Mia Wasikowska Glenn Close Giorgio Armani & Cinema Society screening Albert Nobbs

Glenn Close's new film, Albert Nobbs, is a deeply moving tale about a woman forced to live as a man in 19th Century Ireland in order to survive, taking on the job of a butler for many years, until she falls in love. Suddenly her job, her secret and her world are threatened.

The movie and its message have been a labor of love for Close.

"I would like it if it made people think about what it is that makes us human beings, and what it is that unites us rather than separates us," said Close, looking chic in an Armani pants suit. "I personally think that we all need to feel safe, and that we all need some sort of connection with another human being. That supersedes gender, and it's all about how you can survive. For me that's the basic message."

Mia Wasikowska, gorgeous in a black Elie Saab cocktail dress, loved working with Close, and loved the message.

"It was a really beautiful movie about finding someone to survive with in the very pure sense of the word. It's also about the masks that people put up and how they hide behind them, and how it can really affect your life," she said.

Close's face is entirely transformed by prosthetics and makeup. FashionEtc asked the director, Rodrigo Garcia, how long the daily ritual took.

"Not that long. It was under two hours, it wasn't a big mega thing. It was definitely hard work. We couldn't afford to make it take longer, we had budget and time constraints," answered Garcia. "Her transformation was helped by the cut of the clothing. She's wearing something to change the shape of the torso, but a lot of it was posture, the way she walked and the way she approached Nobbs' physicality."

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nina garcia

For 12 years in a row, the Winter Wonderland Ball at the New York Botanical Garden has been a magical kickoff to the holiday season. Impeccably turned out Manhattanites find their way to the magnificent Conservatory in the Bronx, where the Holiday Train Show still inspires amazement as it winds through a landscape that features replicas of well-known New York landmarks.

The evening benefits the Garden's Children's Education programs, with classes and workshops for kids of all ages, particularly underserved children in the Bronx.

The WWB has a reputation for being a particularly fun evening. "It's not like going to the Plaza, where you can walk out at any time and take a taxi," said one guest. "It's a commitment to get here, so people are prepared to stay, have fun, and dance until the end."

This year was particularly balmy, although freezing temperatures and blizzards have never deterred guests from attending in the past. The original dress code was white and silver. This year, St. John underwrote the evening, and the dress code was white and black.

"I wear white because the theme is Winter Wonderland," said co-chair Nina Garcia, stunning in a long white crystal-studded Ferragamo. "Every year that I come here, all the women make an effort to wear white, and it looks so beautiful."

"A lot of us have been coming here for 12 years. It's glorious, festive, holiday-like. Everyone has a great time and just cuts loose on the dance floor. Many people still honor the original white and silver theme," said co-chair Alexandra Lind Rose, wearing St. John.

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Sarah Jessica Parker, Valentino

Valentino Garavani is one of the most influential designers of our time. His clothes have been coveted for decades by royalty, movie stars, and beautiful movers and shakers.

If you don't believe me, see for yourself: The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, is a free downloadable application that takes you through years of designs, events, advertising campaigns, and anything else you want to know about the man, his clothes, and his fabulous life. It's an extraordinary 3-D ride, well worth seeing.

When Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti throw a party, they pull out all the stops, and the celebration in honor of the Virtual Museum was no exception. Held in the Frank Gehry designed IAC building, the creme de la creme of fashion, entertainment, art and society came to pay homage, nibble on an Italian buffet by Sant Ambroeus, dance, and lounge on the white leather sofas.

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The excitement surrounding the Elizabeth Taylor auction at Christie's continues. Bulgari hosted a lunch in honor of Save Venice to celebrate the Bulgari jewelry being sold in the auction.

Taylor had amassed quite the Bulgari collection, many of the pieces during the filming of Cleopatra in Rome.

"Elizabeth Taylor was a fashion icon, an actress, someone who loved jewelry and life," said Marco Tatarella, head of sales at Bulgari's Fifth Avenue store in New York City, as he introduced a fascinating slide show about the Taylor/Bulgari relationship, including rare photos of Gianni Bulgari showing jewelry to Taylor in the "money room"—the private salon at the back of the store in Rome reserved for exclusive clients.

Taylor owned the entire Grand Duchess Vladimir Suite (some of which is pictured above), an exquisite collection of Colombian emeralds and diamonds. Her fourth husband, Eddie Fisher, bought her the earrings and tiara. Her fifth husband, Richard Burton, completed the set with a brooch, a ring, a necklace and a bracelet.

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