Monday night, at the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s sixth annual Spring Ball, there were a few sartorial curiosities among the four hundred plus people milling in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s main hall during cocktails. One woman donned elbow-length, black fishnet gloves with her otherwise prosaic dress. Another wore a fascinator. And then there was the grey organza gown so voluminous and stiff in its many folds that guests unabashedly approached the wearer to gape. “Where’s her pumpkin?” quipped one young woman.

Not to fear, there was plenty of classic elegance in the room to make up for such antics—and who can deny the entertainment factor? The evening, after all, was sponsored by Harry Winston, who enlisted event planners to set up a dramatic installation of votive candles spelling out the company’s initials on a sweeping stairwell. “This really is the most glamorous place to have a party,” commented Jamee Gregory, who sported a green and pink Oscar de la Renta frock.


Dinner was served under cherry blossoms and candelabras beside a gorgeously lit Temple of Dendur. Zac Posen was the center of attention at one table, where three women—Alexandra Lebenthal, Muffie Potter Aston and Carol Mack—wore his gowns. “Where is the best place to buy your dresses?” Mack inquired of Posen, having bought hers off the rack. Coco Kopelman waited patiently to introduce herself to the designer and when he complimented her own dress—Chanel, if you need to ask—she replied, “The last time I wore it was to my son’s wedding. So it’s good karma.”

The evening’s proceeds were specifically earmarked for the Targeted Therapy Translational Research Program for Kidney Cancer and Sotheby’s Jamie Niven led a live “auction” to encourage pledges. (Julia Koch, one of the night’s co-chairs, was the first to raise her hand, committing to donate $50,000.) “We’re not going to sell a lousy trip to Rome,” quipped Niven at the outset, as hands flew up across the room.


“That woman almost cost her husband $10,000,” remarked one lady as she watched another high five a recent bidder, a move nearly mistaken for a donation. Diana Krall closed out the night with a jazz performance, before guests made their way back out into the cold.

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Photo: Sherly Rabbani & Josephine Solimene