Gaga for Galas? Not This Year, Say Socialites

transomgalas Gaga for Galas? Not This Year, Say SocialitesThe Metropolitan Opera’s opening-night gala—held this year on Monday, Sept. 22—is one of the premiere fall benefits. It precedes other major society happenings like the Whitney Museum of Art gala on Oct. 20, the New York Public Library Lions Benefit on Nov. 3 and the Lincoln Center gala on Nov. 10. But while tickets to all of these have already sold out, some guests wondered how the big society benefits will continue to fare as financial anxiety escalates.

Julie Macklowe, portfolio manager for Sigma Capital Management and recent Vogue It Girl, arrived in punk-rock-influenced, spiked and studded 6-inch Rodarte heels that she exposed for the cameras from under her Louis Vuitton dress.

The Metropolitan Opera’s opening-night gala—held this year on Monday, Sept. 22—is one of the premiere fall benefits. It precedes other major society happenings like the Whitney Museum of Art gala on Oct. 20, the New York Public Library Lions Benefit on Nov. 3 and the Lincoln Center gala on Nov. 10. But while tickets to all of these have already sold out, some guests wondered how the big society benefits will continue to fare as financial anxiety escalates.

Julie Macklowe, portfolio manager for Sigma Capital Management and recent Vogue It Girl, arrived in punk-rock-influenced, spiked and studded 6-inch Rodarte heels that she exposed for the cameras from under her Louis Vuitton dress.

“People are definitely going out less,” said Ms. Macklowe. “Look at Kellogg’s; their sales are through the roof because everyone is eating cereal instead of going out!”

“Certainly, there will be less money given to the arts,” said actor John Turturro, who arrived with his wife, actress Katherine Borowitz.

“And if we’re any indication, a lot of people are putting extra money into politics right now, which will also take a chunk out of other [donations],” said Ms. Borowitz.

What did the pair do when they heard the news last week?

“We paid off our mortgage!” said Mr. Turturro. “We figured it would be a good time.”

Real Housewife of New York City Alex McCord, whose attendance at last year’s Met gala was filmed for her reality show, arrived in a bustier stitched together out of Lauren Bush’s Feed bags.

“Cutting back is self-defeating,” said Ms. McCord as her husband, hotel manager Simon van Kempen, nodded along. “We have no plans to go anywhere. We love New York, it’s our home, and we’re just going to hold on tight.”

High-society chronicler David Patrick Columbia, whom the Transom reached earlier in the day, said that while the economic downturn will eventually affect attendance and donations at the major benefits, it is too soon to tell.

“The really big ones like the Sloan-Kettering event, they’re kind of sold even before they get started,” said Mr. Columbia. “Those women go out and sell tickets to their friends in July. It’s easier to judge on smaller events that sell tickets for $250. They will really have to watch their purse strings more.

“The rich are still very rich,” he continued. “Also, a lot of guys who are losing their shirts, they really don’t want their wives to know, and they’re still hoping it will all work out.”

­ialeksander@observer.com