It’s Richard Avedon’s day in the sun — and with party after party being thrown in honor of his retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum, it’s turning into his month. The festivities kicked off last Friday, when Avedon invited “people I care about” to a private preview of the show. On Monday, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder threw a formal dinner for the photographer, with about 100 guests, and on Wednesday evening, the Whitney was flooded with the young ones.

Missing from Wednesday’s opening were the usual SoHo artists and dealers, some of whom are said to be annoyed that the show, the first conceived under the Whitney’s new director, David Ross, was devoted to an photographer known to many people more for his fashion and commercial work. Still, the artists who did come managed to find something to like.

“I want to see the fashion photography — that’s what I came for,” said painter Alex Katz. “The other stuff is not for me.”

British-born artist Mary Kelly thought it was important that the Whitney was mounting a photo retrospective, but said her own interests tended more toward the conceptual. “This intersects more with pop culture and fashion,” she said.

The exhibition will do that even more next week, when another benefit for Avedon will be thrown by Hearst. Among those expected are Christy Turlington, Gianni Versace, Naomi Campbell, Calvin and Kelly Klein, Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer and Lauren Hutton. Theater and politics didn’t simply intersect, they positively collided at an Arena Stage benefit performance of Rogers and Hart’s “I’d Rather Be Right” in Washington the other night. “All I’ve done for the women’s movement, and they give me the part of a secretary,” groused Maryland Congresswoman Connie Morella, one of a dozen politicians cast in the production. Less troubled by her part was Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, who stole the show as Franklin Roosevelt’s ditsy, inept Secretary of Labor.

Meanwhile, one of the main attractions at a Dallas dinner for United Way was sometime politician Ross Perot, who had a simple reason for co-hosting the event: “My wife told me to.” He was in good company. Fellow hosts included Caroline Rose Hunt, who owns the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas where the party was held, her sister Margaret Hunt Hill, and Kenneth and Ruth Sharp Altshuler.

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