HARD ROAD: With companies everywhere slashing their budgets and laying people off, it’s no surprise that designers are canceling their holiday parties. The latest addition to the not-this-year list is the annual Donna Karan Christmas party at her late husband Stephan Weiss’ West Village studio, though the New Age mogul did open the doors Monday night for their other big seasonal event: a dinner for the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, which is headed by her friend (and high school classmate) Ross Bleckner.
As guests such as Bernadette Peters and André Balazs perused the racks of the Urban Zen store next door, Karan explained that, with government agencies slashing budgets, philanthropy is becoming more important to her than ever. “Nobody else is going to do these things,” she said.
Martha Nelson, who serves on the board and helps sponsor the event through Time Inc.’s People group, gave a friendly peck to Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa. “I just keep telling people we’re all still in business.” Still, she acknowledged that lining up corporate support for charity events is difficult in this more restrained era. “It doesn’t get any easier,” said Nelson.