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The 28th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria on Tuesday night was “Hollywood Glamour”-themed in honor of the deceased screen legend. Most Manhattan-dwelling revelers interpreted “Hollywood” as floor-sweeping gowns, which made navigating the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf to peruse the silent auction wares an exercise in agility.
Naeem Khan, who dressed Rita Hayworth Award recipient Somers Farkas in a shimmering, molten silver backless column gown, grinned at all the pomp and circumstance present.
“Everyone looks beautiful,” the designer said. “It’s always a nice event, with everyone really dressed. Let’s hope we raise some money tonight.”
Farkas leaned over and kissed his cheek.
“Everyone’s been complimenting your design, Naeem,” she said, later demurring congratulations for the award, citing instead “how nice it is to see everyone here, how beautiful everyone looks.”
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Hayworth’s daughter, joined up with the Alzheimer’s Association in the early Eighties, establishing the gala fund-raiser in honor of her mother in 1984. She was happy that attention was being brought to the association.
“It was very small back then, the foundation, it’s grown so much. Alzheimer’s is an incredibly difficult disease,” Khan explained. “And there’s still no cure. But early detection makes a difference. Events like this, they make a difference, too.”
Gala chairs Anne Hearst McInerney and Jay McInerney held court in a doorway in the far corner of the cocktails space. There was a fair amount of Hollywood in the room, too, with Victor Garber, Devon Aoki, Harvey Keitel, Regis Philbin and Patricia Clarkson all on hand. Clarkson swept in shortly before the dinner, expressing excitement at the prospect of “celebrating a good cause, of course,” the actress said. Before sitting to dinner and a performance by Patty Smyth, who crooned “The Warrior,” Garber nodded towards an enlarged image of Hayworth’s face from the early Forties.
“She was a legend, one of the most beautiful women in the world,” the actor breathed. “Just look at that.”