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How do you make a store opening fun? “Alcohol,” said Stella McCartney, and in this case, mojitos.

“Here, have a sip,” she advised Gwyneth Paltrow, who had loyally endured an arsenal of paparazzi before setting foot in McCartney’s new store Friday in the Meatpacking District.

This story first appeared in the September 24, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I’m going,” sighed the actress.

She sipped, turned on her heel and headed for the exit. (By midnight, Paltrow would be the life of the after-party, belting out karaoke tunes at Gaslight.)

But McCartney held center stage for three hours at the store, greeting a continuous crush of celebrities, including Liv Tyler, Marianne Faithfull, Cyndi Lauper, Alicia Silverstone, Chilli and Usher.

While McCartney is a natural hostess, Sam Taylor-Wood, whose art exhibition, “The Passion,” opened a few blocks away at the Matthew Marks Gallery, is a more reluctant sort.

“I always like the idea of an opening, but as soon as it happens, I get panicked,” admitted Taylor-Wood, who mingled with onlookers like Julianne Moore and Damian Loeb.

Though Elton John had a private walk-through earlier in the day, Taylor-Wood joined gallery-goers on Saturday night for the opening of “I Think It’s in My Head,” fellow British artist Tracey Emin’s show at the Lehmann Maupin gallery. For her part, Emin reveled in the spotlight.

“I’m an artist. This is what I do,” she said, fussing over one of her installations, a bed covered with her embroidered quilts and linens. “There are worse things in life than rearranging your sheets.”

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