PARIS — Red was the color of the moment at the Liaisons au Louvre Trois gala Tuesday night. Guests entered the courtyard of the world-famous museum from a private entrance and followed a long red carpet into the Venus de Milo gallery for cocktails. They dined in the Galerie Dare amid the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which was bathed in red light for one night only.
And afterwards, legendary singer Diana Ross performed her greatest hits in an intimate concert under the iconic pyramid designed by I.M. Pei while dressed in a glittery red gown with billowy sleeves.
By the end of the evening, though, Houston's Becca Cason Thrash, who chaired three days of gala fundraising activities, including Tuesday's La Grand Nuit dinner for 240, was seeing green. The evening took in more than $3 million for the American Friends of the Louvre, which sponsors restoration projects at the famed French museum.
"Ladies, come in my closet and we'll play," Gela Nash-Taylor told the crowd. "There are furs, jewels and lots of feathers. I'll even make you a track suit."
LA-based party planner Ben Bourgeois worked with Thrash to "paint" the Louvre red for one night, with garden roses, peonies and other red flowers in tall vases on the 20 tables that filled the room amid priceless Greek sculptures while images of red roses were projected on the ceiling.
Among the first to arrive on the red carpet were actress Milla Jovovich, in a sequined silver Yves Saint Laurent gown and black cape, and Charlotte Casiraghi, the 26-year-old daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco (and a splitting image of her mother), in a floral pink and red off-the-shoulder gown by Giambattista Valli.
Thrash, in a Jean-Paul Gaultier haute couture sequined Mondrian-patterned skirt, crocodile belt and black blouse, also welcomed U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin and wife, Susan Tolson, former U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Holmes Tuttle and wife Maria, Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke and wife Brigitte, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and wife, Ann, twins Hubert and Xavier Guerrand-Hermés of the famed luxury goods family and designers Andrew Gn, Giambattista Valli and Bruno Frisoni, along with actress Tracee Ellis Ross, the daughter of Diana Ross.
Also joining in the festivities were Duran Duran singer John Taylor and wife, fashion designer Gela Nash-Taylor, along with Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes and girlfriend, Nefer Suvio (Duran Duran played at the first Liasions au Louvre fundraiser, which Thrash chaired in 2008) and a large contingent of Houston friends and supporters.
After dinner, Thrash chaired a live auction in the pyramid that brought in more than $1 million, with help from her Houston friends. In spirited bidding, Monsour Taghdisi and Henry Richardson were the high bidders on a luxury cruise on the Nile aboard designer Christian Louboutin's custom-built boat while Gary Petersen outbid several others for a striking piece of contemporary art by RETNA (Marquis Lewis), for $100,000.
Diane Lokey Farb's bid for a stay at the English country home of John and Gela Nash-Taylor reached $65,000 when Gela jumped onstage and promised the winning bidder something money apparently can buy — and bids skyrocketed. "Ladies, come in my closet and we'll play," Gela, who co-founded Juicy Couture and now co-owns the Skaist-Taylor clothing line, told the crowd. "There are furs, jewels and lots of feathers. I'll even make you a track suit."
That opportunity was too much to resist for Elizabeth Petersen, who had the high bid of $100,000.
(The next day, Thrash, with the Taylor's blessing, sold the package for a second time to Farb for $65,000.)
Then Ross got the audience out of their seats with a 35-minute performance that featured hits from "the good old days," she said. She launched into "I'm Coming Out," followed by "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love," "Stop in the Name of Love" and "You Can't Hurry Love."
She also performed "The Boss," "Upside Down," the theme from Mahogany ("Do You Know Where You're Going") and closed with an extended version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."
At 69, the singer still maintains her sparkle, and, backstage, after the concert, where she met with Becca and husband, John Thrash, the Petersens and Bulgari's Stephane Gerschel, Ross said she was thrilled with performing at the Louvre and had done a lot of homework on the museum, reviewing videos of its history.
"This is a very special place to perform," she said
Ross said she is looking forward to performing at the Houston Children's Charity gala on Nov. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
"I spend a lot of time in Texas," she said.