Party for a purpose.  Friendly fashion.  A night for a cause.

Call it whatever you’d like, but the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) 2011 Fashion Forward event is all of these things. And in its 5th year, the HIV/AIDS prevention nonprofit did not fail to bring out the big guns (think: Jean Paul Gaultier’s fashion archives) to celebrate.

The usual crowd of about 700 guests gathered at the Metropolitan Pavilion wearing everything from capes to sequins, fur, and $100 nail designs. It was an event that called for their very best avant garments and statement-worthy accessories; clearly, the theme of the night was ‘dress to stand out!’

Not to be upstaged by the fashion, a round of live auctions and nearly 100 silent auctions served as a reminder that money talks as well. The donations helped to bring awareness to an epidemic that has claimed the lives of fashion icons Perry Ellis and Halston.

Co-hosts Tracee Ellis Ross and Brad Goreski kicked things off by modeling their own colorful ensembles on the runway. It was a fun way to get the crowd excited for an eight-part fashion show that included designers Chris Benz, Thom Browne, Marlon Gobel, Sally LaPointe, Zang Toi, Timo Weiland and VPL. The show closed with signature looks from Jean Paul-Gaultier’s archive collection – a mixture of paint-splattered tops, military-inspired coats, and men wearing skirts.


The night also honored entrepreneur and philanthropist Julie Macklowe, who received the inaugural Style Vault award from Decades owner Cameron Silver. In a short speech, Julie encouraged the audience by saying, “if all of us make a contribution, I know that we can eradicate this awful disease.” Designer Chris Benz recorded a video tribute for Julie that played shortly after she finished her speech.

The fashion shows made up for what seemed to be a dragging start. The short, flawless runway presentations had revived the audience’s excitement again. A cheering crowd applauded veteran models like Jenny Shimizu, who walked out pairing stylish androgynous outfits with a fierce face. In one final walk, all of the models had come out to farewell the audience. Soon after, the night was over.

The event was sponsored by Bank of America, and guests enjoyed complimentary cocktails by 42 Vodka throughout the night.

– Tracey

Photos courtesy of BFA and by Tracey Lewis for Socially Superlative