“We met on Bumble and I was like ‘hey, you want to go to amfAR?’”
The scene outside Cipriani Wall Street on Wednesday for the annual amfAR New York gala was, as evidenced, a mixed bag. The night’s big honoree, Donatella Versace, pouted for photographers with presenter Naomi Campbell; “snap pack” ringleader Andrew Warren texted his way across the red carpet, and, huddled by the security checkpoint, two lotharios were dishing on how they managed to score dates for the evening. Their app of choice? Bumble, which apparently doubles as “Tinder for fancy events!”
Versace shared the evening with Scarlett Johansson, as both were honored by amfAR for their work and support in HIV/AIDS research. They were joined by Iman — a last-minute fill-in for suddenly ill presenter Lena Dunham — as well as Heidi Klum, Diane Kruger, Mark Ruffalo, Zac Posen, Chloë Sevigny, Jeremy Piven (the self-anointed “poor man’s Tom Ford”), Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Zoë Kravitz and performer Ellie Goulding.
“My very first time was in Cannes and I gave Kenneth Branagh, the actor, a back rub,” said Klum of her amfAR appearances. “It was auctioned off for $50,000. I had to do it on the stage. He took his shirt off. It was kind of embarrassing. I was, like, for $50,000? Yes. I’ll massage everybody in here for $50,000. For $50,000 a pop, let’s go! I’ll take my rings off and here we go.”
“I’ve been to many amfAR events around the world and back,” Sevigny said, circling her table on the heels of the cocktail hour. Her favorite of the galas? “Well Cannes is Cannes, and that’s insane. But I’m a New Yorker so I love to be in New York — they always have people speaking that feel very representative of New York.”
Thursday’s forecast indicated the city might be overcome with a blizzard, undoubtedly causing panic for the publicists behind some of NYFW’s earliest events. The celebs, of course, were unruffled by the looming storm.
“I live across the street from Prospect Park, so maybe I’ll go sledding. I’d like that,” Sevigny said. “Last year when it happened I watched seven hours of that murder thing, the Netflix thing?” said Kruger of her snow day plans. “I went ice skating on Fifth Avenue…I love a blizzard. I hope it’s happening.”
Versace and Johansson met for the very first time at the benefit; during her turn at the podium, Versace praised the actress for “taking to Washington a few weeks ago, standing up for human rights and women’s rights.” Post speech, Johansson returned the praise. “I’ve actually never had the pleasure of meeting Donatella in person, although I’ve worn several of her pieces before [to events] and she’s very soulful,” she said, milling about between courses. “She’s a very soulful person. This is the first time I’ve ever met her. Isn’t that funny? It’s part of a magical thing — after all these years. She’s very soulful and very beautiful in person.”
The actress used her acceptance speech to tell the story of a family friend who died of AIDS in the early Nineties, with a touching monologue that she admitted needed some tweaking. “My original draft was pretty — I had to write it a few times,” she said with a laugh. “But I don’t know. It’s nice to have something exist in a time and place. It’s kind of like theater; it exists then and goes away. People that are there experience it and that’s also a beautiful thing.”