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Grand Canal

Ever elusive, Miuccia Prada once again strived to stay behind the scenes during the opening event of Fondazione Prada's exhibits of works by German artist Thomas Demand in Venice on Thursday, at the onset of the city's Arts Biennale.

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Ever elusive, Miuccia Prada once again strived to stay behind the scenes during the opening event of Fondazione Prada’s exhibits of works by German artist Thomas Demand in Venice on Thursday, at the onset of the city’s Arts Biennale. But despite her efforts to let Demand shine, Prada was the star of the evening, and artists Anish Kapoor, Carsten Holler, Francesco Vezzoli and Tobias Rehberger were singing her praises. “She is smarter than most and dares to take more risks,” said Rehberger.

Demand finds Prada “very exciting” to work with. “It’s not about her fame,” he said, but her “sensibility, intuition and creativity.”

But the designer was doing her best to deflect attention away from herself. “You’ve spoken to the artist — that’s more than enough,” said Prada, wide-eyed and surprised that the press would want to talk to her, as well. She shied away from making any comment on Demand, saying: “Two years of work can’t be reduced to a quote.” Wearing a pleated black skirt and a cream-colored blouse accessorized with outstanding gold jewelry pieces and flat gladiator sandals, Prada chatted away with everyone from Tate Gallery director Sir Nicholas Serota to Norman Rosenthal of London’s Royal Academy of Art .

“This is all so stimulating,” beamed Alberta Ferretti, who is an art collector, as guests Luisa Beccaria and husband Lucio Bonaccorsi, Servane Giol, Veronica and Anna Marzotto, and Federica Costantini Scala, Camilla Al Fayed and Anouck Lepere mingled. Afterward, Prada hosted a private dinner at 17th-century Palazzo Albrizzi.

The day before in New York, a seriously high-wattage crowd, including hosts Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Wintour, Calvin Klein and Christian Louboutin, showed up to celebrate Lapo Elkann and his new sunglasses line at the Gramercy Park Hotel. “His grandfather was the most stylish man I ever met,” said Carolina Herrera, referring to the late Gianni Agnelli. “But he’s making a good effort.”

As did the crowd that night at the Whitney Contemporaries’ annual Art Party, which this year took its theme from the museum’s current exhibit, “Summer of Love.” Sponsored by BCBG Max Azria and benefiting the Whitney’s Independent Study Program, the fete brought out a brigade of revelers in florals, bright colors and headbands, who perused the Sotheby’s silent auction and lounged on the sleek sofas dotting the Skylight space. There was also a face-painting station for guests such as Eleanor Ylvisaker, Olivia Chantecaille, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, Max Minghella, Doo-Ri Chung and co-chair Lubov Azria and a trippy light show for those who were not sated by the strong drinks.

But some of the celeb guests hadn’t quite complied with the “hippy chic” dress code suggested on the invitation.

“I didn’t get that memo,” said Sarah Michelle Gellar, decked out in a rosette-trimmed dress complete with Van Cleef & Arpels bling. She explained her hubby, Freddie Prinze Jr.‘s rare presence at such an event: “Max Azria and art are two things that interest him, so that’s why he came out tonight.”

Beside her, in the makeshift, cordoned-off VIP area (apparently, free love goes only so far), co-chair Kate Bosworth sat alongside Rosario Dawson, who was eyeing a plate of shrimp hors d’oeuvres with suspicion. “I think whoever made those was on acid,” she remarked.

The following evening, Cartier opened its doors to Rihanna, Djimon Hounsou, Rachel Roy and Helena Christensen for a party celebrating its charity-driven Love bracelets. Rachel Weisz was one of the first to arrive, and though she was wearing a Phillip Lim dress and the designer was present, the pair had never crossed paths. “I’ve never even met him,” Weisz admitted. “Is he nice?”

Faith Hill was obsessing over another designer, Ellen Barkin fave L’Wren Scott. “I didn’t know her before, but I’m going to be wearing her a lot more,” she said of her slim-fitting frock.

Meanwhile, Eva Mendes was feeling conflicted over the current jam-packed charity benefit schedule. “I’ve been really wary lately of lending my name to certain things,” she said. “I think you need to be personally involved.”

Debra Messing was getting personally involved with a sparkling Cartier watch. “I can literally sniff out the new pieces,” said the actress, who will start shooting a film with Annette Bening at summer’s end. “But honestly, I’m embarrassed to say how much Cartier I own.”

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