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NEW YORK — Was it Grand Central or was it the Neue Galerie? “There are so many trains in here, I feel like I’m underground,” announced Michael Kors’ Richard Sinnott as he surveyed the elegantly attired crush at the museum on Thursday night. Indeed, he nearly trod on the flowing hemline of a dancing Lauren duPont‘s floral Gucci gown. But the ever-graceful, always-chic socialite managed to keep on boogying among the Egon Schiele paintings. Along with Aerin and Jane Lauder, Renée Rockefeller and their friends, duPont was a chair of the event, now in its fourth incarnation. A crowd including Kelly Klein, Jennifer Creel, Jessica Seinfeld, Lisa Airan, Alexia Kondylis and designers Zac Posen, Behnaz Sarafpour, Alice Roi, Brian Reyes, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez all trekked uptown for champagne, dessert and dancing in the elegant museum. One chairwoman, however, was unable to attend to her hostessing duties: Gwyneth Paltrow was stuck filming and missed the private dinner the Lauders hosted before the doors were flung open to the masses at 9 p.m.

“It’s just the perfect place for a party,” Aerin Lauder proclaimed, as she was trailed by her father, Ronald, the museum’s founder, and her sister, Jane. “I love it here. It’s so elegant and so visual, with all the art.”

Elegant indeed, and everyone was dressed to the hilt. Amanda Brooks was as pretty as a peacock in a feathered creation she had snagged from her mother’s closet, while Fabiola Beracasa donned a quarter-of-a-million dollars’ worth of diamonds around her neck. “I took it on the subway with me to get home,” said the jewelry maven. “I was so nervous.”

The following evening, the blanket of snow on the ground fittingly transformed the New York Botanical Garden for its annual Winter Wonderland Ball. Inside, designer Bill Tansey swathed the tented dining room in a medley of silver hues — illuminated, spherical Japanese lanterns and crystal-encrusted centerpieces topped with a bouquet of enormous snowy, feather plumes. The evening’s dress code called for winter whites, blues, metallics and kimonos. Actress Kerry Washington opted for black as she will don white soon enough for her upcoming wedding to longtime sweetheart David Moscow. “I’m wearing my mother’s dress that my grandmother made,” enthused Washington. Another nascent bride-to-be in the crowd was Lara Meiland, who got engaged to Claude Shaw the weekend before in Paris. “I’ve been drinking only champagne all week.”

This story first appeared in the December 13, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Many of the chicest ladies in the room — including Karolina Kurkova, Lauren Davis, Ivanka Trump and duPont — chose frocks by one of the night’s sponsors, Paco Rabanne. “My daughter told me she liked my tutu,” duPont laughed about her pink mini bubble skirt.

But one social’s fairy-tale evening was cut short by a competing fete. “Our friend is having a party tonight at La Esquina,” said Heather Mnuchin. “My husband and I have jeans in the back of our car so we can change before we get there.”

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