The charity circuit can be exhausting—I know, a profound statement, right? You’re not going to earn many sympathy points from friends by complaining about aching feet, champagne headaches and leaving Boom Boom in the wee hours. God knows there are worse fates in life. But it is still a tiring endeavor that can use a little kick every so often to jolt you back to life.

Fortunately, I received just such a gift Thursday night when I was ascending the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, heading towards a champagne toast pre-party for the annual Apollo Circle Benefit, hosted by Carolina Herrera and her daughter Patricia Lansing (Carolina Herrera also sponsored the gala). I thought I was alone walking up the steps until I realized it was just me and Mrs. Herrera climbing towards the entrance. I try very hard to steer clear of hyperbole, but Carolina Herrera is just about as impeccable a woman as you will find. Forget caffeine, walking up the stairs of the Met with her is all the energy you need to see you through the rest of the night.

“This is for young people, for Patricia’s friends,” she said as we headed into the Engelhard Court, site of said champagne toast. “All the young girls in the dresses, it’s very nice.”

It was. Set against a backdrop of tinkling water from a fountain and classic bronze sculptures were dozens of young ladies in long ball gowns, sipping champagne and trying not to step on each others’ trains.

“This room is intimidatingly chic,” said one girl as she observed the crowd.

“I only come here for this event and I forget how beautiful it is,” said Maggie Betts of the museum. “I need to show it off to my friends when they come to town.”

Arlenis Sosa had even flown in from Paris just for the occasion—apparently loyalty goes a long way.

“Mrs. Herrera has always supported me,” she explained. She was heading back to Paris the next morning for a shoot and then to Cancun for a Victoria’s Secret job. She will not, however, be walking in their show. “I’ll be watching from the front row, “she said with a smile.

As Selita Ebanks, Lauren Santo Domingo, Lansing, Lily Kwong, Claiborne Swanson Frank and Zani Gugelmann milled around, one girl couldn’t help but comment on the uneven gender ratio (welcome to fashion parties).

“This is the most manless room I’ve been in,” she said.

There were plenty of the less fair sex in the Temple of Dendur where the Apollo Circle Benefit was in full swing when us pre-partiers entered. Young girls in gowns frolicked with banker types test-driving penguin suits. A film montage of movies featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Ann Margaret was projected on one wall, a bit confusingly as the evening’s them was Pop! (as in the art movement). The closest thing I saw to this was the woman walking around sporting a large pink hat shaped like a broken guitar on which she had emblazoned Amy Winehouse’s likeness.

“Every year I wish someone would get in that pool,” said one girl of the water surrounding the Temple. No one did. It was too well-behaved a crowd for such antics. Though some among the guests could have used a lesson in chivalry.

“I’ll buy you a drink,” one fellow said to me.

“It’s an open bar,” I replied.

“I thought you were too pretty to notice that,” he said.

Ah, young chauvinism.

Photos: courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art/