June 14 (Bloomberg) -- Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, Donna Karan and Sean Penn were at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Cultural Center last night for the opening of “Discover Haiti,” an exhibition of products and artwork from the beleaguered island.
“It’s papier-mache,” said a beaming Karan of her tote bag, a brown checkerboard of woven papier-mache strips. “Everyone’s been asking me about it.” The fashion designer sported strappy sandals and hair in a tight bun.
The bag, which retails for less than $100, is featured in the exhibition along with jewelry, clothing, and housewares from her Urban Zen Haiti Artisan Project. All are produced in Haiti and displayed with indigenous art to reflect the culture and history of the country.
Since Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, Karan has traveled extensively throughout the country looking for ways to help local manufacturers and artists rebuild their lives.
The IDB’S Cultural Center was established in 1992 to foster social development as well as understanding between Latin American/Caribbean nations and other countries.
Adam Waldman, the founder, chairman and president of the Endeavor Group, said he bought some Haitian beads for his mother from the collection for about $80. He pointed them out to Bradley Horwitz, the president and chief executive of Trilogy International Partners.
Penn, who wore a lapel pin with American and Haitian flags intertwined, said that he made the trip to Washington from Haiti Wednesday morning with Lamothe, who took office last month. Lamothe said this was his first visit to the nation’s capital as prime minister.
After guests took in the exhibition, they gathered in the bank’s atrium for cocktails and baby quiche.
Haitian Ambassador Paul Altidor, who started in his post two months ago, said the exhibition presents Haiti as an “investment destination,” not a place of poverty and charity.
His wife, Meghan, who collects Haitian art, walked away with some purchases, he added.
Discover Haiti will be in Washington through June 27, and then heads to London.
Project Hope, which provides medical assistance to 35 countries, presented its first Global Health Partner Award to Eli Lilly & Co. CEO John Lechleiter on June 12.
During the next five years, Eli Lilly will invest $30 million in diabetes research and education in Mexico, Brazil, India and South Africa, Lechleiter said yesterday in a telephone interview. The company will work with Project Hope specifically in India and South Africa, he added.
The event began with a reception at the Willard Hotel, featuring coconut shrimp, followed by dinner and the awards ceremony at the Mellon Auditorium.
At the Willard, Project Hope’s president and CEO, John Howe, chatted with Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and BB&T Corp.’s chairman and CEO, Kelly King.
Also present: Quest Diagnostics Inc. CEO Steve Rusckowski; Goldman Sachs & Co. Managing Director Marshall Smith; John Fowler, a Wells Fargo Securities. vice chairman; and Dayton Ogden, global leader of Spencer Stuart Inc.’s CEO Succession advisory services.
Phebe Novakovic, the president and chief operating officer of General Dynamics Corp. who in January will ascend to the position of chairman and chief executive, said she was having a date night with her teenage daughter, Sophia Vickers.
The event raised $2 million for Project Hope
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Martin Gayford on art.
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