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NEW YORK — “The space works really well as a nightclub,” said André Balazs as he entered the Prada store in SoHo on Tuesday night, where a crowd was celebrating “Waist Down,” an exhibition of Miuccia Prada‘s most iconic skirts. House music blared. “It’s just like Milan in here,” said nightclub impresario Jeffrey Jah. A pleated gold lamé skirt twirled around in midair, suspended from the ceiling by a steel beam. Revelers complained about the heat, which no doubt was caused by the throngs of people in attendance: movie stars such as Richard Gere and Lindsay Lohan; scores of young society fixtures such as Olivia Chantecaille, Lauren Davis and Amanda Brooks; magazine editors, and the requisite hangers-on. Damon Dash gamely set about handing out look books for his wife Rachel Roy’s fall line. “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,” shrugged the hip-hop mogul.

Jeff Koons, no stranger to installations, was impressed with the exhibit. “Even though it’s just fabric, you discover things,” he said, pointing to a gigantic cutout of a look from the runway that also was hanging from the ceiling. “It’s Matisse,” he said, referring to the pattern of the skirt and its inspiration. “And that’s what’s great. You get to enjoy things that your grandparents liked, things that you might like but feel generationally distant from. Art is enlightenment, and this is enlightening.”

The typically shy designer didn’t have anything so lofty to say about the exhibit. “The idea is just to show the work and how we do it,” Prada said. “We didn’t want to put it in a pretentious museum. We wanted to introduce some fun and interest.”

And clearly, she likes the shows. Prada said there will be one more “Waist Down” exhibit in Europe, either in Milan or London, and then one in Russia. After that, she said, “we will invent a new exhibition. Maybe it will be on colors or other objects. I would love to do a show on fabrics.”

This story first appeared in the April 20, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Fashion and celebrity also convened earlier that day at Jean-Georges, where Ellen Pompeo, Joan Allen and Jeanne Tripplehorn traveled far and near for an Island Michael Kors Fiji lunch. Pompeo and Tripplehorn flew in from Los Angeles just for the occasion, while Manhattan native Allen made the trek across town. The designer himself turned up tanned and rested from a holiday in St. Barth’s. Over a lengthy lunch of bluefin tuna, Scottish cod, purple potato fondant and poached Maine lobster, Kors regaled his klatch of female admirers, including Aerin Lauder, Renée Rockefeller and Samantha Boardman, with raucous tales of his vices of yore. The worst offense? “Back when I used to smoke, I’d go to the tanning bed and lie there smoking a cigarette and talking on my cell phone,” recalled Kors. “When they used to ask me where I was, I’d tell them, ‘Oh, Portofino.'”

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