“Just pretend that you’re waiting, cool,” a young woman instructed her suited date, who leaned against the exterior of Cipriani 42nd Street for a prime photo opp.
Inside the venue, a string of high-profile Lyme disease advocates — Bella Hadid, Yolanda Foster, Ally Hilfiger — were also posing for cameras at the second annual Global Lyme Alliance Gala. “That if you look great, if you look fine, then you must not be sick,” Hilfiger, dressed in a two-piece Katie Ermilio gown, said about the biggest misconception surrounding the disease. She has taken a particularly vocal stance about her struggle, releasing a memoir, “Bite Me,” earlier this year. “I feel that it was meant to be that I got so sick. Maybe I can use my platform to benefit others,” she explained. “We really, really, really need to find a way to more accurately diagnose and treat this disease.”
The night, MC’d by Rosanna Scotto, raised money and awareness for research and education about the tick-borne disease, and also honored Heather Glass, Arthur J. Mirante II, Karen Peetz and Bella Hadid for their active role in finding a cure. A performance by Rob Thomas was included for good measure.
“This disease has brought me and many others to our knees. You don’t get it until you get it,” Foster said, tearing up. “I am so grateful and proud of my daughter Bella for understanding the higher purpose of her journey.”
Hadid was low-key but visibly emotional throughout the evening, sitting at a center table next to her dad and mother. Despite not feeling well, she mustered the energy to share her struggle onstage. “Like a lot of teenagers today, my teen years were taken away from me,” Hadid said while accepting her award. “I know what it feels like to not be able to not get out of bed because of bone pain and exhaustion…life isn’t always what it looks like from the outside. The hardest part of this journey is to be judged by the way you look instead of the way you feel.”
After dinner, Scotto tapped into the influence of pop culture to sell the first auction lot of the night, a ticket to Tommy Hilfiger’s next fashion week show and private dinner for 10 at Cipriani. The tactic worked — it sold for $100,000.
Other gala attendees didn’t walk away empty-handed, either. “I feel like Oprah Winfrey,” Scotto declared to the packed event hall. “You all get a copy of Ally Hilfiger’s book!”