He’s well used to the trials and tribulations of live breakfast television, but Karl Stefanovic met his match emceeing the second annual ladies luncheon in aid of The Royal Hospital for Women at Bistro Moncur on Friday afternoon.
Try as he might, the jovial Today show host, who was accompanied by his girlfriend Jasmine Yarbrough, had his hands full as he tried to quieten the chattering, well-heeled Woollahra socialites, including PR maven Roxy Jacenko, Real Housewives of Sydney’s Nicole O’Neil and her mother Maud Gazal, lifestyle influencers Kyly Clarke and Terry Biviano, Harper’s Bazaar editor Kellie Hush and charity queen Skye Leckie.
He only managed to conjure silence when he tempted guests with the list of charity auction items up for grabs – including a private dinner by chef Guillaume Brahimi for 10 guests (sold to Barbara Auswald for $20,000) and a bespoke Simon Johnson’s caviar experience, won by O’Neil for her mother for $6500.
Jacenko and Leckie went head-to-head for two tickets to the Lexus birdcage on Derby Day, with the Sweaty Betty boss taking the win for $7500.
The non-stop flow of vintage Moet & Chandon might have helped loosen the purse strings, with more than $150,000 raised ($15,000 more than last year) for The Royal Hospital for Women’s Newborn Care Centre at the event hosted by The Public House Management Group’s Harriet Waugh, who said she was “thrilled” with the result.
Stefanovic and Yarbrough were seated at the head table across from Jacenko, who was dressed in a bridal white jumpsuit.
While it looked like she might have had her upcoming second wedding to Oliver Curtis (who dropped to the knee and proposed for a second time post-prison) on her mind, she told Fairfax Media there are “no plans at the moment”.
“[Oliver] does look handsome in a three-piece suit, but not yet … we have been together now for seven years, maybe we’ll do it for our 10-year anniversary,” she said.
But she promised when it did go ahead it would be a typical Jacenko affair.
“It’ll be over the top,” she laughed. “We are not known for subtle. Less is never more. Although Oliver is shy – we are yin-yang. Thank God for that or we would be at each other’s throats.”
Life with Curtis, who she split from while he was in Cooma, is better than ever.
“He’s a different person now, he’s more content. Living with the fear of not knowing what will happen next is a horrible feeling. It went on for 10 years and now that chapter is closed for him,” she said.
“He’s working on a tech start-up called E-Nome, where people can access their medical records on their phones. I’m very proud of him. He has come out guns blazing and is ready to work.”
Jacenko was spotted warmly embracing Nicole O’Neil, sister of Jacenko’s ex-boyfriend, millionaire property developer Nabil Gazal, ahead of the lunch.
O’Neil, dressed in a pink Scanlan Theodore dress accessorised with sapphire and diamond brooches, was a fan favourite during season one of the RHOS and is expected for a return to season two, but she said it has yet to get the go-ahead.
“We have haven’t heard anything, but we know they have been looking out for new cast members,” she said.
Looking around the room, she added: “These women here today are the Real Housewives of Sydney, but the problem is 99 per cent of them would not be allowed to do it by their families or husbands. My family backed me on it.”
So might her mother Maud Gazal, who recently underwent a double hip replacement, be open to an appearance on the reality show?
“Not a chance,” she laughed.