Film and fashion’s most notable talent braved rivers of slush and and sleet for amfAR’s exclusive annual blacktie gala on Feb. 5, held at the Wall Street outpost of tony pleasuredome Cipriani. The lavish soiree, sponsored by Bulgari, Wells Fargo, Mercedes Benz, and MAC Viva Glam, is just one of the many initiatives raising money for amFAR’s AIDS cure research.
“I did my first Broadway show when the crisis had just come to the forefront,” confessed Jane Krakowski, who lent her showstopping vocals to the evening’s star lineup. The first person I knew who contracted [HIV] was in the male chorus room ten years later, the majority of the chorus room was dead. When you’re that young, you’re not used to your friends dying.”
However, “the great news is, my friends aren’t dying anymore,” she continued. “What is wonderful about amfAR is that they’re actually finding the cure.”
Gala honoree and legendary fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh remains a staunch supporter of amfAR’s crucial research. “It’s nice to give something away, no? If you have the possibility, you should do it. Otherwise you work in a vacuum, a social black hole.”
“We are at a time in history where really enormous, big changes can be made,” stressed Alan Cumming. “Now is a time when we need to give an extra push if a few people can be cured [of AIDS], then millions of people can be cured.”
When asked about the enduring importance of practicing safe sex, Cumming had a trademark quip at the ready. “I’m wearing a condom right now,” he said, without blushing.
After the red carpet, guests settled in for an enchanted evening of live entertainment and spirited solicitation. Philanthropist and heiress Aileen Getty set the bar high with a gift of $1 million, with earmarks set to match the evening’s texted donations. Shortly thereafter, pledges ranging from $10 to $10,000 began appearing in real time on LED screens situated throughout the vaulted dining room.
The signature live art auction, a longstanding feature of amfAR galas past, featured among other things Derek Blasberg and supermodel Karlie Kloss modeling a pair of his-and-hers Bulgari timepieces (sold for $30,000). And, after a naughty introduction by Cumming, Nile Rogers and Grace Jones took to the stage for a medley of disco classics that recalled Dionysian days of Studio 54. Also in attendance were Ethan Hawke, Chelsea Clinton, Robin Wright (who also presented Lindbergh’s award), honorees Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson, Liam Neeson and supermodel Doutzen Kroes.
Hawke donated $5,000 to the cause, with a texted donation with the comment: “I’d do much more but I’ve been doing too much theater!”
The event raised $1.7 million for AIDS research. For more information about amFAR’s work in AIDS research, or how to help, visit www.amfar.org