[CFDA] was involved in a lot of smaller AIDS benefits and initiatives for quite a few years. And then honestly, the organization shifted gears a little bit and started to address breast cancer, and created Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, with a similar group of leaders from the industry: Donna, Oscar, and Ralph.
A lot of the biggest fundraisers then became all the morning parties in the Pines, which became these huge fundraisers. Then amfAR came, APLA came, all of those things came eventually. I worked on a couple of those in the early ’90s because Todd Oldham did one and Tom Ford did one. That’s when Hollywood got involved.
Your social life became one fundraiser after the other. I remember in 1991, we threw a party on Fire Island called the Pink Party, and we did it for 600 people. We did it simply because we wanted to throw a party without making people pay for anything.
Fashion’s Leaders Reflect on the Lessons Learned
The fashion industry was slow to respond at the beginning. The only person who really wrote about this stuff [from the beginning] was Bill Cunningham. In his party pages, he would go to every AIDS event and benefit, everybody that was doing something, all these grassroots groups, and he would write about it because nobody else was. I even interviewed him at the Y. He would cry when he would start to talk about it.
Avram Finkelstein, AIDS activist and artist
We needed fashion to be activists in a more direct way, much earlier on. Many years after protease inhibitors existed, when AIDS was no longer a death sentence, what does it mean to put your ass on the line then—as opposed to putting your ass on the line when no one knew who was at risk and how many people were going to die?
This generation that had so many who passed away, they were the bridge between the hippy attitude of the 1960s and the sexy glamour of the 1970s. I have a feeling that American fashion probably would have stayed a little bit more less of center, more outrageous. We think about talent like Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, Angel Estrada, the list goes on and on and on. We lost, maybe in America, a sense of experimentation, because that was a generation that definitely changed the rules of not just fashion, but of how you lived your life.