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BEVERLY HILLS — Despite the torrential downpours that already have become a cliché in Los Angeles, spring managed to bloom at Marni’s Melrose Place boutique Tuesday night when the brightly dressed Maggie Gyllenhaal, Claire Danes, Carolyn Murphy and Brittany Murphy hosted a cocktail party for designer Consuelo Castiglione, who made her first trip to L.A. nearly five months after the store opened.

“Ah, Claire, she is fantastic,” sighed Castiglione, as she watched the actress float around in a full-length teal Marni gown. Though Danes’ taffeta frock made beautiful noises as she chatted with Mena Suvari and Amber Valletta, the actress remained mum to reporters by decree of her personal publicist.

Other ladies weren’t so buttoned up: Malibu moms Valletta and Murphy exchanged notes about schools for their kids, while Shiva Rose McDermott, perhaps feeling the hormonal rush of her second pregnancy, vented steam about George Bush and the conservative right wing. Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, stuck close to screenwriter mom Naomi Foner, even giving her props for introducing her to Marni. “My mom was the first one to take me to this store, and she’s been shopping at the New York store for years,” she said. “She owns more Marni than I do.” Suvari, who wore a red-and-white floral printed dress, has been wearing Marni “for a while….It’s so different and vibrant,” she said.

The wind and rain also blew in Nicollette Sheridan, who arrived late — and unexpectedly —dressed for the weather in faded jeans, Pucci rain boots and an oversized sweater. She delighted photographers and observers like Valletta by channeling her character, Edie Britt, and preening in the mirror and posing for the cameras in Marni’s silver Lurex coat and silk top. “I was on my way to dinner and I decided to pop in in my sweater and Wellies,” said Sheridan, who left empty-handed. Said Valletta: “She’s such a stitch, I love her. ‘Desperate Housewives’ is one of my guilty pleasures.”

This story first appeared in the March 28, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The enchanted (albeit soggy) air continued at a dinner for Castiglione at Tony Duquette’s Dawnridge estate. The only glitch was that the power in the Beverly Hills neighborhood had gone out, so guests were stalled at the boutique while producers scrambled to tent the Shangri-la-like garden and bring in a power generator. But in the end, the candles and dewdrops added to the atmosphere and most were none the wiser. “I thought it was intentional,” said Danes.

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