LOS ANGELES — “We’ll do whatever it takes from rock ’n’ roll, celebrities and fashion to auctions and calling in every favor I’m owed,” said Tommy Hilfiger, co-chair along with philanthropist Nancy Davis of the 11th annual Race to Erase MS benefit Friday night.
Held at the Westin Century Plaza Hotel here, the gala was attended by more than 1,200 people and raised $2.5 million for the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis. Like Davis, Hilfiger’s sister has MS, and the designer works closely with Davis in planning every detail of the event.
“We have created something unusual and exciting that people look forward to every year. It’s such a personal mission for Nancy and I that we would never let it be a flop,” Hilfiger said. “Ultimately, our goal is to raise enough money to find the cure for MS and that is getting closer to being a reality.”
For the past 10 years, Davis has hosted one of Los Angeles’ most successful annual benefits, but she still suffers from the number one party-throwing fear. “I always think nobody is going to show up,” said pregnant-with-twins Davis. “I’m going to have planned this whole thing and I’ll walk into an empty ballroom.”
Her worries were unfounded.
The event — attended by Amy Brenneman, Lara Flynn Boyle, Jamie-Lynn DiScala, Molly Sims, Michael Chiklis and Anjelica Huston — started with cocktails and an auction of items that included gift certificates to Burberry and Barneys New York, Super Bowl 2005 tickets and a walk-on part on “CSI.” Competition was fierce for the English bulldog puppy, which eventually went home with Montel Williams for $17,000. He explained, “I fell in love the minute I saw him. We gladly made room at our table for one more.”
The Tommy Hilfiger fashion show was inspired by the evening’s theme — GlamRock to Erase MS. Hilfiger, decked out in his own designs and a vintage tie, said, “This is a chance to see H in its most glam form. I made some new things and a lot of pieces are items we made for celebrities that were never available in the store because they were too funky or too expensive.”
“The Apprentice” runner-up Kwame Jackson, one of several celebrities striking a pose in the show, wasn’t convinced he was funky enough for the gold leather pants he was asked to wear. “They’re hard to walk in. I’ll settle for being able to breathe. At least if I fall or look dumb, I’ll know it was for a good cause.”
Other famous folk-turned-models included “Bachelorette” Meredith Phillips and fiancé Ian McKee, Kimberly Stewart, Henry Simmons, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Jordana Brewster, Nicole Richie and Mischa Barton, who’s dating Brandon Davis, son of Nancy Davis.
Cyndi Lauper got the crowd out of its seats with a combination of her greatest hits, standards like “At Last” and wild antics like climbing on top of the piano and serenading the wait staff. Hilfiger requested “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and when the singer obliged, he jumped on stage to shake his groove thing with Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna. Thora Birch said, “I was a girl who just wanted to have fun when I was a kid, and it’s kitschy to see her now.”
David Lee Roth, who dueted with Natalie Cole, closed out the evening with his former chart toppers. Ray Romano was impressed. “I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool things in life but tonight I got to tell a room full of men in suits to give it up for David Lee Roth. This is going on my list.”
— Carrie Bell