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For a moment on Wednesday night at amfAR’s annual New York Gala, the cameras didn’t know what to do. The extended cocktail hour had ended, and the event staff was working to clear photographers out of the pinched aisles between tables at Cipriani Wall Street. A few lingered around Heidi Klum, who had just taken her seat, as a gossip columnist or two tried to discern if she was still wearing her wedding ring. (She did not appear to be.) Then came a late-arriving Lindsay Lohan, bleach blonde and dressed in all white. After an abbreviated lap around the space, the actress beelined for, and then enjoyed an excited conversation with, gala regulars Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn. The flashes lit up. And so began New York Fashion Week.

The AIDS charity’s unofficial kickoff soiree this year honored one corporate charity, Goldman Sachs Gives, and two individuals, Caroline Scheufele of Chopard and Roberto Cavalli, for their efforts in the fight to end the disease. Presented by Hublot, the dinner raised more than $1.4 million. Cavalli had seemingly dressed half the room, and was joined at his table by a trio of beautiful women clad in his designs: Julianne Moore, Cindy Crawford and Elizabeth Hurley.

This story first appeared in the February 10, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We were in Florence,” Moore recalled of her first meeting with the Italian designer. “We were shooting ‘Hannibal,’ and he invited everyone over to his house for lunch and then his factory to show us his textiles. He was so gracious and warm and generous. He’s a lovely, lovely person.”

A strong showing of models (Karolina Kurkova, Joan Smalls), actresses (Leighton Meester, Rose Byrne) and jet-setters (Alexa Chung, a quite pregnant Julia Restoin Roitfeld) populated the surrounding tables. Sarah Jessica Parker played emcee for the evening and oversaw a tribute to late amfAR champion Elizabeth Taylor. There were performances by Theophilus London and a crowd-pleasing Janelle Monáe. Auctioneer Lydia Fenet whipped up some excitement, with an assist from Padma Lakshmi, over a Robert Mapplethorpe portrait of Richard Gere in very tight jeans. It was all pretty familiar fare for a fashion week curtain-raiser, except, of course, for that incongruous pairing at the beginning of the evening.

“We were just saying hello to her,” Allen explained later of his meeting with Lohan. “I had seen her on New Year’s Eve. She was at a party that I was at, and we were just saying, ‘What a coincidence.’ That was the gist of it. I’ve only met her those two times in my life.”

That sounded like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“I hope so,” Allen said.

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