Recession be damned, stars turned out in impressive force to celebrate and raise awareness for amfAR's Inspiration Gala, a celebration of men's style, honoring Jean-Paul Gaultier and Ricky Martin. "I had no idea I was the first," admitted Gaultier of the inaugural event, whose dress code was billed as "Black Tie/Black Leather." "I guess it's because I'm the oldest one," he chided, adding jokingly that he was wearing black leather underwear. As the likes of Zoë Saldana, Lance Bass and Joel Schumacher mingled with industry and social stalwarts Marc Jacobs, John Demsey, Jennifer Creel and Tinsley Mortimer, amfAR crusader Kenneth Cole couldn't help but quip, "I wondered if black tie with black leather was an inspiration ball or a perspirational ball."
Regardless, the several hundred guests in attendance were clearly entertained, treated to a seemingly never-ending evening that began with cocktails at the New York Public Library, followed by a 49-look fashion show, seated dinner and concert by Cyndi Lauper. Piaget, the evening's chief sponsor, accessorized 32 models in its signature timepieces (and donated a watch for the live auction) and helped raise more than $140,000 to benefit AIDS research.
During the fashion show, which featured brands ranging from Bottega Veneta and Tom Ford to Michael Bastian and Bess, Gaultier and his date, Minogue, clapped wildly and loudly as each look strutted by. Minogue, however, was clearly biased--a notion further reinforced, and raising some eyebrows in the process, when Gaultier thanks her and her "fiancée," model Andres Velencoso, on stage (the model's agent had no comment when later asked). "I regret not to have created the most beautiful outfit of the century, which is the one that protects. It is the condom," said Gaultier as he accepted his award following an introduction by Minogue, who, upon seeing the number of men in attendance clad in skirts, declared, "If you have nice legs, you've got Gaultier to thank for making that acceptable." Martin, meanwhile, who arrived with model Esther Cañadas, awkwardly dedicated his award to a pregnant young girl in Cambodia who he said he was speaking on behalf.
During the live auction portion emceed by Barneys New York creative director Simon Doonan, a "musical date" with Minogue went for $11,000 to Lorenzo Martine while an eight-day cruise to the Baltics with Cheyenne Jackson sold for $7,000. Following the auction and before dessert, Lauper took to the stage with Estelle and Kelly Rowland and had most of the crowd on their feet with their rendition of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" followed by an unplugged, and heartfelt, performance of "True Colors."