The Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series party was a bit different this year.
The party is hosted each year to announce the winner of Bombay Sapphire’s annual arts competition to uncover emerging artists across North America.
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For the first time in a years there was no Russell Simmons. The mogul has been laying low after his name was added to the list of Famous Men Behaving Badly. The Artisan Series was a long time collaboration between his Rush Philanthropic Foundation and the gin brand, which ended coincidentally this year, before the allegations of sexual misconduct were lobbed at the music and fashion mogul. (You can still hear the sighs of relief of publicists.) Simmons was accused by screenwriter and director Jenny Lumet of sexually violating her back in 1991. Model Keri Claussen Khalighi also accused him of sexual misconduct.
As a result of the allegations, Simmons stepped down from his empire, stating, “I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded. The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward.”
Another big change for the series? The venue. Normally located in a tent on the sands of South Beach, this year’s event got a major upgrade, relocating to Casa Casuarina, AKA the former Versace Mansion.
This year’s hostess to hand out the big prize was Issa Rae, star of HBO’s “Insecure.” The winner earned a national platform to showcase their work and in 2017 there was a record breaking number of submissions. Vancouver artist Vanessa Lam took home the top prize.
Issa Rae brought along her “Insecure” costars Broderick Hunter and Sarunas Jackson for the party, which included music by DJ Heron Preston and three specialty drinks crafted by Bombay Sapphire.
Eva Longoria popped in to say hello.
Also in attendance were Olivia Culpo, Mark Ronson, models RJ King and Beau Dunn, artists Gregory Siff and Allie & Lexi Kaplan, designer Gigi Burris, Univision entertainment reporter Tony Dandrades and influencer Olivia Lopez. Issa Rae was definitely living her best life.