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Patriot Parties

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At this moment, celebrating anything is a recipe for guilt. And publicists and party-planners feel as guilty as anyone. "I'm incredibly depressed," says the famously steely hostess Peggy Siegal, with an ache and tears in her voice. "I know at least five or six people who are dead. And it's like, cry or come to the office. I'm -- everyone's -- on the brink." Many of the larger events she was planning, like film premieres, have been moved to the West Coast, but she's decided to go ahead with a small screening and dinner party for the comedy Bandits this Monday. "Do I feel guilty? No. Oh, I don't know," she says, her voice shaking. "Maybe to invite some people to a funny movie is borderline okay. I just don't know."

But while the dozens of store openings and perfume launches scheduled for the days after the attack were canceled (rescheduled, if at all, for nebulous mid-October dates), the organizers of New Yorkers for Children's Fall Gala decided to soldier on last Wednesday as planned, at Cipriani on 42nd Street (pictured above). The evening was co-chaired by Oscar de la Renta, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Anna Wintour and her beau, Shelby Bryan; but the mayor and his companion, Judith Nathan, were the guests with the most star power.

The fancy crowd seemed subdued; almost everyone was wearing black. "I'm feeling so skittish," said Isaac Mizrahi, smoking on the sidewalk. Some concessions were made to the gravity of the occasion: no dancing, a change of tablecloths, flags on the pedestal, red-white-and-blue ribbons at every seat. "I want to marry the mayor," said Donna Karan, floating by dressed in all white. "I just love him so much right now."

Indeed, when the mayor took the podium, before an audience not only on its feet but screaming with adoration, a skinny blonde declared over and over again: "We're looking at the next president."


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