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MILAN — A-list guests fought their way through the masses and up Palazzo Reale’s sprawling stone stairs Wednesday night for the opening of Mario Testino’s “Portraits” exhibit.

“It’s maddening out there,” said Burberry designer Christopher Bailey, who pushed his way in, although he’d already seen the exhibition twice.

This story first appeared in the September 27, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The photographer’s larger-than-life retrospective brought out virtually every designer in town — and lured plenty of out-of-towners. Giorgio Armani, with Lady Helen Taylor on one arm and Italian actress Francesca Neri on the other, chatted with Roberto Cavalli, while Tom Ford, Miuccia Prada, Donatella Versace, Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana, Stella McCartney, Christian Lacroix, Anna Molinari, Consuelo Castiglioni and Alberta Ferretti all skipped out of their fittings to attend the reception and benefit dinner hosted by Queen Rania of Jordan for the Child Priority Foundation.

Testino reminded Versace that her brother had predicted the event.

“Gianni said that after Richard Avedon and Bruce Weber, I would get an exhibit here and now it happened,” Testino recalled.

Meanwhile, Donna Karan convinced Versace they should take a yoga class together.

“The instructor is gorgeous, he has long hair like you, except black,” Karan said.

But while Karan talked health, Gwyneth Paltrow, who came with Ford, lured Versace away for a cigarette, though security guards soon put an end to that. No smoking allowed in the 18th-century sala.

The after-party at Club Hollywood was a little wilder. Esther Cañadas said she, McCartney and Karan were all on a manhunt. For her part, Karan was ecstatic.

“I’m dancing and I’m wearing heels for the first time in a very long time,” she said. So what’s next? “I’m ready to ski again.”

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