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That's what friends are for: Pratt Legends 2000

Notes from Rita F. Catinella Products Editor

I’ve learned that last-minute invitations often turn out to be the most interesting--often times you don’t know what you are getting into until you get there. The other day I was invited to attend the Pratt Legends 2001 Scholarship Benefit Gala Dinner as a guest of Hunter Douglas. Upon accepting the invitation, all I knew about the event was that an organization was giving interior designer Peter Marino, fashion designer Mary McFadden, and artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude awards at a ceremony in the Rainbow Room, which meant I had to wear a dress. The Rainbow Room, which was formerly open to the public, is now only available for private functions, and this was my first time in this awesome space.

I knew the night was going to be memorable when my friend and I passed actor Tony Randall while we were going into the elevator up to the cocktail hour. The amount of sequin in the elevator ride alone was blinding. Within moments, my friend recognized a glamorous-looking woman encircled by photographers to be none other than Clinton amiga Denise Rich. At that point, I wish I had brought a fancier bag. While mingling among the guests we also spotted that night’s mistress of ceremonies, none other than the psychic-friendly diva, Dionne Warwick.

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It wasn’t until I got a chance to look at the program that I realized the other award winners included Lawrence Herbert of Pantone Inc. and exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum. During the evening I was craning my neck to see if I could find the event's honorary co-chairs, New York’s top socialite Brooke Astor and architect Philip Johnson.

During a dinner of cold lobster with haricot verts, rack of lamb, and risotto with mushrooms, I chatted with Jamie Gibbs of Jamie Gibbs and Associates. Gibbs was involved with the painstaking restoration of the space. An interesting factoid:the original windows of the Rainbow Room needed to be double-paned because during World War II the roof of the building was used as a heliport.

The event ended promptly at 10:30, with Warwick stating that she would be available for any other M.C. gigs in the future.

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