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“She’s amazing,” said Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, as saucy Raquel Welch vamped it up at the podium during the Sidaction AIDS benefit in Paris Thursday, thrusting her bosom at the microphone and, literally, kicking up her heels.

The legendary bombshell reminisced about her first trip to the City of Light. “It was 1966. I think I was 25, so don’t count,” Welch cautioned, as Marshall pumped a gloved fist in the air and let out a whistle. During dinner, the mischievous minstrel showed off photos of her new pooch, Mona, a pint-size French bulldog she’d left behind in Miami. “She’s my new love,” Marshall declared. “I’m going to get her to do the Vanessa Bruno campaign and the Chanel campaign and Dior…”

The singer, who performed at the Chanel show during couture week, revealed how she copes with pre-concert jitters. “I just said to myself, ‘Well, nobody out there probably knows who I am,’ and focused on Marianne Faithfull [who was sitting in the audience] and took the plunge. It was quite surreal.”

“This isn’t black-tie?” Rolf Snoeren wondered aloud as he and Viktor Horsting arrived dressed impeccably in tuxedos and bow ties, which they promptly loosened. The Dutch duo is off to New York to work on its next women’s scent and is gearing up for an exhibition at the Barbican in London next year.

“What do you think of Victoria Beckham?” piped in Snoeren. “She’s so everywhere and now she’s planning to take over America. There’s just no stopping the girl.”

Model Lily Cole, dressed in flame orange Christian Lacroix couture that matched her hair, revealed that shooting for “Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll,” in which she’ll play Alice, has been postponed until fall.

“[Director Marilyn Manson’s] divorce kind of threw things out of balance,” she said. “I definitely want to go into acting, but university is my priority for now.” Sofia Coppola, who sat at the Fendi table with artist Tom Sachs, slipped out of the event early. “I’ve got to get back to my little one,” she said, referring to her new baby, Romy.

This story first appeared in the January 29, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic the evening before, the National Gallery of Art held a black-tie dinner to launch its Jasper Johns show, which opened Sunday and runs through April. But it’s hard to know who gets the last laugh from the exhibition: the artist or the show’s corporate sponsor.

“Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting, 1955-1965” contains more than a quarter of the 83 works that feature Johns’ depiction of targets, the celebrated logo of the sponsor, Target.

But Johns wasn’t giving away any of his ideas on the relationship between art and commerce. Take, for example, the rise of hedge funds as the newest Medicis in the exploding art market. He dismissed the trend with an erudite sniff. “It doesn’t relate to me. I was just very fortunate,” he said. Other guests at dinner were author Michael Crichton, artists Frank Stella and Terry Winters and retail heiress Judy Dayton, who used her Nikon digital camera to snap photographs of pals Jo Carole Lauder and Sharon Rockefeller.

Over at the National Portrait Gallery, corporate donors took a more direct approach to helping the arts. Pals of Democratic power broker Vernon Jordan showed up for the unveiling of his portrait, painted by artist Bradley Stevens. The gang, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, George and Liz Stevens, Jim Lehrer and Gahl Burt, raised $200,000 to help defray the museum’s 20 percent budget shortfall. Among the 15 hosts were Henry Kravis, Time Warner’s Richard Parsons, John Mack and Bruce Wasserstein. Ever the diplomat, Jordan thanked the gallery for “getting rid of the ‘dead enough’ rule. Otherwise, I would not be here.”

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