Later this week, the fall season of society events takes its final bow, as it does every season, with the Winter Wonderland Ball at the Botanical Gardens. Luigi Tadini, the Brazilian-born 25-year-old unabashed male socialite, who for the last six years has been a fixture on the gala circuit, isn’t even going, let alone lending his name to the committee board.
“People need to choose their charities, and it’s a lesson that sometimes you have to learn the hard way when you move to New York, because you could be on a committee for a million things,” he said over a lunch of rigatoni and Pinot Grigio last Saturday at the Bowery Hotel. He was wearing a gray cashmere sweater, snug-fitting black pants, black ankle boots, tweed driving jacket and Persol sunglasses. (For evenings, he noted, “A man always looks his best in a perfectly tailored suit and a white shirt, there are no two ways about it.”) He recently got his left ear pierced; after lunch he was going shopping for an industrial-style stud to replace the starter earring.
It’s been a year of numerous revelations for Mr. Tadini. He decided he wanted to go into the family business—his father owns Tadini, a 70-year-old São Paolo–based haute couture jewelry company—and design his own line of necklaces, bracelets and cocktail rings. He expects to begin showing the collection to editors and buyers in February. This summer, he took a peek inside the “Pandora’s box” of reality TV and hosted a Hamptons travel show for Plum TV, called Out East With Luigi Tadini.
“You really need to choose the things that you’re passionate about,” he went on. “And I think because of Obama, he spoke directly to such a different sort of demographic, I think people are.”
Mr. Tadini has become passionate about the Riverkeeper Junior Council, which he co-founded two and a half years ago with his good friend, publishing heir–turned–model Amanda Hearst. The idea for a Junior Council came up while they enjoyed a “senior” event benefiting Riverkeeper, the environmental group that works to protect the Hudson River, hosted by Ms. Hearst’s mother at the family spread in Southampton. The “next generation of young leaders,” as Mr. Tadini likes to call his committee, hosted their first big event last March on the top floor of the Hearst Tower. It was a success: Tickets were $125; the event raised over $60,000.
“What we’re trying to do is make it a staple event during the spring season,” Mr. Tadini said. Kind of a strange time to get excited about benefit parties, no? To hear Mr. Tadini tell it, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is likely to put a hurt on the big-league fund-raising events, but the minor league of aspiring philanthropists remains strong. The beautiful young people, he says, are still eager to get gussied up and boogie down, and more than ever hungry to support causes such as the environment.
“Our circle throws parties that cost $175 to $200, so people can afford that,” he said. The Junior Council keeps their prices and overhead low by “using our connections and because our members bring in press and it’s a younger group, so it’s easier to get the press that would entice people that own spaces and things like that.”
Fashion label Tibi picked up the tab at their last event. The Junior Council hopes to develop a long-term relationship with Ralph Lauren. Next week, Mr. Tadini and Ms. Hearst are hosting a Riverkeeper evening of “cocktails and charitable holiday shopping” at the Ralph Lauren Soho outpost. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from certain items selected by the hosts will go to the fund.
It’s the $50,000-a-table events that Mr. Tadini worries about. “I think we’re going to see a change in a lot of things,” he said, predicting that even the stodgiest old galas will take on corporate sponsorship. “Like for example, I’m a big fan of the opera, and the Met is going to take a really huge hit next year.” He’s also a big one for fashion. He covered Fashion Week for Paper magazine and consults for GQ magazine. He said style-wise, he aspires to a combo between a young Alain Delon and an older Cary Grant, with a little Mick Jagger thrown in. He confessed to a massive cravat collection and a fetish for velvet blazers.
I asked him to tell me about his childhood.
“You know growing up in Brazil you experience a lot of glamour and amazing parties—Brazilians really do know how to party,” he said. “So you live life very grandly, you know, beach houses and helicopters and all the things that you read about Brazil are entirely true. But the thing is that because there’s so much disparity in Brazil, it’s also very dangerous. The reality is that you live behind really gigantic walls, and security cameras and bulletproof cars and armed drivers.” Mr. and Mrs. Tadini were fixtures on the social circuit in Brazil, their handsome son often in tow. “You couldn’t do the equivalent of going to the Lower East Side, which is one of the wonderful things about New York. You can wake up and be in a mood and, you know, go to a dive in the middle of nowhere and you’re fine. In Brazil, you certainly can’t do that. It’s a golden cage.”