LOS ANGELES Other than the biggest award show after-parties, no event in Los Angeles draws more A-listers than the Carousel of Hope Ball. The benefit, which raised $4 million for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation this year, is distinguished in another way as well: No other event bears the mark of one person as much as this one does of founder and chairman Barbara Davis.
Davis’ late billionaire husband, Marvin, was a former owner of Fox Studios, and together the couple wielded considerable social clout until his death in 2004. Barbara Davis is still a power to be reckoned with, as evidenced by the strong turnout for her second ball without Marvin. She lured music industry icons Clive Davis and Quincy Jones as her honorees, as well as eight major sponsors, including Mercedes-Benz. Emcee Jay Leno, music director David Foster, and show producer George Schlatter are regulars. Halle Berry, CBS chairman Les Moonves, Whitney Houston, Annette Bening, and Sidney Poitier were just a few of the bold-faced friends who attended this year.
Barbara Davis’ social style may be high-powered, but she’s still a soft-spoken girly girl enamored of pink. She always wears a frothy pink gown to the ball and always wants plenty of draped pink fabric to surround her 1,100 guests at the Beverly Hilton. With an arsenal of vintage carousel horses as well as carousel-shaped centerpieces that are stored by the foundation and brought out for every ball, event designer Mindy Weiss has help in keeping down the overhead charged to the charity. Weiss draped the extensive silent auction area with pink and white fabric, which was uplit in fuschia. Baskets of pink roses from Treefrogs were draped over the saddles of the 20 carousel horses dotting the auction area and international ballroom, where guests dined. Chrissy Lerner, executive director of the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, oversaw the event.
“She’s crazy about pink,” says Irene Boujo, the lead coordinator on the event for Mindy Weiss Party Consultants, which designed its fourth Carousel Ball this year. “Mindy has a good sense of Barbara’s taste. She likes a pretty auction.”
Weiss added small new touches such as neon lights in the silent auction area to freshen this year’s event, always a challenge given the limited parameters. But the Carousel Ball is different from many galas that are always on the lookout for something new. “There’s a comfort level with it being not that different every year,” Boujo said. “Anything they liked is repeated.”
Guests spent a leisurely two hours sipping cocktails donated by Grey Goose vodka and surveying the silent auction area. (This year, sponsor Leviev jewelers furnished a lounge with sumptuous leather-covered seating amid the warren of auction rooms.) After a dinner of chateaubriand, baked Alaska, and potables donated by Mirassou Winery and Fji water, the black-tie crowd feasted on performances by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, American Idol crooners Katherine McPhee and Jennifer Hudson, Usher, and Barry Manilow. Revelers left toting another fine Carousel Ball tradition: heavy gift bags stuffed with MAC makeup, a Guess watch and sunglasses, a Mermaidia Barbie, a Christopher Radko ornament, Kiehl’s sunscreen, a Leviev scented candle, and other treats.
Photos: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
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