Comedy, charity and plenty of champagne were on the menu at amfAR on Thursday night as the stars came out for Cannes' fanciest party at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes. Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue and a spectacular fashion show a la former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld also fed the VIP crowd in between courses. Diane Kruger, Cannes' mistress of ceremonies, Berenice Bejo and Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai shined on the red carpet.
Karl Lagerfeld and amfAR co-chairs Kenneth Cole, Harvey Weinstein and Michel Hazanavicius added male star power to the event.
The gala started off with a cocktail under the sun that, after days of rain, finally made it to the Riviera just in time for the event. Guests sipped amfAR's official drinks from Moet Hennessy and nibbled on petit fours before heading to their seats for the dinner and auction.
Seduced and Abandoned star Alec Baldwin abandoned his hosting duties just before the event after rumors that event chair Harvey Weinstein pulled the actor from the job after a feud earlier in the festival. Kruger chatted tableside for a while with Gerard Butler while Kruger's beau Joshua Jackson worked the room. Over at Chanel's table, a very French crowd stuck together including last year's Jury Prize-winning Polisse director Maiwenn, actress Elodie Bouchez, Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton director Loic Prigent.
Spouses Hazanavicius and Bejo remained side by side for the evening mingling with both French film biz "amis" and newer Hollywood friends. Milla Jovovich and Antonio Banderas gave each other a warm greeting and chatted near the entrance.
Lagerfeld arrived fashionably late and was still making his way to his table when the event began with Fun. performing their hit "We Are Young."
Stars opened their hearts and their wallets to raise money for AIDS research while they dined on pea veloute with truffles and cod meuniere and sipped the evening's official champagne Moet and Chandon and washed everything down with a Hennessy fine de cognac.
Heidi Klum started off the event by Weinstein's side as the bidding started slowly. "If a man buys the watch, Heidi Klum will give that man a massage," Weinstein announced before the Cartier watch and massage a la Klum went for 50,000 euros.
The champagne was free -- other than the six bottles of Moet & Chandon’s century-old grand vintage collection from 1911 that the luxury champagne brand auctioned off for $150,000.
"There's no price for that. We never sell it,"resident and CEO Stephane Baschiera said of the evening's most expensive drink.
Other unique items up for auction included Ron Wood's guitar, the chance to star in a short film by Lagerfeld with a suite at Lucien Barriere group's hotels and a private screening for the winner's 50 closest friends courtesy of the Weinstein Co.
Brett Ratner auctioned off a photo from his "best friend" Jean Pigozzi with a bit of humor, calling the event's venue the "hotel du crap" and soliciting his other friends for money.
"Chris Tucker, how much are you going to pay for this painting, man?" he asked. "You made me rich, so I know you're rich."
Roitfeld styled and staged a major fashion show featuring black dresses from 20 designers including Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, event chair Kenneth Cole, Balenciaga and Fendi.
Backstage, director Fabien Constant shot Roitfeld for his documentary on the French fashion icon Mademoiselle C in Cannes. The fashion focus comes as no surprise with this year’s festival being even more å la mode than in the past with a jury including designer Jean Paul Gaultier and actress, model and fashion lover Kruger.
Amid all of the glitz and glam, Cannes has found time for benevolence this year. Fest organizers said Thursday that the Haiti: Carnival in Cannes event last week raised more than $2 million. An initiative of fest topper Thierry Fremaux, the event presented by Giorgio Armani benefited Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief, Paul Haggis’ Artists for Peace and Justice and Petra Nemcova’s Happy Hearts Fund and attracted an A-list crowd including Butler, Jessica Chastain, Ben Stiller, Sean Combs and Robert De Niro.
The American Foundation for AIDS Research supports HIV research, prevention, treatment, education and the advocacy of AIDS-related public policy. The event has raised more than $70 million since launching in Cannes in 1993. This year's gala raised nearly $11 million.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Lee Daniels' The Paperboy screened in Competition at the festival before stars Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey headed to the Carlton Cinema Club for a beachside soiree.