By Michael O'Connell Posted February 12, 2010, 3:14 PM EST
NEW YORK At Wednesday's annual Amfar gala at Cipriani 42nd Street, the likes of Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, and Vanessa Redgrave raised money for the HIV and AIDS nonprofit's devastated Haitian outpost and took in a performance by Lady Gaga—whose addition to the program proved the linchpin in this year's event and prompted a change in direction for the designer.
“Really, we started out with a completely different story and decor,” said Dallas event designer and longtime Amfar partner Todd Fiscus. “And then Lady Gaga signed on. We needed the atmosphere to take on a more modern look, so we switched to a palette of red, black, and white.”
Gaga did her part to complement the decor by arriving on the red carpet covered head to toe in white make-up—provided, no doubt, by event sponsor M.A.C., for whom she's now a spokesperson—and pearls glued to her face and body.
Curiosity over what sort of spectacle the ubiquitous performer had planned and the tribute to late board member Natasha Richardson bolstered celebrity attendance and the event's $1.2 million take, much of which will go to Amfar's efforts in Haiti.
“We added a small live auction and a cash call for a program we run in Haiti,” said Amfar vice president and director of development Gregory Boroff. “We lost 14 men in our support group for people with HIV, and the building is 100 percent gone. The director of the program survived, so now we really just need to get a satellite location up and running. Fortunately, with all the ticket sales, we have our highest walk-in-the-door total for a New York event yet.”