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Acqua Culture

Sean Penn and Giorgio Armani toast photography with a purpose at the L.A. edition of Paris Photo

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Sean Penn and Roberta Armani   
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For Paris Photo's inaugural trip out West, Giorgio Armani and Sean Penn, in collaboration with Vanity Fair, teamed up to welcome the international art-photography fair to Paramount Pictures Studios at a private preview last night. As its official sponsor, Armani presents "The Acqua Exhibition" every year, and this year a dedicated space plays host to Acqua #3, a series of photographs by Jim Goldberg. Goldberg went to Haiti last March to shoot a series about Penn's nonprofit, the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, and its efforts to improve the country's access to clean drinking water. What did Penn, famously a boots-on-the-ground type of celebrity do-gooder, think of the series? "Photography, like painting, is up to the interpreter," he said. "I'm just hopeful that it'll provoke an interest about a place that needs a lot of focus."

After the private preview, guests such as Samuel L. Jackson, Amber Heard, and Poppy Delevingne made their way to Mr. Chow for a private dinner to celebrate Penn and the organization he established in 2010. Roberta Armani, who called Penn "an angel" (the same word he later used to describe her in his toast), felt that Penn's charitable efforts were in line with Armani's own commitment to UNICEF's Acqua for Life. "He's someone that really understands it—and believes in it," she said. "And it's especially important tonight with Acqua for Life, because we can buy drinkable water for Haiti." While Fergie and Josh Duhamel settled into cozy convo alongside Rachel Zoe, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick sat close to Penn. "There's no way to really know what's going on unless you see pictures of what's going on there," Sedgwick acknowledged. "Like all things, years go by and they fall out of our consciousness, so photos can make that more visceral and present for us."

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