There were Gatsby parallels aplenty at amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS fund-raiser at Antibes’ legendary Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc Wednesday night. The lush property, remember, was where F. Scott Fitzgerald escaped in winters, recasting it as the Hôtel des Etrangers in Tender Is the Night. On top of that, there was the glittery attire, the bottomless flutes of Moët champagne, a businessman serendipitously named Milutin Gatsby, and even Leonardo DiCaprio himself, but the gala’s muse was Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
This was the twentieth anniversary of Cinema Against AIDS, and Taylor’s involvement and support of it until her death, in 2011, was one of the evening’s big talking points. Jessica Chastain spent part of the pre-dinner cocktail explaining how she felt wearing Taylor’s jewels (purchased by Bulgari at the icon’s estate auction) to the Cleopatra anniversary party two nights earlier. “It was like she was next to me the whole time, saying, ‘Gimme back my necklace!'”
Taylor’s likeness also appeared in the illustrations that showed off the thirty-eight outfits for the runway interlude: “The Ultimate Gold Collection,” curated by Carine Roitfeld. Significantly larger than last year’s “Perfect Black Wardrobe” show, this one combined Roitfeld’s homage to Taylor—specifically, Cleopatra—with the sexy swagger of a Victoria’s Secret production. “One of you lucky people will take home all of these dresses, all of these suits, and not one of these models,” quipped Sharon Stone. Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, Karolina Kurkova and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley all vamped as if dancing in a music video. In fact, the show was simultaneously Webcast on lovegold.com.
By the time Stone had eked out a final bid (she shared auction duties with Simon de Pury), the dresses had sold for 1.2 million euros ($1.56 million) to South African business tycoon Patrice Motsepe and his wife Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe. The former doctor and current humanitarian said she plans to exhibit the collection as inspiration for emerging African fashion designers. “AIDS in Africa has been a big problem,” said Moloi-Motsepe. “I’d like to use fashion to deal with issues that are important in the world.”
Other auction lots—orbiting space on a Virgin Galactic flight with DiCaprio, a family portrait by Annie Leibovitz, and a Bulgari watch off of Adrien Brody’s wrist—might have contributed to a delayed dinner, each course served atop Roberto Cavalli-dressed tables. But by the time Duran Duran performed, around midnight, guests were more enthusiastic about the entertainment than the mille-feuilles.
Sally Morrison, an amfAR veteran and confidante of Taylor who is now LoveGold’s director of jewelry for the U.S., reflected on the organization’s twenty years. “[Liz] would have loved it. She would have been amazed that a little dinner that she started in a small, secluded restaurant in Mougins had grown up to be the biggest and most glamorous event at the Festival.” Or, as eight-time chairman Kenneth Cole explained to Style.com, “Tonight we celebrate how far we’ve come and reflect on how far we still have to go.” When asked what could possibly come after gold, Cole replied with the obvious, “Platinum.”