The AmfAR Cinema Against Aids gala at the 65th Cannes Film Festival on Thursday lived up to its reputation as celebrities made their way to the auction, which is known for offering items at lavish prices.
The evening started with a bang as the stars embraced the limelight and posed for paparazzi. The star-studded ball was held at the exclusive Hotel Du Cap, overlooking the sea, and the calm breeze and clear skies livened up the spirits of the glitterati, who have attended movie premieres in pouring rain in the last few days.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan made an appearance wearing a heavily embroidered sari in white, red and golden hues, designed by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. With her hair piled high and sporting a gold hairband, Rai Bachchan worked her magic on the red carpet. Looking confident as ever, she brushed aside the negative vibes she's been receiving about her post-natal figure. "The baby's here in Cannes but not with me tonight, and she's doing well. It was easy to come tonight because I'm not making any films. I can't complain about being busy because hectic is always being redefined in the different stages of my life," she told tabloid!.
Mallika Sherawat wowed the carpet with her body-hugging, cream-coloured dress, with a hood, making Paris-based designer Ali Mahdavi the talk of the town and impressing critics with her "less is more" approach to fashion. Inspired by Marlene Dietriech, the dress was teamed with a red jewelled brooch in her hair. Sherawat admitted that the dress was not as comfortable as it looked but her high heels were chosen with the purpose of dancing in them.
"The gala is very important to me on a personal level because my best friend has Aids. The issue is a big one and it is important to create awareness in India because it affects so many communities there. This is my third time at Cannes and it's so magical with all these beautiful people."
Kylie Minogue, who wore a flashing red Emilio Pucci gown that perfectly flattered her petite frame, with a plunging neckline, graciously made sure to answer every question that was thrown her way.
The polite pop star and actress talked about Cannes as being incredible. "The experience is stimulating and it feels like a dream, that I have to pinch myself to be sure it's real."
Discussing her latest role in the French sci-fi film Holy Motors, which is one of the 22 films competing for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize, Minogue said: "She's a fragile woman and has an angelic look about her but is battling demons inside. The role was great and I loved the experience of filming it."
Milla Jovovich, who turned heads in her gold, futuristic-structured Atelier Versace dress, said, "If it wasn't the best, it wouldn't be Cannes. I love to support my amfAR family and fighting Aids is a global problem that affects everybody."
Reality star Kim Kardashian sent tongues wagging when she walked in without Kanye West and while everybody expected him to make a later appearance, he failed to show up.
Auctioneers had to pull much more than just a few strings to gets bids on ticket items during amfAR's Cinema Against Aids auction. Producer Harvey Weinstein was the main host of the evening.
Running fashionably late, the auction gala kicked off with performances by Aloe Blacc as he took to the stage to sing I Need a Dollar, while Jessie J performed Price Tag.
The financial crisis in Europe ultimately had an impact during bidding time, as auctioneers tried their very best by throwing in bribes to convince guests to make their bets.
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 were sold for €50,000 (Dh229,890).
Others did not act so tactfully, as in the case of US director Brett Ratner who turned on his friends and put them on a tight spot when auctioning a Jean Pigozzi photograph of Annie Leibovitz and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards from 1979.
But Weinstein had the last laugh and turned the tables, as he went on stage and yelled: "Brett Ratner makes $7 million a movie… sold to Brett Ratner!" he added, raising the director's hand in the air. The photograph set him back €160,000.
Despite the initial low bidding wars, this year's gala raised nearly $11 million. A collection of 1911 Moet & Chandon vintage champagne was sold at €150,000, an original Damien Hirst piece entitled Beautiful Nectar Painting, fetched €700,000, and an Andy Warhol image of Marilyn Monroe went for €600,000.
At the auction to star in designer Karl Lagerfeld's upcoming documentary, co-host Diane Kruger, who was wearing a short white Chanel short frock embellished with purple flowers at the front, threw in the chance to kiss her beau Joshua Jackson and only then did the bidding shoot up to €850,000.
For the first time in amfAR's history, a fashion show made up of more than 20 black dresses were modelled mid-way through the evening, and all the dresses that were sold will be tailored to the winning bidder's measurements. The little black dresses by Chanel, Dior, Armani, Kenneth Cole, Lanvin, Valentino, Tom Ford and Louis Vuitton, which was staged by former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief and stylist Carine Roitfeld, were sold at a whopping €320,000.