AVEDON ON AVEDON: Most of the Sunday afternoon crowd taking in "Portraits by Richard Avedon" was too busy checking out the portraits on the walls to notice the unassuming man with snowy hair and wide-rimmed glasses. But the man in question was none other than the celebrated photographer.

Avedon said he likes watching people enjoy his work, and wanted to swing by the Metropolitan Museum of Art again before the show closes Jan. 5. What he doesn’t catch, unfortunately, is their comments.

"I try, but I can’t hear them. When I sort of lean in, they seem to stop talking," he laughed.

Knowing droves have been pouring into the Met to check out the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andy Warhol, and Dorothy Parker,among the 180 portraits, Avedon said, "We’re coming out of a period of abstract expressionism in art and the response to this show — which has been tremendous — is that we’re seeing people again."

Asked if he had any personal favorites, the lensman shook his head, smiling, "Oh, no." But he was overheard telling a couple about the sequence of portraits taken of his father, Jacob Israel Avedon, before his death in 1973. "I wasn’t close to my father and I wanted to be [close to him] for my son."

LET’S DANCE: Paris’ social and fashion set will be winging their way to Monaco next month to check out Karl Lagerfeld’s latest design for Chanel. But it isn’t a dress, a suit or a sweater. The industry’s ultimate multitasker is creating the set for the Nijinsky Awards, the Oscars of dance. The Dec. 14 event is hosted by Jeanne Moreau, with Princess Caroline of Hanover, honorary president of Monaco Dance Forum, as the star guest.

W DRESSES UP: W Hotels wants guests to take home more than a stolen bathrobe. The chain is revving up its W The Store business by opening more boutiques, dressing up its catalog and launching an online shop. A 36-page holiday book showcasing 200 products is being placed in 7,000 W rooms daily and 120,000 more are being mailed. An Isadora Story cashmere sweater, Leigh Bantivoglio lace camisole and thong and yes, the signature robe, are among the hot holiday items."There’s sex appeal for sure," said Theresa Fatino, vice president of design and brand development.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide has tapped Platform LLC, the creative force behind the trendy W store in its Times Square hotel, to revamp its two units in Chicago and to design three new stores. Their work will be seen next month, with the reopenings of the Chicago stores, where merchandise will be tailored for each location. W fans can also now shop online at Whotelsthestore.com. Besides apparel and accessories, hard-to-find items are offered, like a Phillipe Starck swivel chair and Commes des Garçons condom case.

MOM’S THE WORD: TV Guide contributing editor Diane Clehane is editing a collection of essays on the subject of celebrities’ relationships with their mothers, to be published by Hyperion in May, with Kelly Ripa expected to write a forward and appear as a cover model. Among the fashion folk included in "I Love You, Mom!" are designer Dana Buchman and plus-size model Emme, as well as a yet-undisclosed roster of other famous personalities.

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