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NEW YORK — The late Nan Kempner was often quoted as saying she would “attend the opening of a door.” So how apropos that the celebration for the new exhibit, “Nan Kempner: American Chic,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art went head to head Tuesday with no fewer than four major (and who knows how many minor) events around town.

“It’s a marathon night,” admitted Rufus Albemarle, who began his evening at the Met with Ghislaine Maxwell and a slew of impeccably well-heeled fashion doyennes, including Anne Slater, Anne Bass and Bianca Jagger. “It’s breathtaking, but New York is very empty without Nan,” said Deeda Blair, expressing her doubts that any latter-day social swan might amass a collection like that on display. “It’s such a different world now. No one dresses up anymore.”

“I am wearing YSL couture tonight for her,” said Lynn Wyatt. “I thought, ‘This is in your honor, babe.'”

“She had the best taste of anyone I’ve ever met in my life,” said Joan Collins. “I remember having lunch with her once and I complimented her on her suit and she said, ‘Oh, it’s old!’ It was 25 years old and she made it look impeccable.” Peter Bacanovic had his own idea of what his friend would have made of the night. “Nan probably would have mumbled about who did not come. She would have noticed,” he said. “And she would have loved the hors d’oeuvres.”

Meanwhile, a score of other uptown ladies trekked downtown to the soon-to-be opened space The Box for a dinner for the Chanel fine jewelry collection “Les Perles de CHANEL.” Co-host Marjorie Raein and Tory Burch, Jennifer Creel, Brooke de Ocampo, Allison Sarofim and Anne Grauso donned their evening best for the occasion. “You look beautiful!” exclaimed Arriana Boardman to daughter-in-law and co-host Samantha Rosen. “You popped out a kid six months ago and now you look like that!”

This story first appeared in the December 14, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It just got redistributed,” offered the modest Rosen.

Scarlett Johansson made a quick entrance with BFF Amy Sacco before repairing upstairs to flirt with the male models hawking the jewelry.

With all of Park Avenue downtown, the Neue Galerie was left eerily void of major players at its annual Winter Gala. In fact, one of its co-chairs was a no-show (Gwyneth Paltrow, for the second year in a row) and two others (Amanda Brooks and Lauren duPont) slipped out after dinner in search of other soirees. But Aerin and Jane Lauder proudly held down the family fort with co-chairs Renée Rockefeller and Liya Kebede plus Lisa Airan and Miranda Brooks. “I finally got him to come to a museum,” Jane Lauder joked of her husband, Kevin Warsh.

Across the river, dance fans Claire Danes and Holly Hunter joined Narciso Rodriguez at the Brooklyn Academy of Music to take in “Nefés,” choreographed by Pina Bausch, at the Next Wave Gala. “This is like homework for me,” said Danes, who will be premiering her second dance performance at P.S. 122, “Edith & Jenny,” on Jan. 28. The dinner afterward was a family reunion of sorts: Jessica Lange brought her daughter, Alexandra Baryshnikov, and sat back to back with the ballet legend himself.

But the real bigwig fest was no gala, simply a regular night out at Ye Waverly Inn. Graydon Carter held court with Rupert and Wendy Murdoch, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg at his table. “Don’t wear a tie in my restaurant,” Carter joshed Murdoch — after which the media mogul promptly stripped off the offending accessory. The rest of the room looked like an Oscar party: Robert De Niro, Naomi Watts, Liv Tyler, Robin Wright Penn, Val Kilmer and Harvey Weinstein were all happily tucking into the pub grub.

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