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Labelle of the Ball

Patti LaBelle turns 50 today."Ah, yes, 50 years...young! Or old, I don't mind either way," said LaBelle late last week. "Because I'll be 50 and I woke up this morning and I will wake up, hopefully, Tuesday morning. And that's a blessing...

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Patti LaBelle turns 50 today.

"Ah, yes, 50 years...young! Or old, I don't mind either way," said LaBelle late last week. "Because I'll be 50 and I woke up this morning and I will wake up, hopefully, Tuesday morning. And that's a blessing because all three of my sisters died in their 40s of cancer. So I'm going to celebrate for myself and for my three sisters," she says proudly.

LaBelle will be celebrating at the House of Blues club in L.A., at what was supposed to be a surprise party.

"It's a party for my birthday, but also a listening party for my album ["Gems," which will be released in June]," LaBelle said. "I don't know who all is going to show up, but the world has been invited. All my good friends -- Oprah, Gladys, Aretha, Donna Karan, Franco Moschino..."

LaBelle doesn't just think of Karan and Moschino as friends; she's a hardcore fan.

"Their clothes are just to die for and I wear them all the time. And Karl Lagerfeld pumps -- I love these shoes," she said, pulling up her Donna Karan pants to show them off. "I love them because he makes the highest heel -- it's like five inches. I think I'm the only fool in the world who will keep them on all day long!"

She loves Moschino just as much, and actually hangs out with the Italian designer whenever he's Stateside. Besides their admiration for each other's work, LaBelle and Moschino have something else in common: food. The first time she met him was when he flew her over to Italy to see his show a few years ago. "When I got to the hotel, he had a room full of gifts for me wrapped in beautiful boxes, it was like Christmas. I was like Alice in Wonderland," she recalled. "Then I went to his house and cooked for him and a bunch of his friends. They could have sworn that I had somebody Italian in the kitchen with me," she says. "Now, whenever he comes to New York he rides down to Philadelphia and I cook for him," she said.
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