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FENDI Freestyle party to offer big gifts, celebrities

Aspen Times Staff Report

For some 10 years, the benefit event FENDI Freestyle has been not only a major fund-raiser for the Aspen Art Museum, but a prime social event in Aspen’s holiday season calendar.

It isn’t difficult to see why: FENDI Freestyle has all the elements – top-shelf food and drink, big-ticket gifts to buy, celebrities and oddities – that lure many of Aspen’s Christmas-time visitors.

“It’s a very high-end event,” said Susan Claire Burston who, in her two-plus years as the Aspen Art Museum’s director of development, has overseen the organization of three FENDI Freestyle events. “There’s Bollinger champagne; Tsar Nicoulai caviar, which is an award-winning Russian caviar; smoked salmon.”

One of the things that has distinguished the Freestyle party has been the time of the event. Instead of a nighttime bash, Freestyle is an aprs-ski gig that starts when the ski slopes shut down. This year’s Freestyle is set for Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the St. Regis Aspen hotel.

Because of the party’s hour, FENDI Freestyle truly does become a freestyle event. “It’s anything goes,” said Burston. “People can and do come right off the slopes in their ski gear. Or they can come totally dressed for dinner. Or they wear something outlandish, to get noticed. Last year we had a woman who wore just a piece of fur, tied around her neck and covering her body. That got noticed.”

Another attraction, said Burston, is the celebrity watching. Last year’s event drew Kevin Costner and the reigning Miss Universe; the year before, Michael Douglas was in attendance. Burston can’t promise who might show up for this year’s Freestyle, but the invitations have been sent out to Aspen’s A-list. One most interesting group that has become Freestyle regulars is the Russian kickboxing team, plus girlfriends.

Finally there are the silent and live auctions that stamp Freestyle with must-attend status in some circles. The silent auction features some 200 items, including a heli-skiing trip in Telluride; a private plane to Denver followed by a private tour of the Denver Art Museum; Gucci luggage; a local golf package; a stone crab dinner delivered to your door; and trips all over the world.

The live auction, conducted by guest auctioneer Sarah Lidsey of Christie’s New York, Inc., features trips to Bali; Chateau Drouilles, France; and New Zealand; a wool Brioni tuxedo; and a walk-on role on the soap opera “Bold and the Beautiful.”

For tickets or further information, call 925-8050.


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