BIG BUSINESS

It wasn't exactly a cozy dinner, but no matter: For a glamorous group who'd hibernated all winter long, the echoing grandeur of Thursday night's benefit for the Henry Street Settlement was a welcome kickoff to the spring season.
"I feel like I'm in Grand Central Station," said Carol Mack, craning her neck around the enormous ballroom of the Regent Wall Street hotel. (It happens to be the second-largest room in New York behind the main hall at Grand Central.)
"The last big event in this building was Liza [Minnelli]'s wedding," Claudia Cohen said. Like those nuptials, this was a big night in every way: big ballskirts on women who seemed to have slept through the Nineties, and big prizes at the silent auction, including a Vespa.
"Vespa," announced emcee Caroline Rhea, "is Italian for wasp, which I thought I'd mention since this is a roomful of WASPs." No one laughed.
"I'm insulted," Jennifer Creel whispered with a grin.
Size certainly mattered where the evening's jewelry was concerned, and Michael Kors accessories director Richard Sinnott made a bold testimony to the well-endowed ladies at his table.
"I know of two people who own their own jewelry," he said. "Oprah and Tory Burch."
Earlier that day, Oscar de la Renta was thinking big, too, when he and Bergdorf Goodman hosted a luncheon and fashion show for 400 women including Pauline Pitt, Liz Mezzacappa and Barbie Bancroft, to benefit the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. In a curious merging of the afternoon's two activities, New York Hospital resident Samantha Boardman's pager started to buzz just as the guests were descending upon racks of patchwork jackets and gypsy blouses.
"I figure that this qualifies as work, right?" she asked.

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