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RSVP : Fashionable Way to Raise Funds for AIDS


Getting there made people grumpy. Leaving made them grabby and pushy. But in the middle they seemed as happy as kids in a playpen, a giant, multicolored, noisy, eye-popping party playpen.

The occasion was the 10th annual California Fashion Industry Friends of AIDS Project Los Angeles fund-raiser honoring designer Todd Oldham, held Thursday evening in a warren of giant rainbow-striped tents at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

Those bused over from the MGM parking structure on Colorado Avenue envied those exiting from cars and limos with special passes at the tent entrance. "Not exactly a mood-setter. It'll take at least a half-hour to recover," murmured one bus passenger.

But once on site, the situation was much more democratic as the crowd munched chips and very garlicky dip during the cocktail hour. Silent auction bids were placed on quilts by major name designers, including Gucci, Richard Tyler and Nicole Miller. The result was an additional $31,000 in the kitty for APLA's anticipated total of more than $600,000.

Dinner was served at tables that double-dipped all the colors of the spectrum loved by Oldham. Primary color linens surrounded centerpieces of wheat grass mounds with hyacinths, freesia, tulips and ranunculus and chandeliers of twigs topped by faux leopard lampshades. The meal was not for carnivores: The entree was asparagus vinaigrette, potato and roasted pepper pancake, and ragout of wild mushrooms and artichoke with roasted vegetables. Oldham, a vegetarian, was heard discussing the benefits of such a diet with like-minded Tippi Hedren.

Ali MacGraw, tastefully low-key in simple white and black with slicked-back hair, stood out among the wildly dressed as she thanked guests for their support of APLA's 30 programs to help people living with AIDS.

APLA Chairman Dana Miller continued the thanks, reminding that "It's about people with AIDS. Seven new faces walk in every day to our center needing help."

"This energy, this all-in-it-together style is very Todd," said event chairman Michael Anketell as the crowd--which included Neiman Marcus' Burton Tansky and John Martens, Escada's Wolfgang Ley, MAC cosmetics' Philip Ing, comedian Sandra Bernhard, actress Sharon Lawrence, designer Harriet Selwyn, restaurateur Michael Roberts, hairstylist Martin Fassnidge and producer Steve Tisch--wedged in cheek by jowl to watch the fashion show from bleacher seats.

The sassy bump and grind parade of models in revealing outfits was greeted with appropriate "hot to trot" sports style cheers. The evening was topped off with Fran Drescher's voice piercing through the final applause as she presented Oldham with the Crystal Apple Award, screeching, "Don't call him an old ham, it's not true, he's a great soul," and reminding everyone to take home their bright colored bleacher cushions, stamped with the Oldham signature crown.

That should have softened the blow for those who had to get back on the bus to return to their cars, but, the E-ride over, they were all complaining again, pushing and shoving like kids tired and tetchy from too much stimulation.

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