringing class, culture and couture to Oxford.
Live Auction Fundraising Results
Herve Leger Red Dress: £1200
Two VIP Centre Court Tickets for The Championships of Wimbeldon: £700
Two Week Internship at Escada London: £2500
Victoria Beckham Autographed Photo and Corresponding Sketch of Red Carpet Dress Worn: £200
Mini Pupilage at One Essex Court with Neil Kitchener QC, the chambers of Lord Grabiner QC: £600
Collection of 8 Backstage Passes for Who Concerts signed by Pete Townsend: £1000
Football Shirt Signed by Entire 2002 World Cup Champions Brazil: £400
Christiane King Red Dress: £1600
Original Signed Draft of Lyrics of Disney's 'Just Around the Riverbend': £200
Original Signed Draft of Lyrics to 'From Russia with Love': £450
Tina Knowles Red Dress: £1200
(please click on a thumnail to navigate through all photos)
For more information about the Oxford Red Dress Couture Ball visit the official website.