HONG KONG CANCER FUND, KITEC; MARCH 7
WHEN IT WAS announced that the theme of this year's Hong Kong Cancer Fund Ball was Once Upon A Time, the city's most stylish ladies and gents marvelled at the myriad of costume opportunities. Was it possible to track down a Cinderella dress in time? Which Prince Charming had the smartest tux? Or was it best to come as one of the many characters from the recent blockbuster Into The Woods? Needless to say, the invitees more than rose to the challenge and after weeks of sourcing fabrics and chasing tailors, a plethora of fairy-tale-worthy princes and princesses arrived at the annual charity gala, with one dedicated couple turning up in a Rolls-Royce with the number plate “Pumpkin”.
This year the event was held at KITEC, which had been completely transformed into a wooded wonderland by Silvio Bergé, complete with dancing nymphs decked out in body paint and outfits that appeared to be made completely of greenery. With cocktails and champagne in hand, guests were escorted through to the circular ballroom and found their places at tables that were crowned with candelabras wrapped in vines. Projections of butterflies and various woodland scenes also added to the forest ambience.
With everyone seated, a dashing opera singer took to the stage and serenaded Hong Kong Cancer Fund founder and chief executive Sally Lo before she gave her welcome speech. Lo firstly thanked the roster of sponsors and supporters, including Louis Vuitton, property developer Grosvenor and the Rockowitz family, before she shared some personal stories about her husband Robert's own diagnosis with cancer last year, which mercifully he has beaten fully.
After her touching words, the dance floor was flooded with singers and dancers who entertained guests during dinner with their exuberant moves and extravagant outfits. Even the meal was carefully matched to the theme, with a vivid green frog that had been delicately moulded from wasabi proving a literally breathtaking surprise for a few people during the starter.
Between courses, emcees got down to the serious act of fundraising, with highlights including a traditional raffle and a pledging game in which guests used a personalised smart card to donate an amount of their choice, which then added to a running total that was projected on to the walls of the ballroom. Within a matter of minutes more than HK$1.7 million had been raised, including a $500,000 donation that was subsequently matched by Grosvenor. Following that there was an auction at which guests bid for lots, including a pencil drawing by Simon Birch – himself a cancer survivor – and a limited-edition watch by Louis Vuitton, among others.
Once the auctioneer had put his gavel away for another year, a DJ took to the decks and kept the crowd dancing until the early hours of the morning. Fortunately, those fairy-tale ball gowns didn't get in the way of a spin around the dance floor.