On November 1st, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) presented their Fashion Forward event at the Altman Building in New York City. According to Dr. Marjorie Hill, CEO of GMHC, this was the first event of its kind for the renowned not-for–profit group, “We went out into the fashion and design industry and said we want to do a benefit that really focuses on your talent, your creativity, your business, but also your resilience in the fight against HIV. The organization is 26 years old, we were the first AIDS organization in the world, and we have never done a fashion event.”
The evening included a runway show, a silent auction, and a live auction that allowed guests to bid on a four-day/three night stay aboard an El Jefe, 115-foot motor yacht. The total package was valued at $50,000.
Tim Gunn served as the master of Ceremonies for the evening. When asked how he became involved in Fashion Forward, he said “I was walking into Central Park for the AIDS walk, and I met Kenneth Cox, who is the director for special events for GMHC, and he said, ‘’Tim Gunn, can I call you? Can we do something together?’ I said ‘absolutely’, and that’s how it all began.” Gunn also spoke about his new role as Chief Creative Officer of Liz Claiborne, “It is more profound in terms of my involvement with the company than I ever dreamed it would be. Bill McComb, who is the CEO… is an incredibly dynamic visionary and he’s rebuilding the entire company… and that requires taking it apart first. Every line we’re looking at in an unencumbered and fresh way and it’s all about irresistible product.”
After two hours of cocktails, mingling, and silent auction bidding, attendees were asked to take their seats in anticipation of the runway show. Introductory remarks were made by Mr. Gunn, Dr. Hill, and Peter Lichtenthall, President of Bumble and Bumble, and a GMHC board member.
Finally, the show began with looks by Perry Ellis, followed by the designs Peter Som, John Bartlett, Rag and Bone, Buckler, and Heatherette. At one point, the runway’s slippery surface caused a few models to lose their footing, but they took it in stride and the crowd responded with good-natured laughter. The finale featured a characteristically campy Heatherette bride and groom.
Departing VIP guests received a gift bag containing products from 2xist, Blue, Q, Bumble and Bumble, Iceland Spring, Kangol, Perry Ellis, Christopher Radko, and the Minnick Group at Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.