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NEW YORK — It takes a lot to make some of New York’s finest socialites, accustomed to their front-row perches and cameos, feel invisible. But that was just the case at Donatella Versace‘s high-wattage party and dinner Tuesday night to celebrate the reopening of her Fifth Avenue store. The paparazzi — including some flown in especially from Italy — went rabid over the likes of Kate Hudson, Nicolas Cage with wife Alice Kim in tow, Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez, Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, Claire Danes, the singer Maxwell and even teeny-bopper Hilary Duff with boyfriend Joel Madden. They were there to check out the renovated digs, pose with la Signorina Versace (who braved the fray to stand with each of her “friends”) and answer the usual mindless queries.

“How do you stay in such good shape?” yelled one fan to a passing Heather Graham.

“Yoga and pilates,” came Graham’s pat reply, with a flick of her golden head.

And what’s a star-studded party without a high-profile party crasher? Midway through the evening, the infamous faux Paris Hilton, complete with requisite bodyguard, attempted entry and was promptly kicked out.

Meanwhile, a stunning Halle Berry, accompanied by her equally stunning model boyfriend, Gabriel Aubry, made like a real star and snuck in through the basement before joining Lopez and Versace on the royal chaise upstairs. In town filming “Perfect Stranger,” Berry was too pressed for time to attend the dinner afterward, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rave about Versace’s designs, which she donned for the spring campaign.

“Her clothes are so sexy, so fresh and they’re cut for real women, with real bodies and real curves,” Berry said, though her sequined gown offered no such reality check. But while she enjoyed the experience shooting the campaign, it isn’t something Berry plans to reprise soon. “It’s my first and I venture to say probably my last,” she said before sneaking out the way she came.

This story first appeared in the February 9, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The semi-intimate dinner later, catered by Union Square Cafe (a first), was held in the $17 million up-for-grabs penthouse of the Cesar Pelli-designed One Beacon Court building. Separate rooms held sparkling tables bedecked with flowers, while dim lighting and moody purple votive candles were spread throughout the vast space. Many guests, including Benicio Del Toro, Sophie Dahl, Elettra Weidemann, Amy Sacco, and Trudie Styler, mingled in the hallway or admired the stunning view. But some celebrities were more prone to hiding: Hudson installed herself in an empty room with a few friends, while Duff slunk away from passing cameras.

Downtown at Mario Batali‘s new restaurant, Del Posto, Narciso Rodriguez was feted after his show by Oscar nominee Rachel Weisz, her fiancé, Darren Aronofsky and Barneys New York’s Howard Socol. Amid tables and trays of cured meats, nuggets of aged Parmesan and fried risotto balls, Ashley Olsen, Winona Ryder, Mike Myers and Jessica Seinfeld worked the room. Weisz, who is six months pregnant, was outfitted in a black ensemble direct from Rodriguez’s fall line. “He made it just for me,” said the voluptuous actress, who was also accompanied by her sister, Minnie. Rodriguez, for his part, was busy meeting and greeting the clatch of devotees. “He has a great way of bringing wonderful people together,” said pal Sonia Braga, looking impossibly youthful.

But the real buzz centered around Batali’s food. A gigantic log of mortadella generated nonstop attention. Seinfeld gamely posed in front of it, and Simon Doonan kept dragging guests over to the conspicuous, cylinder-shaped mass, introducing them to the new “Colin Farrell,” referring to the actor’s most recent and most downloaded sexcapade. Ryder, however, was just trying to satisfy her sweet tooth. “I need a Twinkie,” said the actress, who spent most of the evening deep in conversation with a superslim Giovanni Ribisi.

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