Inside the Save Venice La Primavera Gala With Ava Dash

Spend the night at the Save Venice gala with Andrew Warren and Ava Dash.

Andrew Warren and Ava Dash at the Save Venice Ball. Marcy Swingle

It’s Friday night, and a highlight of the gala season is on the calendar: Save Venice’s Un Ballo in Maschera, an event I always look forward to. The glitzy soirée, which focuses on raising money dedicated to the artistic preservation of Venice, Italy, is, fittingly, held at the Plaza Hotel. While the non-profit organization hosts several galas, the New York iteration is always special; this year, it fell on Friday, April 12. 

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Tonight’s date is Ava Dash, one of my best friends and, luckily, one of those girls who is surprisingly easygoing, because we both ended up last-minute winging our looks for the evening—shockingly enough, they worked out quite well, if I do say so myself. When I say I was texting my salesperson at Saks at 5 p.m. looking for the perfect McQueen blazer, I’m not exaggerating. Luckily, Ava and I had a good starting place, as Julian Polak of Maison Spoiled texted Ava and me photos of sparkling diamond options to tie our outfits together, and base the looks around—I ended up basing my look around a white gold-and-yellow diamond brooch Julian picked for me.

For Ava, I pulled a vintage, circa-1980s couture Calvin Klein marigold gown from my late grandmother’s collection, and tied the look together with tan Rachel Roy shoes and a bejeweled Judith Leiber monkey bag. Sometimes I do miss being in fashion, because I always love when my girlfriends let me style them. A few photos later, and we hopped in an Uber and were off to the Plaza. 

Ava Dash. Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com

We arrived just in time for the last moments of cocktail hour, and my inner Kris Jenner came out, making sure Ava, the 24-year-old daughter of Damon Dash and Rachel Roy, was photographed by everyone.

Now, onto the actual event, which was sponsored by Oscar de la Renta and the Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel. The sold-out event, themed La Primavera and attended by over 400 guests, raised more than $1.2 million for the preservation of historic art and architecture in Venezia. 

As someone who has attended charity galas since I was 14 years old, I’m confident that I know a thing or two about how to do them right. The key to this event was the backdrop, which meant having it decorated and transformed into a Venetian garden by Save Venice co-chair and event engineer Bronson van Wyck and his team, Van Wyck & Van Wyck. With Bronson on decor, there isn’t much left to worry about, especially with Nathalie Kaplan’s consultancy agency, NGK Global, handling logistics. She’s the queen of these society charity galas, which are her speciality. And with corporate supporters like Chanel and Gucci, the night was bound to be a success.

Ivy Getty, Emily Ratajkowski and Nicky Hilton. Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com

Aside from Ava, of course, some of the other best-dressed attendees included Tina Leung (in an Oscar de la Renta Barbie-esque sheer crystal top and pink silk bow dress), Di Mondo (in a blue hydrangeas-covered creation with butterflies and a matching mask), Ivy Getty (in a sheer, embellished Oscar de la Renta gown and Bulgari jewels) and Natalie Jackson (in a classic black Vivienne Westwood gown and over-the-top butterfly mask). And let’s not forget about van Wyck’s peacock cape. Other fashionable attendees included Emily Ratajkowski, Jenna Lyons, Nicky Hilton Rothschild, Anna van Patten, Julian Schnabel, Huma Abedin, LaQuan Smith and Ezra J William, to name just a few. 

After the cocktail hour came to an end, Ava and I headed to our seats for the dinner. Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, the co-creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, presided over the Ceremony for Outstanding Masks; Jordan Roth, Andy Yu and Lisa Sher-Chambers won the three prizes.

Paolo Lorenzoni, Bronson van Wyck and Lisa Sher-Chambers. Deonté Lee/BFA.com

It was an incredibly glamorous evening, and in the midst of the festivities, I caught up with Ava on what she’s up to right now. 

Observer: What’s the latest with you?

Ava Dash: I just moved back to New York. After graduating college at LMU in L.A., I’m excited to be back in the city and focusing on modeling as well as television projects. 

What’s next for you, career-wise? 

I recently worked with PETA, launching a campaign advocating for the welfare and well-being of animals. This has always been a priority to me, and working with their team has taught me so much. I am also very grateful to have just signed with a new modeling agency in New York City.

Why the switch from L.A. to New York? 

I was born in New York and I moved to L.A. with my family when I was 14 years old; I did high school as well as college there, and was ready for a change. I wanted to elevate my career and experience my 20s in the city. The experiences that I can have in New York City, I just wasn’t having in L.A.. The New York lifestyle is so spontaneous; I was walking around Soho with friends and kept running into people we knew, adding to our group, and a magician stopped us and did an impromptu show. This type of thing never happens in L.A., where you’re just driving from place to place. 

What’s your favorite part of New York? 

Being able to walk around and meet new people. The feeling of endless possibilities drew me back to the city where I was born. Literally whatever you’re into, you can find the best of it in this city. 

We’re at Save Venice—what other charitable causes are important to you?

The well-being of children is the most important. My mom and I co-authored a young adult novel [96 Words for Love, published in 2019] and gave the proceeds to girls rescued from sex trafficking in India. I am also very passionate about the well-being of animals, and have traveled to Thailand to work at a sanctuary for rescued elephants. 

Ava Dash, Andrew Warren, Julia Moshy, Sarah Shatz and Natalie Jackson. Deonté Lee/BFA.com

What has been your favorite part of the night thus far? 

I love people-watching and seeing how people come together for a theme. There is so much devastation that happens in Venice every year, so I am proud to be a part of a community that cares about this cause. 

The event was beautiful! The food was delicious, the drinks were flowing and I love that the dance floor was packed throughout the night. It seems like everyone enjoyed themselves in helping to raise money for the historical and fabulous city of Venice.

Rate the decor one to 10?

It’s quintessential old school New York—9/10.

Who’s best dressed that you’ve seen tonight 

Me!

I must ask—boyfriend or single lady?

Single lady! Trying to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw with my recent move.

Well, on that note—anyone you’d immediately say yes to going on a date with?  

Chris Hemsworth, Nicolo Zaniolo and one of my exes—not saying which one…

Inside the Save Venice La Primavera Gala With Ava Dash