Much of fashion — and society, for that matter — is about smoke and mirrors. So for a member of either tribe to speak openly about his past depression and near suicide onstage at Cipriani 42nd Street is a rare thing. But on Thursday night, Michael Cominotto told the crowd at Silver Hill Hospital’s inaugural fund-raising gala about how deep in it he was and how the hospital helped to bring him, almost literally, back to life. His story of mental suffering left more than one editor teary.

The rest of the evening went against the grain, as well, according to Natalie Cole, who emceed the affair, which raised $1.3 million. “I knew Dennis [Basso, who co-chaired the evening with Cominotto] was going to ask me to sing,” Cole, a former drug addict, told the audience. “But he didn’t. So I said yes.”

This story first appeared in the November 15, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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