Greystone Mansion was the site of a grisly murder/suicide back in 1929.
But yesterday the historic house was haunted only by the frightening new fashion trend – A-line, bubble and sack dresses – at a chic gathering of Hollywood ladies including Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow, Estee Lauder model/actress Carolyn Murphy, Sheryl Crow, Nicole Richie, Monet Mazur, Gabrielle Reese, Bridget Wilson-Sampras (Pete’s wife), Laura Dern and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon.
“There’s a ghost here,” whispered Murphy, who had once done a fashion shoot in the enormous mansion, as she posed for photos in a black bell-shaped Bottega Veneta dress. Why ring the bell? “I like this dress because it has huge pockets.”
Pockets and breathing room must be why so many of the gals at Aerin Lauder‘s private luncheon for Paltrow. turned up in tent and bubble dresses. Even Richie, who certainly doesn’t have to worry about looking fat in anything, wore a baggy turquoise sack dress. Talk about gilding the skinny lily.
Paltrow bucked the For Whom the Bell Tolls trend with a silver satin Prada dress. She was last to arrive after a personal app at Saks Fifth Avenue (where she’d worn beige Alexander McQueen) to meet fans buying her limited edition Pleasures fragrance collection. Proceeds went to Lauder’s Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which has raised $140 million since ’93.
Most of the luncheon chit-chat on the patio overlooking Beverly Hills was – duh – about babies. Bridget’s got two boys, Gaby’s got a daughter, 2, and an 11-year-old. Laura’s got a boy, 5, and a girl, almost 2. And it was a veritable coo-fest when Gwyneth brought out her adorable (just over five months) bundle of boy, Moses, to squeals from the lunch bunch, including Crow’s mom, aunt and cousin.
“He looks like a Raphael painting,” said Crow’s mom. And she was right. At a glance, Paltrow, gazing lovingly at the wavy-haired cherub in her arms, looked a modern day "Madonna of the Chair." Crow, Dern and Reese took turns cuddling little Moses but he gave the most smiles to a familiar face, Paltrow’s power-publicist, Steven Huvane. Smart kid.
Hopefully not as strict as Tom Cruise, thank God, who held little Suri hostage for that Vanity Fair cover.
When not oogling Moses, Crow talked about the ongoing fight for a cure.
“Every day women walk up to me and introduce themselves to me. They’re usually young women, two and three-time survivors of breast cancer."
These women have a harder time because their kind of cancer grows faster and is more difficult to treat. "What we used to advise about mammograms and family history doesn’t apply to these young women,” says Crow.
Although she’d done fund-raising for cancer for three years, Crow says it wasn’t until her diagnosis that she felt the real impact of the disease.
“It was a bit of a show-stopper,” she admitted. “But it’s those catastrophic moments in life, whether you’ve lost your house to Katrina or a loved one to throat cancer (Paltrow’s dad Bruce died of the disease in 2002), these are epiphanic moments that really transform you, where you meet and re-define yourself. Those moments decide the rest of your life.”
But if Paltrow, Reese and Durn have anything to do with it, Sheryl won’t be living the rest of her life single.
“We’ve all got lists of guys but we’re only letting the best ones meet her,” said Reese. The stunning Amazon babe – wearing a hot pink top and white slacks – mock-groused about no one else wearing the nauseating hue.
“Everyone’s in black! I thought everyone would be wearing pink for breast cancer. But no, the butchest girl here and I’m the only one in pink.”
Hey, coulda been worse. Could have been a pink bubble dress.
Photo Credits: Carolyn’s a real tent-pole event, Nicole wins the sack race, Gwyneth bucks the bell-shaped trend and Sheryl rings everyone’s chimes.
All photos by Greg DeGuire/WireImage