In business that treats everyone like a best pal on a first-name basis -- Halston (Frowick), Geoffrey (Beene), Bill (Blass) Oscar (de la Renta) and others, there's about to be a new star: Dominic (Rompollo).
He's the Seventh Avenue designer Rosalynn Carter has chosen to update --sapphire-blue gown Mrs. Carter has chosen to wear for the Inaugural Ball --the party celebrating her husband's inauguration as governor of Georgia.
According to The New York Daily News, Dominic is also designing a black-and-white evening gown for Mrs. Carter to wear to the gala the night before the Inauguration, and a coat-and-dress costume for the swearing-in ceremonies. Mrs. Carter's press office says it isn't so. Jack Moses, owner of Jasons in Americus, Ga., where Mrs. Carter buys a lot of her clothes, says "the Daily News story is 90 per cent inaccurate."
What certainly is true is that Moses, who helped Mrs. Carter make the original selection of the sapphire-blue dress from sketches, has been in New York recently with a relative of Mrs. Carter, making selections for the clothes the First Lady will wear to all the Inaugural celebrations.
Apparently Mrs. Carter has not found in Washington the calm and anonymity which she likes about shopping at Jasons. With Amy in tow, Mrs. Carter stopped recently at a Friendship Heights shoe shop, and complained about everyone "gawking" at her. "I'll guess I'll have to shop from the White House," she told a friend.
(Gawkers noted that Amy bared a sock with a hole in the heel while trying on some new shoes.
Dominic Rompollo, who will now be known to the world that cares as Dominic, is one of those talented Seventh Avenue designers who is considered an editor, rather than an innovator, who can spot a good idea and tastefully interpret it at a price that lots of women can afford. For fall his price tags started at $135.
Mrs. Carter has been known to have a sharp eye for price tags, rejecting anything she feels inflated by designer labels. She turned down a gray flannel Jerry Silverman dress because of the $170 price tag, but when she decided she wanted it for the trip to Mexico for the inauguration of the President of Mexico, it was too late. The dress in her size had been sold.
"I wish she would realize that every dress is a designer dress," said designer Mollie Parnis. "Nothing is created just out of the blue." Parnis, who admits she, too, wears a dress for sentimental reasons, says Mrs. Carter has a responsibility to wear the best of American fashion as First Lady --constantly photographed, admired and imitated. It's an essential boost to the fashion industry, too, she added, pointing out that the garment industry is one of the country's largest. "In New York alone, 220,000 are in the needle trades," she said.
Jerry Silverman, who thinks he has seen photographs of Mrs. Carter in his dresses, agrees. "For Mrs. Carter not to elect a new dress is a goof," he said. "But an honest goof."
Mrs. Carter's reluctance to spend what she considers inflated prices on top American designer clothes may be related to her own sewing talents --mother -- which had to be put aside during the campaign. But Rosalynn Carter plans to bring her sewing machine to the White House.
So who is Dominic? He's a 37-year-old, first-generation American, son of Italian parents, born in Detroit, Mich. After two years in Korea in the service, he attended the prestigious Parsons School of Design, then worked for Geoffrey Beene and later, Teal Traina. He has had his own firm for four years.
"I'm serious about my work, but I don't take myself seriously," he has said. "In the world of fashion, people involved frequently make too much of a fuss. Just relax and enjoy it."