Bill Clinton

Puttin' on the Ritz

UPDATED 02/03/1997 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/03/1997 at 01:00 AM EST

New York City has New Year's Eve in Times Square. L.A. has the Oscars. But D.C.—where, as CNN pundit Kellyanne Fitzpatrick put it, "people work 20 hours a day and then think about work in the shower"—doesn't get out much. So for last week's presidential Inauguration—four years of pent-up partying crammed into a four-day whirlwind of countless bashes, including 14 official balls—Washington insiders required outside consultants.

"We've gotta teach 'em how to dress!" whooped Armani-clad actress Lauren Hutton. "Some of these girls are still wearing Peter Pan collars!" And so Hollywood met the Beltway as Bill Clinton, the first Democrat to win reelection since Franklin D. Roosevelt, took the century's final inaugural oath. At The McLaughlin Group's soiree, Conan O'Brien powwowed with Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, while Kevin Costner spun society ladies across the dance floor of the Ritz-Carlton.

As for homegrown glamor, the First Lady's Oscar de la Renta gown won her a pass from the fashion police. But it was the First Daughter who wound up the weekend's It Girl. "She's the coolest," said designer Cynthia Rowley, who joined Sheryl Crow, Kevin Spacey and singer Jewel in chatting up the 16-year-old. O'Brien, a Harvard man, gave the high school senior tips on picking a college. Harvard? Yale? "I just told her to have fun," he said. At least on this weekend, she did.

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