With a glittering benefit for the Corcoran Gallery, Lord and Taylor last night formally presented the remodeled Chevy Chase store that will defend the company's fashion and financial reputation in Washington against new rivals.

The million-dollar remodeling. Lord and Taylor chairman Joseph B. Brooks said yesterday, is not intended to give birth to any new image to cunter the Neiman Marcus complex going up acrossJennifer Lane.

In the vernacular of the Lord and Taylor shopper, it was more like a coming out party for a stor that is just turning 18.

Brooks said the goal at Chevy Chase, and for all of Lord and Taylo, is not to change, but "to do what we have always done best - to provide quality, fashion, investment clothes."

Without mentioning Blooming, dale's, he emphasized that "Lord and Taylor is a fashionable store, but it is not a faddish store."

And without naming Neiman Marcus, which is coming here from Texas, or I. Magnin, which plans to migrate to Washington from San Francisco, Brooks said, "Washington has always been important to us. We know our customers and the taste and style that is appropriate for our customer."

Since the Chevy Chase store opened in 1959, it has become Lord and Taylor's second best, with sales and profits ahead of all but the Fifth Avenue flagship in New York.

Like the Fifth Avenue store - which Brooks had remodeled last year - Chevy Chase was beginning to show signs of age that limited its growth potential.

"The store had not made good use of space, so we literally gutted it," explained Brooks. In the less than two years he had held the top post at Lord and Taylor's, he had won credit for reinvigorating the chain.