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Fashion designers rarely shun publicity, especially at the glitziest of Parisian parties. But at the Sidaction AIDS benefit dinner during couture last week, no one budged when all “creators” were invited to come to the stage for a group photo.

Karl Lagerfeld, egged on by eager paparazzi, retorted: “I’m not a designer. I’m a stylist, a consultant, freelance!”

This story first appeared in the January 26, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

When a second invitation went unanswered, Pierre Bergé took the microphone and barked out names like a school roll call: “Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz, Loulou de la Falaise, Kenzo Takada, Azzedine Alaïa….”

That got things moving — and it was quite a spectacle. The room buzzed about all the politics, egos and bad blood mixing on stage — not to mention all the mystery designers no one seemed able to identify. “One man standing near to me said he designed luggage,” Lagerfeld quipped, settling back into conversation with Lily Safra and Lady Amanda Harlech.

The rest of the room resumed their air kissing. Rupert Everett made a beeline for André Leon Talley in his floor-length white fur and began tickling him. “He’s torturing me!” Talley squealed in protest. Liya Kebede, also in white fur, shrank in her seat.

Elsewhere, designers mixed it up with actresses and socialites, including Giambattista Valli, Anouk Aimée, Phoebe Philo, Catherine Deneuve, Olivier Theyskens, Emmanuelle Béart, Emmanuelle Seigner, Liv Tyler, Sonia Rykiel and Lee Radizwill.