“I’ve been working on projects with UNESCO for almost seven years, spending time with children soldiers and gang members, as well as seeing it in my own experiences growing up in Los Angeles,” said actor and producer Forest Whitaker at a gala for his charity, the PeaceEarth Foundation, Saturday night in London. “I hope that we can raise sufficient funds to shape a better tomorrow for many youth, children and communities wounded by war and violence.”
Fellow celebrities, who came out in force to Whitehall’s lofty Rubens-designed Banqueting House, included Jude Law, Natalia Vodianova (in Givenchy), James McAvoy, and Yasmin Le Bon. Also in attendance was Karolina Kurkova, sparkling in a Nicholas Oakwell creation. Her new reality TV show, The Face, will premiere in 2013 with Naomi Campbell and Coco Rocha as fellow mentors for aspiring models. “It sounds superficial," she told us, "but having someone to give you that confidence makes a huge difference. We all have different approaches. Each one of us is different in our own way. I'm a mom and Coco is young and Naomi is...Naomi.” You get the point.
Although guests, who paid upwards of £1000 per plate, were promised a live performance from committee member Mary J. Blige, the 41-year-old singer broke her vow of no more drama, refusing to board the private jet sent to collect her in New York not once, but twice. Her first reason? The weather, understandably. The second? The fee, apparently. But maybe it was just a family affair. Either way, it worked out fine with The Noisettes stepping in at the last minute.
The co-sponsor for the evening, Star Diamond, showcased their ethical Botswana jewels in cabinets around the venue. Unfortunately, the other sponsor, Dom Pérignon, proved too tempting for former Bond girl Gemma Arteton (in Marios Schwab), causing her to almost topple a set of emerald jewels on her way out.
After auctioning lots—which included a 2007 Alexander McQueen gown donated by committee member Sarah Burton, as well as a voicemail from Robin Williams—Lord Archer asked guests to stand up to donate £200. While the press stayed firmly in their seats, billionaires across the hall were quick to display their generosity. Some of the celebrity guests, however, were more hesitant—neither up nor down, but looking like they needed the loo, as one European socialite noted. Nonetheless, over half a million dollars was raised for the PeaceEarth Foundation. We salute you, Forest.