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NEW YORK Usually a pretty extravagant fete, the Municipal Art Society's annual benefit gala took a more subdued tone, coming just less than three weeks after the September 11 attacks. But while the evening's atmosphere and dress code were toned down, the event's security was ramped up.In lieu of the originally planned black-tie attire, partygoers wore office-appropriate blue suits and simple dresses. (We also spotted an expected batch of American flag lapel pins, a V-neck sweater and a leopard-print coat--Martha Stewart wore a black dress with a big fuzzy shawl.) And on their way in, guests walked past a very visible crew of at least seven GSS security guards outside, with even more stationed within the party to watch over guests including the event's honorary chair, Caroline Kennedy.
The event started with a cocktail reception in the lobby of the Seagram Building, and then moved for dinner--but no dancing--to the landmark Lever House. Robert Isabell decorated cocktail tables at the reception with simple brown tablecloths and vibrant, autumn-hued centerpieces. Isabell told us that this was his original design for that portion of the event, but his decor for dinner was toned down significantly. The minimal dinner decor consisted of black tablecloths, black chairs and white flowers. (A friend of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who was a champion of the society, Isabell also designed Caroline's wedding and this past spring's Costume Institute benefit influenced by Onassis' years in the White House.)
One nicely managed detail: The coat check crew from Coat Check Inc. gave guests the option of retrieving their coats for the walk between venues or having them delivered directly to Lever House.This year's benefit was held in celebration of the landmark Lever House, and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis medal was awarded to Frederic Papert, who worked with Onassis on the restoration projects of Grand Central, Radio City Music Hall and the Lever House.
--Suzanne Ito & Chad Kaydo