Jumping ship from its previous host (the U.S.S. Intrepid), The 11th Annual Jeffrey Fashion Cares — the annual fundraising event benefiting HIV and AIDS research as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community — was held last night at The 69th Armory in New York City. It was my third year covering the event, joining a team of models, celebrities, the fashion industry's elite, and volunteers to create awareness of the cause and to support Jeffrey Kalinsky, founder of the event, and the important foundations and nonprofit organizations who benefit from the charitable donations.
Each year there are new faces joining the cause but what is most inspiring are the friends that I see every year with as much passion, commitment and determination in working to educate and improve the lives of people living with HIV or AIDS and their families. It's also amazing to hear about their progress in the last year. Achievements that wouldn't have been possible without the donations from Jeffrey Fashion Cares.
The Hetrick-Martin Institute, one of the JFC beneficiaries, is the nation's oldest and largest LGBTQ youth service organization. I asked HMI's executive director, Thomas Krever, what's been achieved in the year since we last spoke.
"We've been able to expand and create an advocacy center," Thomas said. "Last year we opened a training and capacity building, a place where community members can congregate, can come and really learn how to gain the skills and the education to go out and serve and protect, to ensure safer communities in New York City and far beyond."
Jeffrey Fashion Cares provides up to 85 percent of the donations to Hetrick Martin Institute and the three other beneficiaries, making it "one of the cornerstones of the organization and the work that we do," Thomas explains. "And you can't do advocacy, you can't teach others, you can't train if you don't have your home-base, if you don't have your structure, and if you don't have the resources to run quality programming. We are only able to provide quality training for other communities when our own programs work, and they only work because of functions like tonight [with] JFC providing operating dollars to help these young people, transform their lives, so that we can go and teach others the work that we are doing here in New York everyday."
Thanks to Jeffrey Fashion Cares, Thomas adds, Hetrick Martin "can no longer afford to be the best kept secret, and so its really our responsibility to go out and teach other communities how they can help too, because they already love their young people but they don't have the skills and tools [to help them] and that's where HMI comes in".
This year, JFC raised even more money for its beneficiaries and for 2015, HMI has already started a partnership with the federal government, working with USAID and the State Department on more training. Other beneficiaries of JFC included AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, The Point Foundation & Lambda Legal.
Jokingly saying that he should have played himself in Oscar-winning film The Wolf of Wall Street was Steve Madden, who presented the Community Leadership Award to author, lecturer, journalist, and LGBT activist, Rob Smith, for his contributions to the community. Joining JFC chairs, Christian Langbein and Michael Krans on the night was Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Veep actress Anna Chlumsky, CFDA CEO Steven Kolb, fashion designer Prabal Gurung and Paper magazine editorial director Mickey Boardman who sat in the front row for the runway show which included some of the industry's best male models.
Once again, Andrew Weir, casting director of JFC since the beginning, called upon the many familiar male models and a few JFC "virgins" to the runway. With some in more clothing than others, high-fashions designer labels such as Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy dressed models Chad White, Cory Bond, Brian Shimansky, Francisco Lachowski, Nick Youngquest, Eian Scully, Clint Mauro, Parker Hurley, Parker Gregory, and many more to made up the 42 spots.