Photo Flash: Celebrating Charlotte Gainsbourg And Dominique Senequier At Fiaf's Trophee Des Arts Gala

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For the first time in its history, the French Institute Alliançe Francaise (FIAF) honored two women at its annual Trophée des Arts Gala on Monday, November 4th at The Plaza Hotel in NYC. This year's event honored actress and musician Charlotte Gainsbourg, who was recognized as someone who exemplifies FIAF's mission of French-American friendship and cross-cultural exchange. FIAF also fêted Ardian president Dominique Senequier, who received the Pilier d'Or for her contributions as a leading businesswoman to the French-American community.

Approximately 500 people attended the annual event - which raises funds to support FIAF's educational and cultural programs. VIPs on hand to celebrate with Gainsbourg and Senequier included the event's Master of Ceremonies Contessa Brewer (CNBC correspondant); FIAF President Marie-Monique Steckel; Cecile Andrau (Président of Givenchy Corp); Gérard Araud (Former Ambassador of France to the United States); Benjamin Beaufils (President North America, TAG Heuer); Janna Bullock (socialite); Leonardo Certain (Managing Director at Hermes of Paris); FIAF board chair Charles S. Cohen & Clo Cohen (dinner chairs); Bénédicte de Montlaur (CEO, World Monuments Fund); Nicolas de Rivière (Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations); Philippe Etienne (Ambassador of France to the United States); dinner chairs Betty and Jean-Marie Eveillard;Anne Fontaine (Designer); Jean Reno (actor, Pink Panther; Ronin);; Besiana Kadare (Albanian Ambassador to the UN); Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (Former VP of the Republicans /French Political Party); Anne-Claire Legendre (Consul General of France in New York); Marc Nicolosi (Managing Director North America, LVMH - Maison Berluti); Stéphane Ormand (General Manager USA - Air France KLM); Bertrand Pochet (CEO, Guerlain US); Frédéric Rozé (President & CEO at L'Oréal USA + Americas); dinner chair Nicole Salmasi; Charlotte Sarkozy (socialite); Richard and Elodie Taittinger (gallerist); Richard Tutino (Managing Director, Lazard); and Clémence von Mueffling (author).

The crowd chuckled as event Master of Ceremonies CNBC's Contessa Brewer began the evening by apologizing for her French and saying, "I promise that I won't practice on you people here tonight." A self-described Francophile, she first learned the language as a young reporter covering politics overseas. She came away from that experience less interested in politics - and more in love with all things French.

Gala chair Charles Cohen went on to highlight the powerful evening and its honorees, saying "Tonight we are honored to pay tribute to Charlotte Gainsbourg and Dominique Senequier. Each embody all that we stand for at FIAF, the friendship between our two countries and the desire to provoke cultural and commercial bridges."

Following Cohen, FIAF President Marie-Monique Steckel highlighted the importance of the evening saying, "For the first time in FIAF's history, we are honoring two women: Charlotte Gainsbourg and Dominique Senequier. Don't you think it's about time to celebrate strong and talented women? We do."

In fact, to showcase the new "assertiveness" among women, Steckel emphasized that throughout the evening only women will come to the stage - highlighting that the presenters and honorees were all women - by design.

After dinner, Dominique Senequier quoted Voltaire as she accepted the Pilier D'Or from Betty Eveillard, former managing partner of Lehman Brothers and one of the gala committee members.

Before Charlotte Gainsbourg took the stage, Anne-Claire Legendre took a moment to acknowledge the head of FIAF saying, "Tonight is a night for strong women, and I think there's one woman who deserves a round of applause: Marie-Monique Steckel."

Gainsbourg rounded out the evening, accepting the award with a poignant reflection: "A few years ago, I wouldn't have played along with this award. Tonight, I guess I still don't understand why I was willing to accept. Maybe I'm a little bit older. Maybe I'm a little less shy. Maybe I want to express through this award the incredible people I've worked with through music and cinema-starting with my father 36 years ago; my mother, of course; and my most recent film is with my longtime companion, Yvan. It's a family loop that means a lot to me."

Photo Flash: Celebrating Charlotte Gainsbourg And Dominique Senequier At Fiaf's Trophee Des Arts Gala
Charlotte Gainsbourg and Ardian President Dominique Senequier; with Event Co-Chair Charles Cohen, FIAF President Marie-Monique Steckel; Event Co-Chair Clo Cohen

Photo Flash: Celebrating Charlotte Gainsbourg And Dominique Senequier At Fiaf's Trophee Des Arts Gala
Zofia Barucka ad Jean Reno

Photo Flash: Celebrating Charlotte Gainsbourg And Dominique Senequier At Fiaf's Trophee Des Arts Gala
CNBC''s Contessa Brewer

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