Charity circuit dinners with celebrity-heavy committees can often seem like rather contrived affairs. The chairs—assuming they all show up—often don’t seem to have ever met before. And god forbid you deign to ask them about the organization the event benefits and you are met with a blank stare and a few choice words that suggest their involvement has been as lengthy as the hemlines of their usually minuscule dresses.


Fortunately, Monday night’s Junior Spring Benefit for the Lincoln Center Institute, which fosters arts education in public schools, avoided such pitfalls. The young starlet chairs—Mamie Gummer, Zoe Kazan, Lily Rabe and Carey Mulligan—all showed up to the Gramercy Park Hotel’s Terrace wearing lacy and sheer frocks from the sponsor Valentino (with the exception of Rightor Doyle, sporting a Marc Jacobs men’s white dinner jacket). And they not only knew each other, but seemed to genuinely like each other, with hugs all around.

“I kind of tend to avoid things, apart from things like this where it’s all my friends and it’s for a good cause. I’m not a massive fan of the party scene,” said Mulligan, who is currently starring in the play “Through a Glass Darkly” before filming “The Great Gatsby” later this summer. She’s more likely to be found at her newfound New York hangout Brass Monkey. “A pint, that’s relaxation, isn’t it?”

In one corner, Gummer, who had her bridal shower and bachelorette the previous weekend in advance of her July nuptials, hung with younger sis Grace, who was lamenting her non-sponsor frock.

“I feel badly I’m not in Valentino, but I had a zipper malfunction,” she said, sporting a long, gauzy white number.

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“You’re in see-through, that’s better!” encouraged her friend.


Kazan’s outfit—a sweet-tough leather dress—served as something of a metaphor for her professional development.

“I was offered a job in an S&M club once. I was like 21 years-old and wearing, like, Urban Outfitters jeans and a t-shirt and was like so baby-faced and this guy walks past me and is like, Do you want to work in a club? And I’d been offered promotion work before so I was like, Sure, what’s the hours?” recalled Kazan who still kept the guy’s card even after she learned what he had in mind (she also owns a pair of leather lederhosen as a result). It was, after all, a $75 an hour gig. “I was afraid the acting thing wouldn’t work out…wearing Valentino instead of an S&M catsuit, it’s a very nice trajectory.”

So, too, was Doyle’s role that evening as chaperone to the quartet of actresses—a rather enviable position that was also something of life imitating art. He is in the process of editing “The Walker,” a web-episode series he made featuring all four of his co-chairs about “a gay best friend and all of his girlfriends and how he navigates those girls and how they vie for his time,” in his words. Hmm, sound familiar?

“I guess I was writing a little of what I know, if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to handle a couple of actresses,” he said with a smile. “You know, I could get used to it and some would say I shouldn’t complain.”


He really shouldn’t. After the reunion-esque chumminess of cocktails, the girls and their guy sat down to an intimate, candlelit dinner for about sixty guests of beet salad, roast chicken and chocolate cake. Then it was on to the post-dinner cocktails where they were joined by a larger crowd of floaty dresses and skinny pants, packing the other side of the Gramercy’s Terrace. Around 9:30, Karen Elson took to the stage for a vocals and guitar set. Perhaps it was a test-run for an upcoming event: last Friday she and her soon-to-be-ex-husband Jack White announced they’ll be throwing themselves a divorce bash celebration. I’m guessing the chairs of that event will know each other, too.

Photos: Billy Farrell Agency