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NEW YORK — The gala season kicked off Monday night at the Museum of the City of New York for Nina Ricci’s “The Three Graces” fete. Every major charity circuit fixture — Nina Griscom, Marjorie Gubelmann Raein, Lauren duPont, Helen Schifter, Gigi Mortimer, Renée Rockefeller — turned up primped and prompt.

Tory Burch arrived with actress Kerry Washington. “We met in L.A. and immediately fell in love,” laughed Washington. But Burch isn’t the starlet’s only paramour; Washington recently got engaged to her longtime beau, David Moscow. “Now I’m always on the lookout for a good spot to have our wedding,” she said, while eyeing the canopied outdoor dance floor on which Tinsley Mortimer, Fabiola Beracasa and Lauren Davis twirled around.

Even though everyone who was anyone made it out for the New York social season’s opener, some already had plans to get away. Anne Grauso, supporting her hubby Mario‘s cause and sporting Nina Ricci, admitted she was eager to go to Paris for the shows. “I can’t wait for the wine and the food,” she enthused.

A mere two nights later, many of the same faces donned sparkly frocks once more for New Yorkers for Children’s fall gala at Cipriani. Some, like Muffie Potter Aston and Beracasa, even managed to stop in beforehand at the Malo store to celebrate its new partnership with the American Ballet Theatre. But given the early call time of the Cipriani party, 6:30 cocktails, it was a tough event to arrive at promptly.

Zani Gugelmann, Alexandra Lind Rose and Tiffany Dubin rolled up just as waiters were corralling straggling guests to their tables. “I’m glad you’re late, too,” Gugelmann whispered to Lind Rose as they traipsed up the steps to the hall.

Power players such as Mayor Bloomberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Oscar de la Renta, Lenny Kravitz, Russell Simmons, Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Wintour came to support the charity, of course, but also to witness a recovering and rather resilient Melissa Etheridge perform.

This story first appeared in the September 23, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Philanthropic issues aside, conversation inevitably turned to fashion.

“I need the bells and whistles,” Schifter said of her voluminous ruffled Donna Karan frock.

Not everyone was eager to play dress up, however. “These events are all about the red carpet now. It’s so much pressure, so much work,” lamented Anh Duong.

After dinner, many of the guests took their leave, but Allison Sarofim, Carlos Mota, Alvin Valley, Claire Bernard, Carlos Souza, Marisa Noel and Matt Brown stayed on to boogie down to, of all things, Jennifer Lopez‘s “Let’s Get Loud.”

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