Inside New York’s #BeEpic annual amfAR gala

“Bold-faced names ranging from Sienna Miller and Scarlett Johansson to Adrien Brody and Buzz Aldrin showed up in freezing rain and snow to empty their pockets in the name of AmfAR on Wednesday night, for the annual gala benefiting the foundation for AIDS research” reports Vanity Fair on the event which brings a cause to fashion.

The amfAR Gala New York serves as the unofficial kick-off to New York Fashion Week and honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS. This spectacular black-tie event will feature cocktails, a seated dinner, a live auction of luxury items, musical performances, and a special tribute to our honoree.

Taraji P. Henson, Sienna Miller, Queen Latifah, Heidi Klum, Adrien Brody, Halsey, Rachel Brosnahan, Sara Sampaio, Hailey Baldwin, and Kenneth Cole were among those gathered at the 20th annual amfAR Gala New York at Cipriani Wall Street to pay tribute to writer, producer, and director Lee Daniels and W Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Stefano Tonchi for their longstanding commitment to the fight against AIDS.

Other guests included Alexander Vreeland, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Caroline Vreeland, Leelee Sobieski, Serayah, Olivia Culpo, Joan Smalls, Lais Ribeiro, Alexandra Daddario, Odeya Rush, Coco Rocha, Karen Elson, Georgia Fowler, Nina Agdal, Sofia Resing, Alina Baikova, Ashley Graham, Justine Skye, Nicola Peltz, Anwar Hadid, Lucy Hale, Devon Windsor, Hailey Clauson, Sailor Brinkley Cook, Martha Hunt, Andreja Pejic, Blanca Padilla, Sistine Stallone, Gala Gonzalez, Valery Kaufman, Helena Borden, Jessica Hart, Paige Reifler, Sanne Vloet, LaLa Anthony, Grace Elizabeth, Jackie Cruz, Tobias Sorensen, Adam Kenworthy, Chase Hill, Tyler Clinton, Jonas Tahlin, Chris Salgardo, Susanne Hatje, and more.

Golden Globe winning and Academy Award nominated actress and event host Taraji P. Henson opened the evening, welcoming guests and thanking the fashion community for their continued support of amfAR. She incentivized the audience to get involved in the fight for a cure, reminding them that there are still 37 million people living with HIV worldwide. amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost took the stage to celebrate the life of amfAR Founding Chairman Dr. Mathilde Krim, who passed away on January 15, recognizing that, “there is joy to be found in knowing that so many millions of people literally owe their lives to this great woman.” A moving video tribute, including a message from former President Bill Clinton, demonstrated Dr. Krim’s lifelong dedication to human rights and the fight against AIDS. Kenneth Cole also took the stage and spoke of his admiration for Dr. Krim, his work with her, and the legacy she left behind for amfAR.

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Alexander Vreeland and Lisa Immordino Vreeland presented the amfAR Award of Courage to their close friend Stefano Tonchi, noting his ability to take on challenges and to use his unique journalistic voice to raise AIDS awareness. Accepting his award, Tonchi harked back to the time when AIDS-related stigma led many to “repress their real identities,” and emphasized Dr. Krim’s “battle against superstition, ignorance, and discrimination.” He concluded by saying that we must continue to fight for a cure “in the name of all those who fought this fight before us.”

Taraji P. Henson made a Perrier-Jouët toast before introducing award-winning actress, singer, and songwriter Queen Latifah to the stage. Queen Latifah presented Lee Daniels with the amfAR Award of Courage, describing his past work with HIV/AIDS patients. She also shared that as a gifted creative force, he creates “unfailingly human” characters, who are “often striving to rise above difficult circumstances.” In his acceptance speech, Lee Daniels spoke about a generation lost to AIDS, and said that the crisis had taken at least 40 of his personal friends. In the fight against AIDS, he said it is important to “step up when it matters.”

The evening’s fundraising efforts began with a Givergy pledge drive in which amfAR trustee Aileen Getty generously offered to match every gift donated – dollar for dollar – up to $100,000, in loving memory of amfAR’s Founding Chairman Dr. Krim. Guests bid generously and enthusiastically and raised an additional $125,000, which exceeded amfAR’s goal. Anyone who donated over $500 will receive a copper pineapple gift set, courtesy of Absolut Elyx.

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Some highlights of the live auction, conducted by Alexander Gilkes, included a Harley-Davidson Softail Breakout motorcycle ridden in Kiehl’s LifeRide for amfAR, presented by amfAR supporters Heidi Klum and Maxwell; a trip for two to Paris and Epernay, featuring a private tour and tasting at Maison Perrier-Jouët; a luxurious 7-night stay at the One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico; a Lee Daniels on-set experience; an untitled photograph by Cindy Sherman; Alex Prager’s photograph, Act I; Katherine Berhardt’s painting, Turqouise Miami, Dark Net; a work from LeeLee Kimmel’s first solo exhibition; and Andy Kissing John Lennon, a photograph by Christopher Makos.

The event raised $1.6 million for amfAR’s life-saving AIDS research programs.

Since 1998, the amfAR Gala New York has become one of New York City’s most successful and high-profile AIDS benefit events. The Gala consistently attracts—and salutes—some of the biggest names in entertainment, fashion, art, and AIDS advocacy. To date the amfAR New York Gala has raised more than $19 million.

Cover Image via Facebook/amfarthefoundationforaidsresearch