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“It’s wonderful, but I am a little self-conscious about it,” Tom Ford said on Wednesday night. The designer was sandwiched between two of the most famously unself-conscious: Rihanna and Miley. You have to be to wear what they were wearing: on Miley, a glittery bondage look, with only two slim straps of beaded fabric keeping her nipples from being exposed (she would have been wise to have employed a generous amount of double-stick tape, as she had more than a few nip slips toward the end of the evening); on RiRi, a white floor-sweeping gown with purple paillette explosions — veritable pasties — obscuring each breast. They were both in Tom Ford, as were almost all the celebs at the party: Gwyneth Paltrow, Justin Timberlake, January Jones, Chris Martin (partially), Eddie Redmayne (partially). They were gathered to toast the designer at the annual amfAR Inspiration Gala for his philanthropic work for HIV-AIDS research. Tom being Tom, it was the honor — not the bare flesh — that was making him “self-conscious.”

“To be honored for inspiration? I’m lucky. I can donate money,” he said. “I can help in every way I can, but there are a lot of people out there really devoting their lives to this, and that, to me, is the most inspirational.”

This story first appeared in the October 31, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The bash was held at Hollywood’s Milk Studios, which was fitting considering Ford just revealed he’ll be showing his fall 2015 collection in Los Angeles to coincide with the Academy Awards. “London Fashion Week had moved up, and I’m usually in L.A. the weekend before the Oscars. We dress people. I’m here. I have a house here,” he explained. “My show was going to fall right on the same day as the Oscars. How much global press do you think I would have received showing in London when, the next day, red-carpet images from the Oscars [will be] all over the world in every publication? So I thought, ‘Well, why don’t I just go to L.A. and show on the Friday before?’ ”

During cocktail hour, more stars continued to pile in: Dita Von Teese, Kristin Davis, Lisa Kudrow, Rose McGowan, Michelle Rodriguez, Molly Sims, Milla Jovovich, Camilla Belle, Ashley Madekwe, Alessandra Ambrosio and Kenneth Cole. While Madekwe admitted to a few nerves in Ford’s presence, McGowan shared her own encounter with the designer. “I almost spilled my red wine on him at Sunset Tower recently,” she said. “It was like an NFL touchdown play: I hit the red wine, and it went flying in the air. He was wearing a white coat. I reached my arm around and smashed [the glass] in the other direction. The maître d’ said, ‘That would have been an expensive jacket to ruin for Mr. Ford.’ ”

There weren’t any wine spills or other mishaps at this dinner. Ford’s table was perfectly set. Timberlake snapped selfies with Ford, who was flanked on the other side by Rihanna. And with that, the show began.

“Tom Ford has been a loyal friend for nearly 20 years, which in the fashion and showbiz world has to be at least an entire lifetime,” introduced Paltrow, who hosted the night and proved to have a few tricks up her tuxedo-jacket sleeve. “I called an old friend who loves Tom as much as I do to see if a surprise performance might be in order. This brilliant singer-songwriter has sold 80 million records and won every single award that there is to be won… especially Father of the Year, which he has won consecutively since 2004.”

Her currently “uncoupled” ex, Chris Martin, then played a two-song set of Coldplay’s “Paradise” and “Viva La Vida.”

“If you’re wondering why we’re wearing these sort of bizarre outfits it’s because Tom Ford said to me, ‘If only half the band is coming, you can only have half a tuxedo each,’ ” said Martin between songs. “They sent us one tuxedo, and Jonny [Buckland] and

I fought for it all morning. He got the shirt. I got the jacket.

He got the trousers. I got the socks. And Tom Ford would not give us underpants.”

A spirited auction was led by Sharon Stone, who first thanked Paltrow for hosting, adding, “Thank you for your inner and outer beauty that’s demonstrated by the fact that you get along with your ex-husband.” Then it was down to business. Rihanna purchased a pair of platinum Harry Winston diamond link earrings for $35,000 and an Elizabeth Taylor photo by Willy Rizzo for $100,000. However, she walked away from a bidding war with Cyrus and Ford over a Ryan McGinley photograph. The piece went to the former Disney star for $300,000.

“I’m a little drunk. That’s why I’m half a million deep,” Cyrus later said of the purchase while on stage discussing her new role as the face of this year’s MAC Viva Glam campaign, a sponsor of the night. Moments earlier, the singer explained the purchase more diplomatically to WWD, saying, “I mean, I have to. I can’t just show up here and wear Tom Ford and be a face of MAC Cosmetics and not give any money. That would be really whack.”

Paltrow returned to the stage to introduce Rihanna but not before telling the audience, “OK, I’m drunk now, so this isn’t fair. And Miley Cyrus has so much more money than I do. F–k!”

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