LOS ANGELES — This year’s Race to Erase MS — the gala cochaired by Tommy Hilfiger and Nancy Davis at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Friday — raised $2 million for multiple sclerosis research, pushing the total collected at the event to support the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis to $34 million over the last 17 years.
This story first appeared in the May 12, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I don’t think tonight has anything to do with fashion or music or any kind of business,” said Hilfiger, who has been involved with Race to Erase MS for 15 years. “It’s individuals who really care and want to do something special and endearing.”
Hilfiger’s sister and Davis, daughter of the late billionaire Marvin Davis, are both living with the chronic neurological disease. They marshaled their connections to put on an affair with a star-studded guest list and performances from Heart, Dr. Hollywood and Avril Lavigne.
“I’ve gotten to know Nancy Davis and her story. Over the last year, I’ve been doing whatever I can to help out,” said Lavigne.
The singer entertained the crowd, including Apolo Ohno, Lindsey Vonn, Kelly Rutherford, Sophia Bush, Gilles Marini, Jessica Lowndes, Brody Jenner, Taylor Dayne, Nicky Hilton, Brooke Burke, James Tupper, Buzz Aldrin, Phil and Robin McGraw, and brothers Christopher and Kyle Massey, with a set of five songs brought to crescendo with the 2002 hit “Complicated,” and a collaboration with Heart on the classic “Lean on Me.”
The event’s hallmark celebrity fashion show featured Hilfiger’s spring collection. Melissa Rycroft, Chelsie Hightower, Deborah Gibson, Drake Bell, Kelly Hu, Stephanie Jacobsen and Ali Landry, who carried her color-coordinated two-year-old daughter, strutted the runway.
Anne Heche was happy to watch from the sidelines. “I did the fashion show one year and Cindy Crawford was also in it. I was like, ‘I’m never going to do it again!’ I’ll wear a nice dress, but not on stage,” laughed Heche, who kept her promise in a Hugo Boss ensemble.
Much of the gala’s money was raised during the event’s auction, led by returning auctioneers Tom Arnold and Nancy O’Dell.
A Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 Coupe valued at $239,420 sold for $210,000, while a Maltese puppy was snapped up for $9,000.
“I don’t think I need any more dogs. I have enough pets,” declared Paris Hilton, who owns 17 Chihuahuas and a recently purchased pug. Her parents, Kathy and Rick Hilton, however, did spend $46,000 on a luxury yacht expedition to the U.S. Virgin Islands for six nights and seven friends.
Tony Dovolani of “Dancing With the Stars” spontaneously jumped out of the audience to offer private dance lessons and four tickets to the ABC show’s finale. He briefly demo-ed his skills onstage, which prompted one bidder to spend $7,000.