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Every so often, a fashion week party manages to overshadow the collections themselves. This year, Madonna and Gucci’s Raising Malawi Event at the United Nations stole the spotlight, and even celebrities turned up with their cameras at the ready. “It’s for my blog,” said Martha Stewart, who had plenty to shoot, from Madonna’s fellow Kabbalists (Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore) to her Scientology rivals (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) to the divas who would normally be considered competition (J.Lo and Gwen Stefani). Also added into the mix were Donald Trump, Rosie O’Donnell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, Amy Adams, Debra Messing, Drew Barrymore, Diane von Furstenberg, Barry Diller and Donna Karan.
This story first appeared in the April 7, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s the cause,” said Sean “Diddy” Combs. “Madonna, Gucci and fashion week. You gotta make it.”
A giant tent opposite the main building of the U.N. was Gucci-fied to the point where it was almost a surprise the food itself wasn’t slick and black. Organizing the evening was no small feat, but Madonna was not surprised that she’d managed to pull it off. “I had Gucci and UNICEF on my side, so that helped. It’s pretty chic, isn’t it?”
The dresses were long, the speeches were longer and the humor in them was often unintended. (“People always ask me why I chose Malawi and I say I didn’t,” Madonna said. “It chose me.”) Still, it’s hard to find much fault when $5.5 million is raised and split between UNICEF and an impoverished African nation.
After dinner, comedian Chris Rock cohosted an auction and changed the somewhat serious mood of the evening by announcing: “Under each chair tonight is a Malawian child. Everyone gets one.”
While the audience laughed, bidders turned serious with prices reaching the stratosphere. First up, a trip for two to Milan, which went for $60,000. Then, a package that included tickets to the season finale of American Idol, and lunch with Adam Sandler. As the bids reached $95,000, Rock added: “For $100,000, you can f–k Paula Abdul, too.” It went for $95,000.
A trip to Paris and the Chateau Latour vineyard in France went for $120,000, followed by $320,000 for a sports package that included a meet-and-greet with A-Rod and an hour-long soccer game with David Beckham. The last item on the block was a trip to New York with four VIP tickets to Madonna’s next concert and a dance aerobics class with her and Paltrow. It sold to a Japanese lingerie mogul named Mika Noguchi for $600,000. “I’m just glad I didn’t go for $40,000,” Madonna said.