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NEW YORK — The 2006 social season wound toward the home stretch Thursday evening at the Guggenheim Artist’s Ball honoring Pipilotti Rist. There were a slew of R&B divas, celebs, sample-size socials (all decked out in Armani, the evening’s sponsor), a nearly naked performance artist (in a bubble, no less) and an army of eerie dancers on stilts.

“I think they’re aliens,” said Robert Burke. “And I’m very inspired for my next Halloween costume.”

“Did you see the mime?” asked Susanne Bartsch, who coordinated the entertainment. “His performance was beautiful. Very Leigh Bowery. I found him in London. He’s updating the mime business.”

Also gadding about were Mary J. Blige, Ciara and Kim Cattrall, who was enthralled with the nudie show. “Wonderful,” Cattrall called out to the girl, whose stage name is Julie Atlas Muz. “She stripped and then she popped. It was really quite beautiful. Like a kewpie doll. Or an embryo. Or a girl in a bubble.”

The evening began in a more staid fashion with an elegant dinner on the museum’s fifth floor. Roberta Armani entertained the likes of Jada Pinkett Smith, Liam Neeson, John Hickey, Adam Lindemann, Amalia Dayan, Hope Atherton, Eugenia Silva, Ivanka Trump and Marielle Safra at a single long table with minimal black accoutrements, vivid scarlet orchid clusters and a lavish string of antique chandeliers. But it was the social newbies who were garnering the most chatter. “I rode up in the elevator with all your friends,” said one established charity fixture to a boy about town. “I don’t know any of their names though…they’re all, like, 12.” The better-known were more fixated on getting away for the holidays. “We’re going to Utah, where I hope we get snowed in,” said Pinkett Smith, “so that we can finally get some rest.”

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