Sarah Jessica Parker headlines celeb-filled gala

JOCELYN NOVECK AP National Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- A chance to kiss the buff, shirtless Richard Gere of the early '80s? Sold, for $20,000!

It wasn't exactly a time machine that was auctioned off at the annual amfAR AIDS charity gala kicking off New York Fashion Week on Wednesday evening. Rather, it was a black-and-white portrait of Gere by famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who himself died of AIDS in 1989. Displaying the photo from the stage, cookbook author and TV personality Padma Lakshmi kissed it a few times to demonstrate its appeal.

The gala, held in the cavernous event space at Cipriani Wall Street, is a staple event on the fringes of New York Fashion Week. This year, it was hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker, and featured performances by Brooklyn rapper Theophilius London, R&B singer Janelle Monae, and opera singer Michelle Johnson, who sang in tribute to the late Elizabeth Taylor -- founder of the AIDS charity.

But whatever was happening onstage, it was at least as interesting to stargaze among the guests, an eclectic mix of fashion, Hollywood, music and medicine. Fashion luminaries included designer Kenneth Cole, "Project Runway" host Heidi Klum (and judge Nina Garcia), Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford, who presented an award to Italian designer Roberto Cavalli.

Actress Julianne Moore was there, as was Stanley Tucci and director Woody Allen, seated between his wife and Mathilde Krim, founding chairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, or amfAR. Actress-singer Jennifer Hudson grooved to Monae's performance. Lindsay Lohan showed up in a demure, long-sleeved white dress.

The event raised more than $1.4 million for AIDS research, the group said. Other honorees, besides Cavalli, were Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele, and Goldman Sachs Gives.