There was something for everyone: style, show-biz flair, camaraderie, nostalgia, friendly competition and, above all, a somber reminder of the times in which we live.
Organized by members of the California fashion industry, the event was held last Friday night at the Century Plaza Hotel to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles.
The $200-per-person evening, two years in the making, according to steering committee chairman Michael Anketell, included a tribute to legendary designer Adrian, as well as a silent auction of "sweat shirts" by leading California designers.
Intent on giving the fund-raiser their all, most of the 53 West Coast talents went beyond just sweat shirts. Carole Little's bridal creation--a veil, a lace-trimmed top and a frothy lace skirt--was typical of the elaborate outfits offered to the highest bidders.
The most original approach came from John Scott of Campus Casuals, who created a sweat-shirt sculpture that brought in $1,200, top bid of the night. By early this week, with auction and attendance figures tallied (but pledges still rolling in), Anketell calculated the event had netted more than $200,000.
A sense of purpose, unmistakable among the black-tie crowd of more than 600, was reinforced at dinner, when the Rev. Alice Callaghan delivered a moving invocation and George Rudes, industry chairman for the event, eloquently urged guests to continue their support and involvement.
In a subtle change of pace, master of ceremonies Roddy McDowall took the podium to introduce rare MGM film clips and an equally rare procession of 140 pieces from the privately owned Adrian collection.
An evening that brought out fashion luminaries James Galanos and Anne Cole--along with Hollywood celebrities, such as Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, Cornel Wilde and Carol Kane, among others--was considered by virtually everyone "one of the best fund-raisers they ever attended," Rudes said. "It had everything."
Glint of Gold
What it didn't have was the flamboyance of many fashion-industry galas. At moments, there was nothing on the horizon but a sea of black dresses, highlighted here and there by the glint of gold or the gleam of pearls.
Among the men who wore tuxedos-with-a-twist was designer Kevan Hall, in a bugle-beaded cummerbund under a Jean Paul Gaultier tux jacket with a gathered waistband.
And then there was rock star Sam Harris, who wrapped up the evening in song, dressed in a stately tuxedo and a pair of wild tennis shoes.