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Sean Penn, Giorgio Armani Put Focus on Haiti at Paris Photo L.A. Opening

Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Josh Duhamel and Fergie also joined the party on Thursday at Paramount Pictures Studios.
Sean Penn, Roberta Armani
Getty Images

It was a night to be captivated by Haiti's hope, loss and beauty through photography.

Paris Photo, the international art photography fair created in 1996, kicked off its first L.A. expo with parties and previews on Thursday at Paramount Studios. One of the exhibits to take part in the festivities included an exclusive cocktail party at Stage 5 for Giorgio Armani's "ACQUA #3," which showcased a new body of work by photographer Jim Goldberg. The images, taken in Haiti, capture the country's struggle to access clean drinking water as it tries to rebuild itself after the devastating earthquake in 2010.

Through Armani's "Acqua for Life" project -- which launched in 2011 -- the Italian designer has showed his support for water supply as an important social cause. He has already helped collect more than 95 million liters of drinkable water for Green Cross International and its programs in Ghana and Bolivia.

This year, "Acqua for Life" teamed up with J/P Haitian Relief Organization, Sean Penn's NGO dedicated to saving lives and bringing sustainable programs to the Haitian community.

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Penn arrived at the event in a Giorgio Armani cashmere tee and leather jacket and was quickly surrounded by photographers as he shook hands and chatted with Goldberg.

Goldberg, who spent only six days to capture Haiti, explained to The Hollywood Reporter that his goal was to capture the country's beauty despite its disaster-torn environment.

"What was surprising was learning very quickly about a place that is noisy with its history, noisy with its pain, and trying to make something really beautiful through that noise," said the American photographer. "And I think that's what I tried to do here."

While observing the country on his short photography trip, Goldberg commented that "Haiti is a very difficult place. It's beautiful, but at the same time, really sad."

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Armani's niece, Roberta, who was seen smiling and mingling with guests throughout the night, stepped aside from friends to tell THR about how her uncle decided to collaborate with the actor-activist.

"The collaboration with Sean Penn was natural. When the earthquake happened, he called my uncle to ask for support and it was a natural thing to do," said Roberta. "My uncle's motto is to make the world more beautiful so he always thinks there has to be a good cause [involved] in everything we do."

Penn has been an outspoken supporter of the effort to rebuild Haiti since the 2010 earthquake ravaged the country. In March, the actor-activist signed a $8.75 million grant with the Haitian government and the World Bank for a 16-month project to help some 14,000 people who are living in temporary camps managed by his J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO) transition back into their neighborhoods.

Penn and Roberta posed together for photos, and they were later joined by The Following's Kevin Bacon and wife Kyra Sedgwick from The Closer for a group shot.

Among the other celebrities who arrived to show their support included Fergie and husband Josh Duhamel, Minnie Driver, The Office's Ellie Kemper, model Poppy Delevingne, French actress Roxane Mesquida, Portia Doubleday, Abigail Spencer, Colin Egglesfield, 90210's Trevor Donovan, Charlie Carver and Max Carver.

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Guests sipped on a glass (or two) of wine and champagne with hors d'oeuvre served throughout the night as they admired the photos capturing the landscapes and people of Haiti.

"My uncle personally chose him because he liked his vision, his iconic view about things, and if you see, each photo has a soul," said Roberta of her uncle's decision to select Goldberg as the artist for the collaboration.

Following the cocktail, a private dinner was held at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills where a silent auction took place to support J/P Haitian Relief Organization.

Paris Photo L.A. is open to the public from April 26-28.

For more about Paris Photo, click here.