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It would seem, according to the invitation for the Friends of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York’s La Notte gala dinner held Wednesday night at Industria Superstudio, that 2013 will be a particularly good year to be Italian. The invite touted 2013 as “the year of Italian culture in the U.S.” and, judging by the turnout, it looked to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The affair, honoring conductor Riccardo Muti, raised funds for the Institute’s foundation, which promotes cultural initiatives and funds grants for Italian artisans to work in New York. The evening got under way with guests packing into the space, many in either tuxedos or floor-grazing ensembles. Attendees eyed the artwork up for auction while others posed for pictures with Gianmaria Buccellati, who received the evening’s Business Award.

This story first appeared in the December 14, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Models in black velour catsuits, inexplicable black face makeup and Buccellati jewels dangling from their ears languidly leaned on glass display cases housing the high jeweler’s finery. “Which am I wearing?” one whispered to the other, consulting the guide tucked away under each case. “I think these,” she went on to say, pointing to an image of pink sapphire earrings.

Attendees, the bulk of whom spoke solely in Italian for the evening, greeted each other — “Ciao! Come stai?” — and lingered on the step and repeat. Many indulged in passed hors d’oeuvres: fingerling potato circles topped with caviar, vegetable terrine with basil pesto and pasta, forkfuls of tonnarelli al cacio and pepe.

“Buona sera, good evening,” Patrizia di Carrobio, emcee for the event, said as the ceremony got under way. “As you can all tell from my accent, I am Italian. We’re here to celebrate our culture.”

After the second course — lasagna with a venison ragu — was cleared, di Carrobio introduced Buccellati before handing him his award: “He expanded the company worldwide in just a few years after succeeding the business from his father in 1965,” she said. “His creative genius has become his distinguishing mark.”

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