“Christmas spirit starting now,” declared Marina Rust, surveying the jardin d’hiver that was the scene Friday night of the Winter Wonderland Ball at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
“This is the best party of the week,” said Sloan Barnett. “And it’s the only one that gives you a chance to relax.”
It was the calm after the storm in a week that began with the Costume Institute and included the gala opening of the LVMH Tower. Unlike at those crushes, the patrons of the Botanical Garden serenely gathered in the conservatory.
The young ladies wore white. Tara Rockefeller topped her gown with a black monkey-fur capelet.
“It’s my ‘Planet of the Apes’ cape,” she said. “The men get scared when they find out what it is.”
The crowd sat down to a meal of shepherd’s pie, which was co-chair Aerin Lauder’s antidote to the week’s fussy dinners, and then hit the tented dance floor, where Brooke de Ocampo and her friends boogied to disco classics.
New York’s Christmas spirit went into full effect the following afternoon, as the New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet hosted its annual Nutcracker Family Benefit at Lincoln Center.
After the performance, little children stormed backstage, tripping over the hems of their tiny taffeta dresses to get an audience with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Darci Kistler.
Children weren’t the only ones working the theater.
“It took me an hour to get these autographs for my kids,” said Vera Wang.
For the party afterwards, Kistler changed from point into silver glitter platform sneakers. Rita Schrager, who cochaired the event, recalled her own stint as a dancer.
“When I was in the Nutcracker,” she said, “we used to work those skirts!”

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