Venetian Savoir Faire and Sumptuous Details: Join Natasha Fraser at an unforgettable dinner hosted by Yana Peel and the CHANEL Culture Fund, in the splendid surroundings of Palazzo Malipiero during the 60th Venice Biennale.



An Unforgettable Night: Yana Peel and the Chanel Culture Fund host an elegant dinner at Palazzo Malipiero during the 60th Venice Biennale © Filippo Pincolini 


The Chanel Culture Fund has gleaned a reputation for its memorable events. Their dinner at the Palazzo Malipiero - given right before the 60th Venice Art Biennale - highlighted Venetian savoir faire and sumptuousness. Hosted by Yana Peel, global head of Arts and Culture at Chanel, it was to honour artist Julien Creuzet, who the Fund is supporting at this Biennale’s French pavilion, and celebrate the 10 winners of the Chanel Next prize: recognizing up-and-comers in international arts and culture.

“What a joy it is to be in this incredible setting among so many people I admire,” was how Yana Peel greeted guests, including art world heavyweights Nicholas Cullinan, Maja Hoffmann, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Sadie Coles, Jay Jopling, Peter Marino, and of course the collector and philanthropist, Nicolas Berggruen, Palazzo Malipiero’s new owner.


Yana Peel addresses guests before dinner at Palazzo Malipiero © Virgile Guinard 


“Art IS the greatest form of hope and offers the greatest potential for shared meaning,” she continued before describing Creuzet as, “a TITAN!”, as well as, “poet, scholar, educator and artist of the greatest talent”.

Energetic and gregarious, Yana Peel knows how to welcome on a global scale. Naturally, the illustrious crowd were led up a candlelit staircase to the Palazzo’s piano nobile – the first and grandest floor of the magnificent venue. But Peel also understands the importance of surprise when entertaining. Instead of a series of dining tables, Peel and her team commissioned local artisans to create a Rococo wave-shaped table, drawing attention to the rococo walls and ceiling of the 11th-century palazzo.

The innovative design “echoed Julien Creuzet’s reinvention of the France Pavilion," Peel says, "where he constructed an aquatic world of poetry, place and mysticism.” It marks the most significant moment for the house of Chanel at the Biennale since Zaha Hadid designed the 2008 mobile art pavilion.

Inspiration for the black and white tablecloths came to Peel on a plane to Asia as she watched Coco Chanel et Igor Stravinsky (2009), the film that captures Gabrielle Chanel’s belief in the Russian composer and his ground-breaking ballet, The Rite of Spring.

“The table in the film is black with white lace,” she says. “So the table at our Venice event was lined with black linen and overlaid with 100% Italian lace, sourced locally.” Each linen napkin was embroidered with every guest’s initial, while the delicate candleholders were inspired by Peel’s “childhood memories of making masks in Italy with my family during Carnivale.”

Crafted from artisanal paper-mâché, the candleholders were created by local artisans, using the Serenissima’s traditional knowledge of mascherari [mask makers]. “Each one was hand-painted and sealed with gold leaf,” she reveals.

Adding a golden glimmer to each table and evoking Gabrielle Chanel's admiration for the color, the Murano glass bread plates were hand-painted with gold leaf by local artist, Daniela Poletti, individually engraved with La Biennale di Venezia LX on the front and CHANEL Culture Fund on the back.


Yana Peel and her team commissioned local artisans to create a custom Rococo wave-shaped table © Filippo Pincolini


Presented as a keepsake, guests were encouraged to take theirs home. The gilded theme was completed with Chiavari gold patina chairs, dating from the 1970s. "I love that we re-used something so fabulously vintage," admits Peel. "Only 121 chairs exist/remain in the world," The bespoke Laguna B glassware, whisked back to Chanel’s London HQ, is another top favorite. 

Whereas the night’s menu, created in collaboration with Arrigo Cipriani, defined a seamless exercise - as did the serving of Chanel wines, such as Domaine de l’Ile Porquerolles - a last-minute decision to have bowls of fruit sensuously spilling over each table proved problematic. "Cherries, we found out, were out of season," says Peel. So her team had to frantically source different markets outside Venice’s Mercato di Rialto. "But every great party comes with a last-minute challenge", she reasons. "It’s the small details that make the big picture."


The Chanel Culture Fund dinner at Palazzo Malipiero, Venice © Filippo Pincolini

Join the Cabana family