Mischa Barton

ROME — It's no small feat to upstage a crowd peopled with the likes of <STRONG>Karl Lagerfeld</STRONG>, <STRONG>Mischa Barton</STRONG>, <STRONG>Tilda Swinton</STRONG> and <STRONG>Maggie Cheung</STRONG>. But that's what happened Wednesday night...

ROME — It’s no small feat to upstage a crowd peopled with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Mischa Barton, Tilda Swinton and Maggie Cheung. But that’s what happened Wednesday night in Rome at a lavish party to celebrate the opening of the world’s largest Fendi store. The guest creating the most cocktail chatter smiled sweetly and wore a modest black robe trimmed in red — Cardinal Pompetta. He was invited by top management because in the Roman tradition, it brings good luck.

Also present was the so-called pope of fashion, LVMH titan Bernard Arnault, who sipped white wine and chatted with actress Monica Bellucci. “I couldn’t not come,” the screen siren purred. She was thrilled to learn that Lagerfeld just renewed his contract, continuing a 40-year collaboration with Fendi. “He has to stay for another 35 years at least. He’s so fantastic. I don’t know how he does it,” she gushed.

Although the weather was drizzly, Anna Paquin was thoroughly enjoying her Roman holiday with her friend and fellow actress, Alison Pill. “I’m walking around with my mouth open,” Paquin said. “It’s just so gorgeous here.” After touring the store, guests wound their way up seven floors to a rooftop dinner of ricotta-covered swallow fish soaked in broth, followed by rigatoni baked with mozzarella and tomato sauce — St. Peter’s in full view. Although Cardinal Pompetta didn’t stay for dinner, the posh crowd remained well behaved — and no cardinal sins were committed.

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