Life Ball — that AIDS-fighting, life-affirming, awe-inspiring party of parties in Vienna, whose optimism and feel-good attitude knows no bounds — has bowed for 2014. Once again, various fashion personalities took part, this year hand-picked by Franca Sozzani, Italian Vogue editor and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.
“It’s such an honor to be once again partner of this praiseworthy initiative, representing Italy, where, next June, we will hold the 21st edition of Convivio, thus supporting HIV/AIDS research,” said Sozzani. “It is so important that we all share our efforts for a disease that unfortunately still affects millions of people around the world.”
Among other duties, Sozzani gathered tuxedo looks from seven men’s houses — Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, Viktor & Rolf, Lanvin, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Etro, Dsquared2 — for Life Ball’s first men’s fashion show, presented by L’Uomo Vogue and featuring the chiseled, top-model physiques of Rob Evans, Shaun Ross and Austrian-born Werner Schreyer, among other Adonises.
For the Red Ribbon Celebration Concert portion, Vivienne Westwood was tapped to create the stage design, based on the motto of Life Ball 2014: the Garden of Earthly Delights, as painted by Hieronymus Bosch in his 15th-century triptych of the same name. Naturally, Westwood also used the opportunity to raise awareness of her environmental causes. “For the ‘Lost Paradise’ concert,” she said, “we designed a backdrop to suggest the cosmos, home of our planet and the Garden of Earthly Delights…to help understand the very urgent need to fight climate change.”
Life Ball also brought out the requisite gaggle of dubious and somewhat confused celebrities-for-hire, who this year included Lindsay Lohan and Courtney Love. Curiously, Love walked in Westwood’s fashion show alongside Andreas Kronthaler, the designer’s creative director and Austrian husband, upon whom Sacha Baron Cohen is said to have been based his Bruno character.
Despite a heart-stopping, still-sexy performance by Ricky Martin, the two showstoppers of Life Ball were the dual bookends: an introduction by Bill Clinton, an avowed champion of anti-HIV causes, and the grand finale showcasing Conchita Wurst, winner of the European Song Contest. Conchita — whose bearded, gender-fuck appearance on television twisted untold Putin loyalists’ panties into a knot, reprised Rise Like a Phoenix, the song that secured Ukraine’s votes and, with them, the contest.