I was very priviledged on Saturday night to be able to attend the 20th Life Ball in Vienna. The Life Ball is a huge event held in the Rathaus (Town Hall) in the city, and is one of the largest AIDS charity balls in the world.
Combining fashion, style, costumes and great entertainment, the Life Ball is a riot of colour and exuberace. With an impressive guest list and even more impressive surroundings, this is THE event to be at every year!
Vienna has a long tradition of balls, with the majority occuring between November and February. The Life Ball has some of the elements of a traditional Viennese ball, but with its own particular style and flair.
I made our oufits, which worked out really well and reignited my passion for sewing (more on that over on Modal Corpus!). The theme was Fight The Flames of Ignorance, with most people opting for outfits in flame colours of reds and oranges. I decided that I wanted to be a bit different and go with purple... just because!
|Outfits designed and made by m4dswine, using fabrics from Komolka. Make up by m4dswine using products from MAC and Chanel. Photography by Swedish.|
The first event of the evening is the Magenta Carpet, the walkway in for people holding Style Tickets (half price tickets that come with the condition of looking absolutely fabulous) and the celebrity guests (this year's events included Milla Jovovich, Antonio Banderas, Brigitte Neilson and Naomi Campbell as well as prominent Austrians). Outfits and costumes ranged from the more traditional dresses and tuxs to body painting, clever use of wire and lighting and some of the most amazing hair ever! Pictures of some of the best costumes can be seen here: Life Ball Costumes 2012
During that time, the ticket holders and other guests assemble in Rathausplatz to watch the opening ceremony. Outside the Rathausplatz the general public gather to watch the festivities on giant screens, and the whole thing is broadcast on national television.
The opening includes singers, bands, speeches and a fashion show. This year, the guest speakers were Antonio Banderas and Naomi Campbell, who were presenting the Crystal of Hope award to Bobbi Bear, a charity in South Africa that helps young children to speak out about rape and abuse; Bill Clinton, speaking about his charity, the William J Clinton Foundation, and Milla Jovovich speaking in her role as an ambassador for AMFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research); she also sang in the fashion show (and was surprisingly good!).
This year's fashion show was put together by Franca Sozzani, the editor in chief of Vogue Italia (you may know her from such programmes as America's Next Top Model) and featured many of the designers who have presented the fashion show over the last 20 years: Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Heatherette, Philip Treacy, Vivienne Westwood, Missoni, Diesel and many others.
Unfortunately, my camera did not perform to the task at hand, and I don't have any decent photos of the fashion show, but a slideshow can be seen here: Life Ball Fashion Show 2012
I did manage to get a reasonable picture of the final model, with wings of fire - the theme of this year's ball being "Fight The Flames of Ignorance".
Once the ball was declared open, the party really began. The Rathaus is a fabulous Neo Gothic building in Vienna, and the inside is just as amazing as the outside. Transformed for the evening, the juxtaposition of the party lighting and outrageous costumes against the grand and formal interior made for an hedonistic atmosphere reminiscent of the days of the Empire (or what I might imagine it would be like, with all the dancing and wigs!).
There were many rooms with different types of music in, so there was something to please everyone really. A heavier emphasis was placed on the electronic and techno beats found in some of the larger nightclubs, but there was also a 70s disco room, some more generic house infused pop and live music, including the wonderful Judith Hill, whose guitar based soul band was a welcome relief from the beeps and repetitive rhythms of the other rooms. And you should totally check her out, she has a fabulous voice!
The outdoor courtyard hosted a variety of bars and entertainment in the form of cabaret and burlesque, but we stayed upstairs mainly where there was also some New York cabaret/burlesque, including Yozmit, who is a little out there for my taste, but entertaining nonetheless!
After many hours of dancing and enjoying ourselves, we left for our homes at around 4.15am. One really really great thing about Vienna is the underground - at weekends it runs all night and when you live as centrally as I do, it is a hop skip and a jump home - I was in the flat by 4.30!
My friend and I decided that we both really really want to go again next year, with more time to prepare our outfits, especially as we now have a much better idea of what to wear!
All photography by m4dswine unless otherwise stated.