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Rio Grandees

New York's Power Brazilians Gather for the Tenth Annual Brazil Foundation Gala

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Izabel Goulart and Jessica Hart   
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"It's difficult to find a place in Brazil that isn't beautiful," said Valentino creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri at the tenth annual Brazil Foundation Gala at the American Museum of Natural History last night. She would know; she and her co-designer, Pier Paolo Piccioli, have been spending time in the country in anticipation of opening a Valentino store there. An added bonus: "The women are very, very beautiful," her partner said.

No one could argue with that. Gorgeous Brazilian girls in lacy and sparkling cutout gowns like Izabel Goulart and Jeisa Chiminazzo proved that point. But there were plenty of honorary Brazilians, too, like Uma Thurman, Stella Schnabel, and Olympia Scarry, who joined the ranks of official Brazilians like Francisco Costa, Lorenzo Martone, and Carlos de Souza. "We always joke that everyone that comes to this has a Brazilian soul," Martone said. "The whole evening is a very Brazilian experience. Let me put it this way: Tonight is a marathon. We have cocktails in the dinosaur room, dinner in the whale room, and then there's a little after-party. Last year I had a samba moment with Natalia Vodianova on the dance floor."

As the crowd found its seats under the famous 94-foot-long blue whale model hanging from the ceiling ("it feels like we are eating in Jurassic Park," one guest told his spouse as he sat down next to a walrus diorama), Luigi Tadini and his co-host for the evening, Luciana Curtis, got the program, which ended with a set by Brazilian chanteuse Bebel Gilberto, started. After dinner, where hardly an English word was spoken, the group bid on live-auction items like a custom Jack Vartanian ring and a private week-long stay in Rio. The proceeds—all $1.3 million of them—benefit the foundation.

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