News & Politics

A Night Out: The Purple Ball

Red and blue and plenty of celebrities came together for the Purple Ball Tuesday night at the Fairmont Hotel.

Van Jones and Ashley Judd at the Purple Ball.

At last night’s Inaugural Purple Ball, we snapped photos of celebrities and gussied-up attendees during an hour-long cocktail reception. Held in the ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel, the event focused on diversity and bipartisanship (think blue and red make purple), and a portion of its proceeds went to the United Negro College Fund. Post cocktail hour, guests were treated to a seated dinner, speeches by Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, Senator Leticia Van de Putte, host Asal Masomi, and Deidre Hall. Boy band Il Divo performed before the Radio King Orchestra provided music for guests to dance the night away. Attendees spent between $300 and $5,000 to participate.

Here’s some highlights from the cocktail reception:

Most dramatic gown: Host Asal Masomi and her personal assistant. They both wore princess-style dresses with a fitted, sequined corset on top and layers upon layers of tuile poofing out on the bottom.

Best male formal attire: Partygoer Alexander Duncan sported the top of a tuxedo with a Scottish kilt and his ancestor’s tartan on bottom. He says he wears it to every black-tie event he attends.

See more photos of inaugural ballsBest female attire that wasn’t a gown: Actress and wife of Ed Harris, Amy Madigan. Her balck Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo was sharp and unusual. “I’m just not a gown gal,” she said on the purple carpet.

Most unexpected celebrity: Dionne Warwick. Her American Music Ball was canceled at the last minute when she sold only a couple hundred tickets to her performance that she had hoped would draw up to 6,000 guests.

Most unexpected absence of an expected celebrity: Host-committee member Kate Walsh, known for her roles on Gray’s Anatomy and Private Practice, never showed. Early last week, the hosts announced that John Cusack would make an appearance, but he decided that the Green Ball was more his style.

Most unknown TV star to walk the purple carpet: Danielle Bisutti, who will play Amanda Cantwell on Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP. But her gown—a deep green, satin number with a big black bow, certainly drew her some attention.

Best purple accessory: Two women in the crowd accented their dresses with wild, feathery purple boas. No one else dressed for the theme, however.

Best drink: Moet and Chandon Champagne. Actually, the French bubbly was the only alcohol served at the event. As sponsors, Moet and Chandon set up three bars in the cocktail reception and the seated dinner was paired with flutes of Champagne.

Best passed appetizer: Lobster soup. Served in a tall shot glass, the hot soup was a warming welcome when guests first arrived. On the whole, however, the appetizers were a tad disappointing. In addition to the soup, we tried Peking-duck rolls with chives and a “BLT”—a small disk of bread topped with prosciutto, diced tomatoes, and micro greens.

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