THE LADY OF THE HOUSE: While the art crowd chatters about whether Christie’s bumped its Impressionist and contemporary art sale to the second week of May to accommodate owner Francois Pinault’s Venice Biennale travel plans, Christie’s Americas chairman Marc Porter provided another reason to visit the Rockefeller Center galleries – Monday night’s book party for Anouska Hempel.

Beyond her fashion designer and former Bond girl status, Lady Weinberg (as she is known at home in London) is a leading interior designer. And one that turned the tables of conversation with the greatest of ease. Complimented for the short-sleeve black column gown of her own design that she was wearing, Hempel said, “I’m not so sure about that, but that one is a goodie,” gesturing toward a friend standing nearby in a more dramatic lace, knee-length cocktail dress that she designed.

Working on a Jane Street house and a Meatpacking District one, Hempel said non-working travel is not in her immediate future. “Of course not, do you? How about you?” she asked of two others. “Work’s a way of life. It’s the way you live, it’s what you do and it’s how it is. It’s not work. It’s a lifestyle. It’s life. It’s what one does. You can’t not work.”

Speaking of her signature one-of-a-kind couture pieces (a label that was once worn by Princess Diana), Hempel said, “It’s couture – and the houses are couture. It’s all a very individual situation…until you do two of a kind and two people turn up at the same party in the same dress. We laughed until we cried. Everyone thought it was awful, but of course it was awful funny. You have to have a sense of humor about it. We’re all good friends too.”

Monday’s New York crowd included Hilary and Wilbur Ross, Susan Gutfreund, Anna Condo, Silvia Niarchos, Roberto Faraone Mennella, Amedeo Sconamiglio and Chiara Boni. As for what strikes her about New York, Hempel didn’t hesitate. “There are more potholes this year than last year. That’s true. Isn’t it? It’s a pretty stupid thing to say.” she said with a laugh. “Phone Michael Bloomberg immediately – but he’s not in charge any more.”

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