Photo: Pablo Frisk

As New York Fashion Week comes to a close, there could be no better moment to talk about something other than clothes—and if that helps save the environment, all the better. Tuesday night (in between the Coach 1941 show and Tory Burch’s dinner, to be precise) Lauren and Andrés Santo Domingo opened their Gramercy Park townhouse to support Conservation International, an organization committed to the stabilization, protection, and rehabilitation of our planet’s ecosystems, writ large. If CI’s mission sounds ambitious, that’s because it is. They operate across more than 30 countries, focusing on tropical climates (but serve the glaciers of Mt. Kilimanjaro as well) and fund more than one thousand various projects simultaneously; their work is so far flung that often the only thing the undertakings have in common is a shared global mission. Dr. M. Sanjayan, CI’s immensely well-traveled executive vice president and senior scientist, was on hand to answer questions and regale everyone with adventure stories, too.

In the Santo Domingos’ garden, guests could test out Oculus Rift headsets, which were showing a virtual-reality film called Valen’s Reef, transporting viewers to the waters of the Raja Ampat Islands, site of one of CI’s greatest success stories (the tiny string of islands off Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua, is home to more than ten times more species of hard coral than the entire Caribbean). In less than eight short minutes, the film was convincing not only of CI’s potential for impact, but also of the power of virtual-reality storytelling too. “Nature gives us so much,” Dr. Sanjayan later said to a gathered crowd. But knowing his audience, he added, “whether it’s the water you drink or the coconut water you drink.”


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