Settling into his seat on the Concorde Thursday morning, Bernard Arnault must have let out a sigh of relief.
The LVMH gang’s big New York hurrah the night before — a dinner at the IBM building for 650 to celebrate the opening of the LVMH tower just across the street and to benefit the Municipal Arts Society — brought out Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Arnault’s entire stable of designers and a host of social heavyweights.
Clinton wore a Zara suit and a fringed chartreuse silk scarf to meet the fashion crowd.
“She said, ‘It’s Michael Kors everywhere. What a year you’ve had,”‘ Kors reported after meeting her. “And I said, ‘So have you.”‘
He turned to grab his champagne and saw Paltrow taking refuge behind the reception desk in the lobby.
“You look like security,” he told her.
She snatched up the phone and barked into the receiver in a Brooklyn honk: “Hello? There’s a Michael Kors here to see you.”
Meanwhile, Elton John wanted to know more about the kilt that Alexander McQueen had worn to the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards a few nights earlier.
“What did you wear underneath?” he asked.
“My Calvins,” McQueen replied.
John dressed himself up with a heart-shaped diamond ear stud, a Cartier panther lapel pin and a diamond pompon ring.
“One has to make the effort,” he said.
As the crowd, which included Brooke Astor, Deeda Blair, Cecile and Ezra Zilkha, Blaine Trump, Victoire de Castellane and Harvey Keitel, shuffled into the IBM atrium for a dinner catered by Daniel Boulud, it was clear that others had made the effort, too.
“I told Bernard I loved the last Dior collection, but there was nothing you could really wear,”‘ Anne Bass said. “So he said, ‘Oh, just ask John [Galliano] and he’ll do a little sketch.”‘
Galliano whipped up a celery silk evening suit, to which Bass added an 18th-century tremblant brooch.
The Fendis came out en masse to toast their new business partner.
“We’ve always been a big family,” said Carla Fendi, who arrived with nieces Maria-Teresa and Fe. “And now, with LVMH, we’re an even bigger family.”
Mouna Al-Ayoub buzzed in wearing a new fox-trimmed Dior couture lace evening suit, her toenails painted platinum.
“Je suis tres bien et tres belle en Dior,” she said between air kisses.
The notorious party girl explained why she’d skipped the week’s other affairs.
“I was hanging out in Paris waiting to find the right escort,” she said, and turned to introduce Raphael, the 19-year-old on her arm.
While others had ordered spanking-new Diors, Lacroixs and Celines, Marie-Josee Kravis took a more measured approach.
“I’m not dogmatic about what I wear,” she explained. “I do believe in honoring the occasion, but this Dior dress is a few years old, and I just pulled it out of the closet because I like it.”
Changing the subject, Kravis enthused about her favorite new flick.
“Have you seen ‘Boys Don’t Cry’?” she asked. “Now that’s a movie.”
After dinner, Gisele Bundchen rounded up a crowd — including Kravis’s stepson, Robbie — and headed to Greenwich Village for midnight bowling.
Isabella Rossellini and Christian Lacroix didn’t join them. The pair literally stopped traffic as they crossed 57th Street to attend the after-dinner reception in the LVMH tower’s penthouse.
Nan Kempner was dashing in the opposite direction.
“I forgot my goodie bag,” she cried.
Lynn Wyatt was already up in the “magic room,” although she had missed dinner.
“I would have been here earlier, but I was at Liza’s concert,” she explained. “She was dynamite! And tomorrow I fly to Chicago to see Elton.”
“This is so Halston,” Iman said as she scanned the assemblage. “And I know.”
But for another reveler, it was time for bed.
“I’m exhausted,” sighed Paltrow, the belle of at least three balls in the past week. “I never want to go to another fashion party in my life!”

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