VIENNA- Nearly 40,000 people dressed in colourful costumes attended this year’s Life Ball, Vienna’s glitzy annual AIDS charity, Saturday, with actress Milla Jovovich and former US president Bill Clinton among those adding to the star factor.
Jovovich was on hand to represent the US AIDS research foundation amfAR at the milestone 20th edition of the event, while Clinton, a regular since 2007, also attended for his Clinton Health Access Initiative project.
“What is important … is that we are here to educate people. That’s why we’re here, to say what’s going on,” said Jovovich.
“This kind of event is what is needed to get the message through and raise money,” added Sudanese model Alek Wek. “The Life Ball can do that very well.”
Ballgowns and body paint mixed in a swirl of orange, yellow or red and glitter against the neo-gothic backdrop of Vienna’s City Hall.
Held on a red-ribbon-shaped catwalk, the traditional fashion show — organised this year by Vogue Italia magazine — retraced 20 years of Life Ball designs, with creations by such names as Roberto Cavalli, Vivienne Westwood, Heatherette and Gianfranco Ferre.
In true Viennese form, the show opened with 100 debutantes and their partners dancing to a “polonaise” by Frederic Chopin and performed by Australian pianist David Helfgott.
This year’s Life Ball was themed “Fight the Flames of Ignorance”, after previous editions took the elements of water, air and earth for inspiration.
Last year, the event made 1.9 million euros ($2.5 million) for the fight against HIV and AIDS.