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Craft Works

It was — what else? — a fashion and celebrity love-in when Donatella and Santo Versace hosted a party to kick off the Gianni Versace retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Monday. Madonna and her daughter Lourdes, Chelsea...

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Saffron Aldrige with Sophie Dahl

Saffron Aldrige with Sophie Dahl

Photo By TIM JENKINS

It was — what else? — a fashion and celebrity love-in when Donatella and Santo Versace hosted a party to kick off the Gianni Versace retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Monday. Madonna and her daughter Lourdes, Chelsea Clinton, Anna Friel, Trudie Styler, Bianca Jagger, Mario Testino, Joely Richardson, Patsy Kensit, Tamara and Matthew Mellon, Vivienne Westwood, Lady Victoria Hervey and Damien Hirst were among the 850 guests who crowded into the museum for cocktails, canapés and a long look at two decades of Versace fashion in "The Art and Craft of Gianni Versace," which opens to the public on Thursday and runs until Jan. 12.

Clinton, dressed in tight black Versace trousers and a sparkly black top, said her favorites were the theatrical costumes. "I studied dance for 15 years and I thought his costumes for the ballet were beautiful."

Lourdes, who was celebrating her sixth birthday on Monday, clearly liked what she saw. At one point, she climbed onto one of the platforms and started pulling on one of the red fringe dresses. Like any good mama, Madonna was after her in a flash. "Lola, get down and stop that!"

But no one could have been more pleased with the show than Donatella, who squired her friends through, then paused to reflect: "Gianni’s dream was to show just one dress here, and now look around. Hel-lo. I’m happy that we finally have the space and the freedom to show these clothes how they’re meant to be shown. I keep looking around and thinking, ‘This is amazing. This is my brother.’ And I try not to be sad. No sadness."