By  on February 7, 2006

NEW YORK — There are many things Donatella Versace loves about America, but the no-smoking environment isn't one of them.

"It's very strange," Versace said, laughing while lighting one of her signature Marlboro Reds on the fourth floor of the company's Fifth Avenue flagship. "It's OK if you have a gun, but if you smoke, you are considered a murderer."

Smoking restrictions aside, New York is one of Versace's favorite cities. She typically comes here at least once a month, but usually keeps a low profile, checking out the newest Hollywood flicks in a multiplex theater, dining with her friends at hot new spots or old-time favorites like Indochine, Da Silvano or Mr. Chow, and spends as much time as possible doing what every other fashion girl would when in town — shopping.

"I adore New York," Versace said. "It's the city of the world. Through the clash of cultures, there is a lot of creativity. It's amazing. People think New York has its high and low times. For me, New York is happening at every moment. It happens everywhere — you just have to know where to look to find the avant-garde movie theaters, theaters and music. There is always something happening, and it always starts from here."

On this five-day trip, Versace is mixing business and pleasure. Tonight, she will host a party to celebrate the renovation of the company's New York flagship, followed by an intimate dinner at One Beacon Court.

Versace would like to take in some fashion shows, but on Sunday doubted she would have the time. "I would love to see everybody in New York, especially Marc Jacobs, because I adore him. He is a friend of mine."

She will, however, try and find time to see "Transamerica" and "Capote," and she plans to make a trip to the Museum of Natural History, where Versace is sponsoring the 2006 Winter Dance for the first time on Feb. 16, to meet with the gala's patrons Claire Bernard, Zani Gugelmann, Amanda Hearst, Tinsley Mortimer, Jacqueline Sackler and Ivanka .

Except for Trump, who was tied up otherwise, the patrons all flew to Milan last month to meet the designer, have fittings for the dresses they plan to wear to the dance, and glimpse the blonde's talents at Versace's men's wear show and after-party.

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