Nicole Miller Kathy Hilton Alex Hitz

Just back from L.A.—what an exciting time to be there! Traffic jams, multiple parties, the atmosphere was electric.

Celebrities and boldface names were everywhere, not only at the legendary parties (Katzenberg, Diller/Von Furstenberg, Vanity Fair, Madonna, you name it) but also at the Tower Bar for dinner (Anderson Cooper, Paris Hilton), and at the Polo Bar at the Beverly Hills Hotel for lunch. It was dazzling.

Yet with all that glamour and glitz, the one thing I can't get out of my head is caramel cake.

Alex Hitz's caramel cake, to be exact.

Alex is one of the great hosts of our time. Whenever this Atlanta native entertains it is with enormous attention to detail, coupled with his unique brand of Southern hospitality.

He designed his extraordinary Hollywood Hills house himself, with breathtaking views sweeping all the way to the Pacific Ocean. He built a state-of-the-art kitchen, where he whips up dinner for as many as 120 people.

He has a talent for building an extraordinary guest list. His dinners are filled with a multigenerational, international mix, all accomplished in their various and interesting fields. The atmosphere that Alex creates is conducive to having fascinating conversations and meeting new people, which makes his guests clamor to be invited again. David Netto, the respected architect, puts it brilliantly:

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Will Kopelman Drew Barrymore Ed Ruscha Shepard Fairey

Oscar week continued in L.A. with Larry Gagosian's annual powerhouse opening and dinner on February 24. Ed Ruscha and his "Psycho Spaghetti Westerns" exhibit were featured this year, and everyone who is anyone came to pay homage to the great artist and his new works.

The gallery was packed with collectors and celebrities, including Drew Barrymore, Adrien Brody, art dealer Irving Blum, Shepard Fairey, Anthony Kiedis, Michael Stipe, Nadja Swarovski, Valentino, Alex von Furstenberg, and Bruce Weber.

Guests managed to see and appreciate Ruscha's paintings despite the crowd. "In one word: epic," said Cynthia Rowley when I asked what she thought. "His daughter was my intern, so I'm particularly fond of him."

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Ben Walker Mamie Gummer

With the Oscars only a few days away, the buildup parties in L.A. are going full throttle. On February 22, Graydon Carter gave a cocktail at LACMA for Wendy Stark to celebrate the opening of Ray's Restaurant and Stark Bar, which is named after Wendy's father, legendary producer Ray Stark.

The Renzo Piano–designed restaurant is airy, inviting—a place you'd want to visit regularly.

"Renzo wanted to make it into a piazza, a fantastic public space, with the lamps looking on like a temple of light," said CEO and director of LACMA Michael Govan, referring to the awe-inspiring Chris Burden lampposts at the museum's entrance.

Actor Julian Sands agreed wholeheartedly: "This is the place!" he said with enthusiasm. Added Sands' wife, Evgenia Citkowitz, "The combination of high culture and food is unbeatable."

Wendy Goldberg, whose husband, Leonard, produced Unknown, the current No. 1 thriller starring Liam Neeson, was also charmed by the space: "It's adorable, it's so festive!"

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Carolyn Murphy Nicolas Bos Jason Wu

At an occasion fit for Cinderella (though in my case, an advanced-aged one), I spent several delicious hours in a mansion, ogling the ultimate objects of temptation.

No, dear reader, I wasn’t locked up at Hugh Hefner’s pseudo-Tudor manse with Chris Noth and the rest of the cast of That Championship Season, I was at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (a former Carnegie abode) for the dinner launch of the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibit “Set in Style.”

Women in jewel-toned gowns and men in tuxedos meandered through the neo-18th-century rooms, referencing brooches, bracelets and minaudières on museum-provided iPads.

Treasures such as jeweled flowers (ruby peonies shimmering on stems of channel-set diamonds), woven-gold handbags, and Marlene Dietrich’s belt-shaped diamond cuff bracelet (everyday jewelry to her) were invitingly displayed in large plexiglass bubbles and were viewable from all sides.

The exhibit’s ingenious creator, Patrick Jouin (my dinner partner), described these cases as echoes of the bubbles and fairies that are signature designs of Van Cleef & Arpels (the ultimate purveyors of fairy tales for grown women).

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