Cover Sherman Tang, Michelle Ong, Simon Ho and Edward Cheng

Hong Kong's most fabulous put on their dazzling gowns and dinner jackets to celebrate First Foundation Initiative's 10th year

Black tie galas ... remember them? As social distancing guidelines had been relaxed in Hong Kong last month, the First Initiative Foundation seized the opportunity to stage an exclusive dinner at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Hong Kong’s most fabulous dusted off their gowns and dinner jackets and came out in force to celebrate the charity’s tenth year.

In partnership with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the foundation flew in rare paintings from the world-renowned Uffizi Galleries in Florence for a four-month-long exhibition on show until February 21. The Tsim Sha Tsui exhibition, Botticelli and His Times—Masterworks from the Uffizi, presents 42 breathtaking works from the gallery’s incredible collection, among them ten works by Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, making this the greatest number of Botticellis to ever be exhibited in Hong Kong.

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In characteristically grand style, the foundation’s chairwoman Michelle Ong held an invite-only dinner, dubbed Everlasting Wonder, on November 5. Throughout the evening, guests were treated to a multidimensional feast combining visual, historical and culinary elements of Italy.

Attendees experienced a private viewing of the exhibition and sat for a three-course meal by three-Michelin-starred chef Umberto Bombana of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana (served by waiters dressed as Catholic cardinals, no less), with wine pairing by Sarah Heller, the world’s youngest female master of wine and Tatler’s wine columnist. To top off the evening, there were performances by singers Miriam Yeung, Gin Lee and Allison Lau.

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With the support of the Chinese-Italian Cultural Society and Italy’s consulate general in Hong Kong, the event also marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties being established between Italy and China, and was the first exhibition staged together by the Uffizi Galleries and Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

For the next two months, visitors to the museum can expect extraordinary experiences alongside the usual self-guided tours, with a series of community programmes designed to capture the imagination of both adults and children, including expert-led interactive art labs, mixology classes and custom Instagram filters to deploy on selfies taken at the venue.

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Ong’s bash also included a silent auction, where the top lot of the night was a collection of 111 bottles donated by Henry Tang, which fetched HK$350,000.

Guests who walked the red carpet included Barney Cheng, Pansy Ho, Edwin Pun, FIF’s managing director and Ong’s daughter Amanda Cheung, and Denise Lo, the latter in great spirits having arrived at the museum fresh from the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2021 show in Repulse Bay.

For the last decade, FIF has been dedicated to social and charitable initiatives to benefit the arts and education, and to promote Hong Kong’s culture on the world stage. This exhibition launch proved that this mission is being upheld even in a year like 2020. Saluti!

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