Madonna, The Superstar Who Ate Buenos Aires: Who doesn’t know that the one and only Madonna is in Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America, filming “Evita,” playing, of course, Evita Peron, Argentine dictator Juan Peron’s legendary wife, another superstar who ate Buenos Aires long before the big M sank her teeth into it? We are all continually reminded that Madonna loves clothes even as Evita did, so here, a little exclusive fashion story for your delectation:

Every Sunday in the Santelmo district of Buenos Aires, there takes place a very special flea market attended by the rich, the semi-rich and the not-rich-at-all. In a picturesque square surrounded by 19th-century buildings, sellers set up tables displaying their wares at dawn, little orchestras begin rehearsing at the corners of the plaza and professional tango dancers start their limbering. It’s not just another flea-bitten, old flea market filled with junk — or even junque — but a high-toned one where even silver and crystal treasures and semi-treasures change hands. The old buildings have been turned into shops filled with all sorts of fabulous fripperies, old and new, magnets for those seeking the odd and the interesting. So….

So early last Sunday, whilst the setting up was still going on, suddenly a dark gray Mercedes limousine with darkened windows and propelled by a chauffeur slowly pulled up. And out of it stepped a 6 foot, three inch bodyguard, all dressed in black. Quickly he opens the door and out steps La Madonna in black jeans, black boots, a black T-shirt and black shades with her hair pulled back into an Evita Peron chignon. With her are two young women, described as her secretary and Penny Rose, the “Evita” costume designer. Before you can say Ciccone, the news traveled that the M word was amongst them, and everyone in the plaza began whispering and gawking. So the trio ducked into Antigone, a shop famous for its wonderful vintage hats, trimmed with flowers, plumes, egret feathers, veils and the kitchen sink and for dresses designed in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. Madonna pointed to a wall where about 50 hats were hanging and bought 50 of them to wear in the film. Then from the racks of original clothes-of-the-period she bought elegant silks for daytime — she fell in love with a white dress printed with black flowers and leaves — many cocktail and evening frocks Evita would have loved including a bias-cut, pale pink show-stopper, five pairs of long antelope gloves, numerous short crocheted gloves and half a dozen black lace mantillas for those times, not often, when she (Evita) felt either demure, churchy or especially do-goody. So far, Madonna hasn’t bought a stitch of lingerie or shoes or jewelry. Costume baubles have been ruled out. Every jewel she wears in the movie will be the real thing. So don’t cry for her, Argentina. The shopping goes on, and tomorrow she’ll be back pawing through the racks for more.

Incidentally, Placido Domingo is a big Madonna fan. They met for tea in the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in Buenos Aires, sitting in a window looking out on the street where they couldn’t possibly be missed. He has said she’ll make an exciting Evita “because she has the talent and the voice and should be a big hit.” Super Placido is also creating a super storm in South America. He’ll sing in Buenos Aires Friday night before 25,000 at the Campo de Polo under the stars — he has invited Madonna — where he’s dedicating his performance to Venice’s famous opera house, La Fenice, which just burned to the ground, and has announced that he will appear in a future benefit to help rebuild it. Last night, Placido sang in Montevideo before 20,000 fans at the Estatio Centenareo. Que hombre! In Uruguay, Placido stayed at the Casa Pueblo, the hotel where the elite meet to do everything. And, yes, his wonderful wife, Marta, is with him. And, yes, Madonna will be at his concert in B.A. Friday night, thank you. She has taken eight of the $200 special, leather-covered seats right up front and center, where the New York TV tabloid shows that are following her around will be sure to find her.

Catching Up With The Parties — And Falling Way Behind: Who would have guessed that while Adrienne and Gianluigi Vittadini were entertaining such as Martha Stewart, Lucile and Guy Peyrelongue, Patty and Marty Raynes, Alison and Leonard Stern, Grace Mirabella and Dr. William Cahan, Nina Griscom, Linda Wells, Liz and Andrew Tilberis and more, more, more at their cocktail party, they were secretly closing a deal to merge their design company with the knitwear company Marisa Christina, the sly ones! Just back from Milan, they bid 100 guests to their ivory colored castle in the Fifth Avenue sky, where all reveled in caviar delights from Glorious Food and toasts abounded.

New Yorkers who love beauty will turn out for a glimpse of spring at The New York Botanical Winter Garden Party on Feb. 6. The dinner at the University Club is a benefit for the Garden’s collection of 5500 orchids, many species too Latinesque to pronounce — or even spell. They will all be for sale at a silent auction. Contributing their genius to the genus will be such as fashion designers Josie Natori and Geoffrey Beene, such interior designers as Madison Cox, Albert Hadley, Dana Nicholson and Victoria Hagan, who will decorate each table under the eagle eye of Nancy Novogrod, the committee chairman and, truth be told, the editor in chief of Travel & Leisure. Mrs. Jan Cowles and Mrs. Thomas Hubbard are co-chairs of the evening.

On Feb. 12 at the New York Marriot Marquis, the National Center for Learning Disabilities will hold its annual benefit in honor of Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the chairman and chief executive officer of American International Group, not only a business leader but a philanthropist of note. Already the benefit has raised $1 million, before the evening’s dinner has even begun. Anne Ford is the chairwoman of the National Center, and she’ll be right there at the party welcoming such big shots as Charlotte Beers of Ogilvy & Mather, Wayne Calloway of PepsiCo, Robert J. Eaton of Chrysler, Louis Gerstner of IBM, Roberto Goizueta of Coca-Cola, Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis, Thomas Labrecque of Chase Manhattan, Walter Shipley of Chemical Banking and John F. Smith Jr. of General Motors. Did I say big shots?

The Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Amory has ended its 10-day run, and what a success. After all the ballots were in after the preview party, the winder of the Mot & Chandon Design Award was Doris Leslie Blau’s Alice in Rugland exhibit. The co-chairs of the evening, Clinton Standardt and Lucinda Ballard, announced the winner and reminded everyone that the proceeds from the party and run of the show go to the East Side House Settlement. Town & Country, which sponsored the party, celebrated its 150th birthday — Donna Giuliani read the proclamation — and John Loring, who knows a good thing when he sees it, avowed that at this show, “you see everyone you know, and the exhibitions are realistic dreams and good hunting grounds.”

Among the hunters were Coco and Arie Kopelman and their daughter Jill, Jo Carole and Aerin Lauder, Lisa and David Schiff with their daughter Ashley, and Punch Sulzberger and his daughter Cindy. Also in the crowd: Veronica Hearst in a black Chanel, David Rockefeller, Chessy Rayner, Anne Cox Chambers, Liz and Felix Rohatyn, Barry Kieselstein-Cord and on and on into the evening. Bill Cosby was the honorary chairman of the show, and his favorite chair was one of those on loan in the special “My Favorite Chair” exhibition. You would have loved it — but then you were there, weren’t you?

(On Friday, read all about Paige Rense’s party at Mortimer’s after the Antiques Show, the big tribute to Helen Gurley Brown of Cosmopolitan at the Waldorf, Lee Thaw’s smart little dinner chez elle in honor of Prince Pierre d’Arenberg, the Marchese and Marchesa Alberto Berlingieri of the Venice Berlingieris and, last but not least, the big Save Venice “Carnevale” high in the sky in the Rainbow Room of Rockefeller Center where the costumes were to die for. So many parties, so little space.)

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